Two significant lies about significance, part 2

Rembrandt-Wikipedia

Rembrandt’s “The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of Smell)”

In part 1 I addressed lie #1 that Satan speaks regarding significance — You’re not important.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that whispered in my subconscious ear, but it’s more than I care to count. Lies are always combated by truth, though. And the truth of the matter is that you (and I) are a work of God and are loved by God. That, dear friend, is your identity.

And as I said in part 1, identity precedes responsibility in God’s economy.

The second lie has to do with responsibility.

Before getting to that lie, though, follow me through this wonderful story:

In 2016, a small, slightly damaged oil painting was drug out of a basement in New Jersey. The owners figured it would fetch several hundred benjamins (those are hundred dollar bills if you can’t track with my flyness) at auction because it looked oldish and had some character. Imagine their shock when someone told them they’d had a Rembrandt tucked away in their dingy basement in Jersey all these years.

The small painting, it turns out, was part of Rembrandt’s early series on the five senses. When I say early, he was about 18 when he painted the work pictured above. After being purchased for close to $1 million, it has been on display at the Getty Museum in California.

The real tragedy of that painting being left in an unseen corner is that the work couldn’t be enjoyed by others and the artist couldn’t receive credit for his work. 

On a far greater scale, how tragic is it that you and me, masterpieces of God, could live as though stuck in a gloomy basement or stuffy attic, neglecting to reflect the glory of our Creator and failing to be awe-inspiring displays of His genius and attention to detail…

This consideration leads us to the second lie.

LIE #2: What you do isn’t important.

Hot on the heels of attacking identity, Satan’s next move is to go after responsibility. In fact, I’m convinced that one of his primary tactics is to blur the lines in our minds and get us to confuse the two, so that I become what I do. Thus, what I’m doing (or not doing) becomes who I am (or who I am not).

It’s part of the reason one of the first questions guys ask one another is ‘what do you do for a living’. As if what you do tells me what I need to know about who you are. Only if you tell me you’re a ventriloquist, then I feel like I know all I need to know.

But no matter what someone does, the whispers come…

  • It isn’t significant enough.
  • It isn’t noteworthy enough.
  • It doesn’t make enough money.
  • It won’t make a lasting enough impact.

For the last decade, I have gone all in on the lie that I have to do something grand, something large-scale, something that people would talk about and perhaps even line up to see or experience.

It’s no surprise that over that same period I never had strong sense of my identity as a son of God. I was so wrapped up in doing things for God that I had never absorbed being loved by God.

Until you feel loved by God, you’ll feel like you have to perform at a certain, undefined and also unattainable level.

It turns out the significance of what we do isn’t wrapped up in what we do.

The Apostle Paul’s instructions to slaves in first century Colossae give us marching orders today

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3.22-24, CSB)

These verses say nothing about what you do. But they say everything about how and why you do it.

Wholeheartedly. Not for the applause or approval of people. Work as unto the Lord for from Him you will receive your reward.

Bottom line? Your attitude and mine is what keeps what we do from being significant.

It’s not about going out and starting something new or building something bigger.

It’s about acknowledging that you are God’s handiwork and as such,  living faithfully so that you put His artistry and majesty on display for the world to see.

 

 

 

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Two significant lies about significance, part 1

pexels-photo-243076

There are at least two lies Satan will whisper in your ear about your significance.

LIE #1: You’re not important.

There are 7 billion people in the world (give or take a few several handfuls of millions).

What makes you special? You aren’t significant, especially compared to that significant person over there.

Sometimes we’re able to shut down such thoughts…other times, we’re crushed. We follow the road most traveled. Destination, self-pity.

The answer to Lie #1 rests securely in your identity.

That you’ve been created in the image of God. You and every person you meet are image bearers of God. “We are God’s workmanship,” wrote the Apostle Paul to some folks in the 1st century struggling with identity.

Just like art curators and experts identify works of art based on certain characteristics or styles of an artist, you are identified as this remarkable work of God because you bear His image. You have the capacity to think and feel and love and imagine possibilities of what could be.

King David captures this beautifully in Psalm 139.13-14

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.

I know. It should say “fearfully and wonderfully…” You start using fearfully in everyday conversation and I’ll change it.

For now, though, you are awe-inspiring, worthy of reverence, distinct, distinguished, set apart. Just how you felt after your last screw up, right?

Think about the fact that the Spirit of the living God inspired David to write that about you, of all people! You. You are remarkable and wondrous. A work of God.

But sometimes you don’t feel remarkable, do you?

Our failures have a way of reminding us how unremarkable we can be. It’s in those moments we feel this thing called SHAME.

SHAME tells its own lies: (Brené Brown gave a TED talk on this that went viral)

  • Shame says you didn’t just make a mistake. You are a mistake.
  • Shame says you didn’t just fail. You are your failure.

And in those moments when shame or guilt or fear or insecurity crowds in and starts telling you lies, that’s when you have to proclaim these gospel truths:

  • I am a work of God.
  • I am loved by God.

Until you are able to embrace the deep reality that you are loved by God simply for being, you will always struggle to feel significant because your identity is not secure. More than likely you will seek identity in what you do, a responsibility of some kind.

But in God’s economy, identity precedes responsibility.

It’s why God came to Abraham and established a relationship before sending Him out. It’s why God established a relationship with Moses and Israel b/f giving the law.

You have been created by God…You couldn’t be loved by God any more than you are in this very moment. Drink it in.

I’ll post Lie #2 soon enough, so check back. Better yet, subscribe and have each new post sent straight to your inbox.