Facebook is in the news this morning. They are reeling from allegations that they have gone too far. But so many other organizations are on a similar quest – all around us people want to know what we know about ourselves.
Log on any of a million websites and before long they will start prying for information. Who are you? Or go through an airport and you will face identity issues there. Can you prove who you say you are?
The irony is that there is so much about ourselves that we may still struggle to understand. We wrestle with identity issues. Am I too insecure? How am I relative to my friends? How much should I share with them?
People today struggle with identity in so many different venues. Shouldn’t our churches do at least as good a job of validating our identities as Facebook does? When we go to church, shouldn’t we be at least as popular as Norm when he walked into Cheers?
The one clear mandate we have to meet together can be found in Heb. 10:24-25
: “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”
To me, that sounds kind of like Cheers. Maybe that could be a minimum standard for Church. It should be a place that helps you with your identity issues. A place where you are known, where you are greeted you with the same gusto that Norm could expect at Cheers.
Some questions along those lines:
- Do you have some people who know you – the real you?
- Do they encourage you?
- Do they spur you on to love?
- Do they spur you on to good deeds?
Your answer to those questions may indicate whether you are experiencing church. This is a prescription for health, not narcissism. Loving ourselves helps us love others better – Jesus tells us to love others as we love ourselves.
A church that knows you
Young people especially have questions about their identity. Shouldn’t we be helping them?
What if they heard this message from us:
“There is a Father in heaven whose son or daughter you are. He created you and wants you to experience his love through his family – the Church. You belong to them; they need to know you.”
Do you know a church that does that? The world needs some churches that celebrate us when we walk through the door.
Consider the notion that Jesus’ body on planet earth should see all its members deeply connected. That was Jesus’ dream and his heartfelt prayer in John 17.
For example, here’s a picture of a part of the cafeteria at the ministry where I serve.
Take a close look. There are eight separate one-on-one conversations happening there. In a way it’s the opposite of Facebook friendship. People are getting what they’re made for: They are known and seen.
It affords us such an opportunity. Imagine if the Church was amazing at validating identity. Isn’t that what we all long for?