Discipleship In The Hood Series: Who Are You? : Identity Crisis

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One of my favorite animated movies is, “Kung Fu Panda”, because one of the themes of the movie deals with the identity question, “Who am I”. Po, the fat, smelly, untrained panda, was anointed as the Dragon Warrior by Master Oogway over the rigorously trained, Fabulous Five. Their trainer was the best Kung Fu instructor in China, Master Shifu. Now Master Shifu has to train the untrained Po before the enemy comes to wreak havoc on the town. Po has a hard time believing that his anointing as the Dragon Warrior was correct because he continues to compare himself to the other trained kung fu masters and gripes over how he doesn’t measure up. Po almost gives up until Master Shifu shifts his training to what would work best for training Po (“Showtime ministry” will be explained on the next blog). Po eventually realizes that he is the dragon warrior by believing within himself. Just like Master Oogway had chosen and told Po he was the dragon warrior, Jesus chose and tells us through His word, that we are sons of the living God who have been made in His image and likeness. We have been created with enormous dignity and value.

For years I’ve struggled with identity issues…and still do from time to time. Looking back on my life, I was subconsciously despising myself. I felt inferior to my peers in serving with a college ministry because one, I wasn’t the life of the party like the older ministers were and two, many of the students flocked to them for leadership instead of me. I struggled with this even in high school as I watched the most popular guy on our basketball team get celebrated for his sexual prowess towards a beautiful girl we all knew. As he explained the details of his encounter, I began to examine the many who were elated with great praise of his accomplishments. I was a little ninth-grader looking to be “significant” in the eyes of others. And the conclusion I made from observing the ruckus was, “to get acceptance with those around you, one must live a life of promiscuity”. So I pursued that life to gain a “successful identity” in the eyes of others. No one told me the terrible pains that follow this type of pursuit for significance. And, many of us, including those in the hood, do those things in order to get an identity from the streets. The value of ourselves is wrapped up in what others think of us and not what God thinks of us.

When you are able to embrace this truth of knowing who you are in Christ, you will begin to move from feeling inferior to the hood culture (or any culture) to feeling affirmed in who God has made you to be…wonderfully and fearfully made in His image, from His hand. You will be able to be comfortable in any culture because the Lord has made you to be unique and special as well. You will be walking and serving in strength and giving strength to those in the hood in the arena of identity.

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