Sometimes (honestly, most of the time), I do not like to tell anyone I am an ordained minister.  When I used to be active with my real estate license part time I would always tell them I was in real estate. The main reason is people often will not be themselves when they find out.  I was so glad my neighbor didn’t tell anyone I was a minister at the Super Bowl Party.  I dodged a bullet.  It’s not that people want to have deep religious conversations. The main reason is people often will not be themselves when they find out.

I remember one time our insurance salesman came to the house.  He was quite himself till we got to filling out the forms.  When we got to the “employment” section, I had to tell him.  I tried to let it out as fast as I could, but he was quite swift on the uptake.  I guess it’s good to have an insurance salesman quick on the uptake.  Suddenly, he changed right before my eyes.  I actually stopped him at one point and told him to relax.  He was not going to burst into flames before my eyes.  

I’m also a chaplain for the Bluffton police and fire department.  Most people don’t act differently with the title “chaplain” like they do with a “minister.”  Maybe they quickly realize a chaplain for emergency responders sees and experiences the dark side of life a bit more than the average pastor.  They do not identify chaplain with minister.  

Identity can be very interesting in our culture.  Often, all of us experience multiple identities and we are not mentally ill.  I can be identified as a minister, husband, father, grandfather, friend, counselor, chaplain, and neighbor.  It is not uncommon to take on one hat and put on another.  We run into problems when the hat determines the person.  

When it comes to being a believer in Jesus Christ, we might add a bunch more hats to the rack.  We can be “Joe pew-sitter, teacher, elder, deacon, missionary, student, and more.  Add denominations and…lets not go there.  I find it interesting that our hat often defines us instead of our Christ defining how we function under the hat.  

I got schooled recently, and it was quite an education.  I was informed a lady I have known for about 2 years has had stage 4 cancer for the past 6 years.  I had no idea.  The only reason I found out is her most recent doctor’s report was not very good.  The cancer is winning.  As I spoke with her, she set me straight; “I don’t want to be defined by my cancer.  I want my cancer to be defined by my God.”  I cannot get her words out of my head.  She didn’t just say the words; she lives them. 

I want to be known the same way.  I’ve got to be honest once again.  Christians are some of the biggest complainers out there.  We even pray like God is supposed to allow us to live forever and never fight such things as cancer and other diseases.  As my friend said, “Why not me when it comes to cancer.”  Her eternity is determined, and she doesn’t have to fear it.  As she continued, “Why not live well…I got the bases covered.”  I love her more than ever.  

We complain about so much.  Unfortunately, non-believers know we can complain.  Ask any waiter or waitress which day of the week they hate to see come.  It’s Sunday.  More food gets sent back to the kitchen on Sunday afternoon than any other time.  It’s the day the Christians don’t go home to eat after church.  

Our identity is not an identity associated with love, grace, and mercy.  Our identity is often defined by the hat we have on.  It might even be that our identity is by the clothes we wear or the attitude we possess.  The Apostle Paul told us in Philippians to have the attitude of Christ.  I wonder how much food Jesus would send back to the kitchen any Sunday afternoon.  

All the hats I wear are quite fun.  I hope that the day I die they will write on my tombstone…”He wore a lot of hats, but he was the same guy under them all.”  

Thank, you my friend, for reminding me of my redeemed identity.  “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”   

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