Frederick Beuchner said, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” I imagine this is mostly true, but how many of us ever get there? Of course, there are people who seem to naturally find their true calling. Mother Teresa being the perfect example. We often consider them superior in holiness; having a divine calling or knowledge of God, while the rest of us seem to flounder around for the better part of our lives. Then there are those less spiritual who are sure they have found it. Perhaps they are actors, singers, doctors, or lawyers.
But here is the question: is this their true calling in Christ? Or is it the vocation they have chosen based on their own desires apart from God? One cannot be sure. However, I think they can be two different things. Is it possible to generate our own ‘calling’ based on how the world wants us to live? A direction created from a false self we have created contingent upon what we think the world wants us to be?
Is there yet another deeper calling based on our true self revealed through our Creator Christ Himself?
In his book Let your Life Speak, J Palmer says, “before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” Furthermore, in The Gift of Being Yourself, David Benner discussed the many false ways we can achieve uniqueness: “these all result from attempts to create a self rather than receive the gift of my self-in-Christ. But the uniqueness that comes from being our true self is not a uniqueness of our own making. Identity is never simply a creation. It is always a discovery. True identity is always a gift from God.”
If this is true than the ‘what am I supposed to do?’ question must start with receiving our identity from Christ. Whether or not we find our true calling may be secondary. How can Christ unveil our true calling if He has yet to unveil our true self? This of course begs the question: who are we in Christ? What is our true self?
First off, it is important to address the issue of why most of us tend to create a false (or partially false) version of ourselves. Let us assume that everything destructive in the world is a result of sin. Afterall, it was sin that unleashed shame into the human soul. It was shame that caused Adam and Eve to hide from God. Perhaps we have been hiding ever since. Don’t we mask parts of our true self from others, putting forth a persona we think the world will like better?
Here is the most beautiful part of all of this. God wants to reveal our true self.
Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are spiritually restored to who we are meant to be in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. That is who we are in Christ. It is from that position that He desires to reveal our true self. Once we know who we are, we can begin to know how we are called.
Knowing who we are in Christ can be an emotional journey because to know who we are in Christ means to know who we are without Him. It means examining ourselves in light of God’s holiness. Only then do we get an accurate picture of ourselves as Benner goes on to explain: “paradoxically, we come to know God best not by looking at God exclusively, but by looking at God and then looking at ourselves-then looking at God, and then again at ourselves. This is also the way we best come to know ourselves. Both God and self are most fully known in relationship to each other.”
For instance, prior to knowing Christ, I was an alcoholic, rageaholic, selfaholic, and more. I began to see how these problems stemmed from the false self I had created in my fallen nature.
Furthermore, this ‘self’ when measured against God’s holiness was quite broken.
As God began to reveal my identity in Him, a slow and gradual transformation began to occur. A humble look at ourselves in light of God’s perfection is the only way we can begin to know and understand our true self. Ephesians 2:1-10 offers a humble if not perfect example of our true identity reveled through Christ:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
P.S. If you would like to dig deeper into your identity in Christ, join me on a five week identity exploration course. Check out the course description here https://youtu.be/awAFWKiur2M then register by clicking courses on this website in the upper right hand side.