Andrew Wild delivered a perfectly timed "Father's Day" sermon at River Oaks this weekend. The application, while not solely for fathers, is a message that I think most of us dads / men struggle with more often than perhaps our better halves. The theme was centered on defining our identity. In other words, where do we strive to find our significance; in worldly pursuits, or in the assurance of our relationship with Christ?
I cannot possibly do justice to Andrew's teaching in this space. I do want to comment on a few key points, but I strongly suggest that you download / listen to the sermon posted at the following link: (Click Here for "Our Identity Crisis" - June 19th Audio) I think you will find it extremely interesting, practical, convicting and even a bit entertaining!
In Philipians 3, Paul is making the point that we will never find true satisfaction or fulfillment when we point only to our achievements or possessions as our identity. To prove this point, he talks openly about his previous pursuits and accomplishments. Paul could easily lay claim to a higher degree of intelligence than most, a zeal and passion that few could rival and a religious discipline that was second to none. Then he summarizes all of these as "rubbish" and "loss" when compared to the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus."
I believe the key is not necessarily that these things are wrong, but in how we use these gifts, possessions, and credentials. If they become our source of value when compared to others, then it's time for a reassessment. If they become the source of our existence and determine the level of joy in our lives, then we have misplaced our identity. In other words, when we chase titles, salaries, milestones, stuff, etc., etc., etc, in order to "be somebody", then we really need to consider chasing down our relationship with God for which we are already "somebody."
Andrew used several great analogies and stories in his sermon. From Evil Knievel to Rocky Balboa to Foreigner to Travis Tritt (I told you this was a very entertaining, yet spot on scriptural message!) the examples of this identity pursuit really brought this truth home. But perhaps the best example was that of the biography on Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape. It was written that Jim had one day said that if he could only make $1MM he would be happy. Then he made $1MM and said he really needed to make $10MM to be happy. Finally, Jim Clark "Billionaire", said that a colleague in the field of software was worth $13B and he would not be satisfied until he made $13B. The moral of the story is not that God doesn't want us to set goals, use his gifts to their fullest or pursue great achievements. He just doesn't want us to continually chase these things in order to find complete satisfaction. We won't find it. It will be as if we are on an endless treadmill that we can't ever turn off, regardless of how many "next steps" we reach.
"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.