Emotions, Passions and Identity in Christ

Posted by Matt Lane on May 19th, 2018 filed in Christian Living

I’m not sure if it’s different for women but for sure with men, it’s easy to have empathy and relate to the fact that our performance in our jobs, in our family life and in relationships in general fall short. Upon just a little reflection, it’s really easy to identify where we are lacking and are not living up to the needs of those around us. At any given time I can rattle off 5 things that I’m failing at. On the flip side, it’s much harder to convince men to treasure Christ more and to hate our sin. The reality is that we need both.

In general, men often struggle with being transparent and talking about emotions. We are designed to get things done and talking about getting things done just doesn’t cut it. But then there are times when being pushed to articulate our struggles is essential. There are occasions when sharing our most intimate struggles is healing. Sin runs rampant in all of us and without enough confession, there could be no stopping it.

However, just pushing men to talk about their struggles falls short. Just having moments of transparency where we let people in is not enough. Often this can circle and circle with just commiserating about how hard life can be and how we need to do better but that doesn’t move the needle on killing my sin. And by the way, saying that the “enemy” is discouraging me keeps the blackness of my own heart, my sin, at arms length and helps me to not own it. Yes talking about what we struggle with is crucial. But if in the end it doesn’t point us in the direction to treasure Jesus more, it can look more like moralistic, therapeutic deism than like confessing our sins and spurring one another on to good works.

Often as men we talk about having our identity in Christ and not in our vocation. Honestly there is nothing more important for us to grasp. But what does that mean? It might need an another post to fully dig into but does that exclude who God has made me? Does it exclude my talents, passions, skills and people in my life? Does it exclude my street corner? Ultimately at the bottom of my joy is God and who he is yet I see God in all of those things that I just listed. The difference is that all of those things are incomplete and imperfect. All of those things can reveal things about God but every reflection is imperfect because in the end, they are just that, reflections, and not the real thing. But I believe that like most things, our identify is not simple and easily defined. God has designed us specifically to work and there is a true joy in doing those things that we were created to do and a joy in those relationships that we are meant to spur on. How then can we say that our identity in Christ is defined outside of those things?

To wrap up, yes we need to seek out moments to talk about struggles and be encouraged to fully define our identity in Christ. But to do that, I need above all, to be wow’d by the Gospel. I need to be convinced that Jesus is to be pursued above all other good things. Through my Bible reading and through preaching, I need to be wow’d.  And when I take a second to reflect, I am wow’d by Jesus’ love for me and I can see evidences of God’s grace all around me; in my work, in how he has created me, and in the street corners he has given me. Most of the time the problem is that I don’t take time to reflect enough to be wow’d.  And usually, I need to be wow’d by the Gospel more than I need to be counseled because when I am being wow’d by Christ, I am counseled and all other things are often put into place.

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