Who are you? No, I don’t mean what’s your name, but who are you? What do you think about yourself? Do you consider yourself hot tempered and outspoken, or are you introverted and shy? Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself too much? Too little?
These are questions every believer must confront within themselves. Life is short. You ought to know who you are. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a gangsta. Stop laughing, I’m serious. I was a teenager in the mid to late 80s, living in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Before there were Bloods and Crips, there were small groups of gangs that didn’t call themselves gangs, but posses. And the biggest posse of all were the Decepticons. The Dee-Cepts (as they also were known) came out en masse whenever they were looking for someone. They were formed in Brooklyn Technical High School, which was (and still is) one of the best high schools in New York City. They were tired of having a soft reputation, so they made themselves a gang and took their name from a popular cartoon called “The Transformers.” The Transformers’ theme song said that they were, “More than meets the eye.” That’s what the Dee-Cepts were – more ruthless than you would think considering the school they emerged from.
And so one fine day they came to my ’hood looking for one boy. There must have been 80-100 young black men with hammers, knives and chains held firmly in their hands. Hearts melted, birds fell from the sky and grown men wept. The Dee-Cepts came to our stoop and surrounded it. My terrified friends and I numbered about eight. We were bombarded with questions; they asked us if we’d seen a boy whose name I can’t even remember now. Honestly, all I remember now was feeling fear and a strange sense of awe at the way this large group descended upon a neighborhood that thought it was too tough to be invaded by any outside gang. I wanted to be intimidating as well.
It didn’t work. No one was afraid of me. Even when I went around telling everyone that I knew some of the Dee-Cepts, hearts stood firm, birds pooped on me, grown men laughed. By the time I got into college I had given up the game. But by then I had found a new game: impress people. Unfortunately this worked out very well. I learned just what to say to whom and how to say it. To the black students, I was all about freeing Mumia Abu Jamal (even though I always thought he was guilty). To the white students I was all about reforming welfare (even though I didn’t like the welfare for work program because they didn’t teach any employable skills). I became a chameleon, with no real opinion of my own. I was afraid to let people get too close to me, because they might find out that there was really nothing to me.
Thank God for Jesus Christ! Once I believed in Him, I realized that not only could I have the slate wiped clean, but I could find my identity. I am who He created me to be (Eph. 2:10). Once I let go of the me I wanted everyone to see, God began to show me who I really was – why I thought the way I did and why I did the things I had done. He began to show me the man God designed me to be, but had not become because my sin-nature perverted the way I thought about myself.
I wanted people to like me.
I had a serious temper.
I was addicted to pleasure.
I ran from confrontation.
I lied – a lot. A whole lot.
I believed my good was better than the next man’s.
I was racist in thinking.
This sounds like a horrible experience, but it was extremely liberating. I wrote my vices down and prayed against them weekly. Most of them are long gone; new ones have popped up, but victory is ever attainable. None of that would be possible if I pretended that I was okay in the first place.
God’s not interested in who you think you are. He wants you to agree with who He designed you to be in Christ. He wants you to discover the gifts and talents buried in you and use them for His glory. He wants to peel off the layers of perversion that you’ve put on to shield the world from the real you.
Whether you’re a teenager searching for identity or someone who feels your best days are long gone – your identity can only be found only in your Creator. Let Christ reveal who you really are and don’t be afraid to confront yourself. In his book, “Virtue and Vice” Dr. Steven Craft said that the only way that he beat heroin was to admit that he was playing games with God. Most of you don’t have that testimony, but we’ve all played with God at one point. However, Scripture says that God is not mocked.
If you know the Word of God says to forgive and you find that you cannot, than this is something you need to work on. However, you’ll lose before you even start if you won’t admit that you’re wrong in your unforgivness! You know the Word of God tells us to be sober. If you drink a lot, admit to yourself that you enjoy it so you can take steps to stop. No one gets wrapped up in sin because we hate it! Sin appeals to the part of us that’s not disappointed by our selfishness, our feeling of entitlement, our profanity, our ignorance or our indifference. That’s why it’s so hard to stop sinning!
But holiness is the ultimate liberation. There is nothing more wonderful then when you accept your purpose in life. When God begins to reveal your eternal purpose, sin pales in comparison. You just have to be true with where you really are and commit to growing in God. He’s ready and willing to help you – the real you.
Chameleons need not apply.