“Once Upon A Time” — those are wonderfully constructed, magical and inspiring words. When you hear them, you know that you are about to hear a story. Every life begins with “Once Upon A Time”. Every day, every relationship, every moment is a “Once Upon A Time” moment.
This weekend I led a camp focused on the theme of identity.
As I looked at the stories I surround myself with, I realized that identity is at the heart of story (99.99% of the time). If you look deeply, peal back a layer, every story is about the quest for identity. The search for identity is basic to the human experience.
We are relentless in our quest to answer these questions:
To answer to these questions is to understand identity.
One of the earliest stories, The Odyssey, is about a son’s quest to find his father. This is the such a crucial statement about humanity; a “beginning” story. In order to answer “Who am I?” Telemachus had to contend with his father.
That is the story of Israel.
That is the story of “The Prodigal Son.”
That is the story of the Church.
Identity is everything.
That’s one reason why I find Christian scripture so profound. It both articulates and illustrates the identity of the Father, so that we might understand our identity in him.
Peter wrote to the believers in Asia Minor, who were confused about their identity — their new identity in Christ, “May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead [1 Pet 1:3; CEB].”
This is a statement about identity. Because Christ is merciful, and not vengeful, he has provided a new story, beyond the story we find ourselves stuck in. In Christ, we are invited out of the stories that hurt, confound, bore and perplex us and into his story: a story where we are found with eternal life, a story where death is no longer an active threat in the cosmos. A story where God, the King of the Universe, has no end.
Tomorrow, I’ll funnel through a list of stories. It’s interesting to see the stories we surround ourselves with and connect them to the quest for…identity.