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‘So, what do you do?’ This is a standard question at parties – at least the ones I get invited to. I remember being asked this in a previous life when I was working as a high school teacher. ‘I’m a teacher’, I replied.
‘Oh, you poor thing’ was the immediate response. She wasn’t finished.
‘What subject do you teach?’
‘Physics and general science’
‘Oh, how awful!’
There’s not a lot you can say after that.
Where do you find your sense of worth? Some of us define ourselves by what we do. I am a teacher, an engineer, a nurse etc. It doesn’t matter that we are complex beings, with other interests, passions, experiences and so on. You are an engineer because that is what you do.
For some, what others think about us or say about us is important. I have nearly 1500 friends on Facebook. My wife says I can’t possibly know that many people, let alone be friends with all of them. She is right, of course, and a good proportion of them have been people I have met just once or twice, or don’t know that well. However, the sad part is that every time I post something, I want every one of those friends to ‘like’ it. Tell me I’m not the only one!
And then there is what we have. What we own. We are what we drive or the clothes we wear or how big my office is. I know I’ll really be something when I can afford that two-story house over by the lake.
Jesus didn’t allow himself to be defined by what he did, what others said about him or by what he had. But he did talk a lot about his Father in heaven.
When Jesus was baptized and the assembled crowd heard the audible voice of God, it is interesting to note what the Father didn’t say. He didn’t say, “this is my son, he is the second person of the Trinity, he is the Word and he’s had that role since the beginning”. He didn’t say, “this is my son, you should hear what the angels say about him”. He didn’t say, “this is my son, and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, his wealth is impossible to imagine”. The Father simply said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 11).
I think Jesus was content with that.
The Bible tells us that we are children of God, deeply loved by the Father.
Jesus encouraged his disciples – and therefore us – to do their “acts of righteousness” in secret (Matt 6: 1 – 4) so that only the Father sees them. He instructed them (and us) to pray behind closed doors (Matt 6: 5 – 7) so that we pray to him, and only him. An audience of just one; the One that counts.
Are you looking for a sense of worth from what you do? Are you looking to boost your ego with what you have or what others may say about you? Or are you happy to play to an audience of one? Are you content to simply be a child of the Father?
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