Notes from Brother Jay

      How does a person define him or herself?  Are we “what we do,” as in our occupations?  Are we “male or female?”  Am I defined by my role as “husband,” or Kathy as “wife?”  Do you identify with where you reside, “Irwin County,” or “Southern?”  In the world we live in there seems to be quite a lot of confusion about some of this.  
      In some respects, this is subjective.  How we view ourselves is really up to us.  Nevertheless, knowing who I am, how I define myself, affects how I integrate into my community.    How I view myself affects my mental and spiritual health.  Most of us define ourselves with several labels, not just one, but in this context Christian or child of God might be most reasonable.  
      We often recite the Apostle’s Creed during our service.  The Creeds, the Nicene and the Apostles’, date far back in the history of the church.  Serving distinct purposes then, both offer us the opportunity to remind ourselves who we are in Christ today.  Reciting the Creed together isn’t something we do to remind ourselves we are United Methodists, or reach back to our “traditional” roots, it’s a statement of what we believe! What we believe, where we put our faith, is foundational in how we think.  
      What we think about ourselves and “who we are” is highly affected by where we place our faith.  When we establish Christ as the center of our faith, then love is the foundation we build on.  When we recognize the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer (the Holy Spirit) as Lord of all life, of our lives, we opt for divine power freeing us from our self-centeredness.  We become less critical of ourselves, less aware of comparison (of others to ourselves) judgements, and less focused on imperfections and shortcomings.  
      Let’s not forget it’s an inside job.  Jesus tells us we must forgive before we are forgiven, we must become servants in order to lead, and we must die in order to live.  Remember this conversation between Jesus and a night visitor;
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8
      When we focus on Christ, we are free to love as Christ loved, to live as Christ lived.  By sharing each other’s burdens as family, the family of God, the world can see the love of God manifested here and now!
      It’s not just what we say, it’s what we believe, it’s who we are.
Peace,

Brother Jay

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