I have been reading a fabulous book of late about making Jesus the centre of your life. I do the usual Christian checklist and decide "oh, yes, that’s me". But how do I really make this meaningful? What is my attitude about who I am and why I am? These questions are the basis of everything. I had this very idea clarified for me in Steve Brown’s book “Jesus Centred” which describes how our understanding of our identity is part of the groundwork in making Jesus the centre of our life.
How do you introduce yourself to people? This was brought home to me recently when I met a new Minister at a Church meeting. We all introduced ourselves and it was a repeat of what we ask each other at social events when we meet someone new. What’s your name? What do you do? And where do you live? And oddly for me, what team do you support? We are so much more than all of these things.
In Steve Brown’s book ‘Jesus Centred’, he uses a jigsaw puzzle box metaphor, rather than a book to describe our unique, individual lives and God’s perspective for each of us, for our core purpose and identity. Brown says: ‘Ultimately, the right box top is the one provided by the Creator of our puzzle.’ That means that God has placed you where he has placed you. Or as Brown writes ‘In our case the ultimate creator of who we are is God.’
He has the finished jigsaw in mind. And Brown continues by saying ‘therefore the box top God provides is the right one for us to use. This means we need to align the jigsaw pieces of our life with God’s intention and view of who we really are.’
In our world, advertising and social media targets our fears and desires. I often tell young people how the pressures in this area have ramped up. A teenager today sees more beautiful, (on the outside) people in one week than I would have come across in my whole adolescence. Yet, who doesn’t want to be beautiful, competent and admired? So much better than ugly, stupid and discreditable. Or even worse, living with shame, hurt and self-loathing. If our measure of success is by how we meet the expectations of others, or indeed your perception of others, you are taking your eyes off what God has said about those who he has chosen and who he loves. This is difficult for us, and for those of us who are people-pleasers, it is especially tricky. God has gifted each of us for a specific calling and season. God has so much in store for us. Do I have the courage to embrace what he has on my jigsaw puzzle lid? Can I choose to believe it and know that all feet are different and we can’t wear anyone else’s shoes? Maybe a start is to not play the ‘I am not... good/smart/pretty/brave enough’ game.
If you are entrusted by God to do something, where are your eyes looking?
I want to finish with a paraphrase of Ephesians 1:3–14 which is Paul’s reminder of who we are in Christ:
Every follower of Jesus is a spiritual billionaire.
Tim Keller, an American theologian says: ‘If you’re upset with your status with other people, if you're constantly lashing out at people for hurting your feelings, you might call it a lack of self-control or a lack of self-esteem, and it is. But more fundamentally, you have lost touch with your identity. As a Christian, you’re a spiritual billionaire and you’re wringing your hands over ten dollars.’
Who God is, what he has done, and who He says you are, needs to be the foundation of your identity. When your identity is grounded in him you become the best version of yourself.
The jigsaw box top provides clarity, and this truth is a game changer.