Identity or Experience?
Written By Greg Miller
Have you ever found out that a friend has cancer and then started going around telling others that your friend IS cancer? Would you tell someone that has a tumor that they ARE a tumor? We are horrified by such thoughts. The problem is that we (at least I) do it every day. We tell someone who suffers from bi-polar disorder that they ARE bi-polar. We tell someone with black skin color that they ARE black. We tell someone suffering from addiction that they ARE an addict.
When we do these things we reduce human beings made in the image of God to some aspect of their experience. We identify their past experience and we remove hope.
If you ARE bi-polar, well, you are what you are. If you suffer from bi-polar disorder, however, you can have hope that you can manage it or that it might go away. If you ARE black, well, good luck changing that. If you have black skin, the possibilities for your future are only limited by your aspirations and dreams. If you ARE an addict, well, get used to a life of addiction to one thing or another. If you suffer from addiction there is hope that through prayer and the power of God that that can change.
Our ability to serve those suffering from mental illness, racial discrimination, (and/ or) addiction is greatly diminished unless we change our thinking and realize that those experiences do not define who people are.
Character can overcome experience but character cannot change identity.
May God help us to live this as out as image-bearers of God.
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