Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Who You Are": A Response

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
My heart has grown heavy, as I have observed thousands upon thousands of Christian women believe the message of a web-popular video: "Who You Are: A Message To All Women" (The Anima Series). 

For weeks, I pushed aside the desire to respond to the video, but I feel I cannot withhold honest thoughts much longer. I firmly believe that the Body of Christ must speak the truth in love and fulfill the call to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, out of our reverence for Christ and for His Word. 

I am upset because I feel that this video is misleading women everywhere. 

I am not a perfect person. Please examine my words and thoughts as you would examine others'; test them, and align them to the Bible. This is not about being right; this is about the Word of God. Ultimately, the holy Scriptures must be what we turn to for knowledge of God and truths about who believers are in Christ.

Ladies, my heart is grieved because, while I see where the speaker is coming from and what he is trying to instill in our minds, his words and statements have little upon which to stand if spoken apart from the entire message of the gospel. His intentions are indeed good, and I so appreciate what their team is attempting to do. But the message is incomplete and therefore offers us little help for our insecurities, a false sense of encouragement, and little to no clarity about the person who is our true confidence: Jesus Christ. 

I will draw out two major themes from the video that do not align with Scripture, in hopes that we will ponder them and get in the Word regarding them. 

Point one: We have worth, but we are not worthy. 

Twice the speaker talks about us being deserving people. He says that we are "worthy of love and affection", and that we deserve someone to die for us. Neither of these statements are true. In fact, we deserve the exact opposite; we deserve eternal separation from God and His wrath, because apart from Christ, we are sinners by nature (Ephesians 2). And yes, this is plain offensive--the gospel is just that because it tells us the raw truth about who we once were apart from Christ.

Does this mean God does not love us? Of course He does! We have innate worth because we are made in the image of the Creator, Himself. He fashioned us to glorify Him forever. God desires that all would come to salvation in Christ because He loves the people He created. Nothing can match our basic, God-given worth, which is why we stand apart from everything else in all creation. 

But--

We fell into sin. And that ruined everything. Because we would forever be separated from God, He sent a Savior to live the perfect life we could not live, ourselves. Never did we, and never are we, worthy or deserving of love and affection and the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. Romans says that no one is good, not one! No one can be good enough or awesome enough or powerful enough to earn their way to God, let alone set themselves free. Only Christ could make a way for our restoration to the Father, a way for His loving kindness in grace to be lavished upon us when we believed--only Christ. 

You may be thinking, "So what? That may all be true, but how does that help me feel more secure in myself?" You see, THIS is love--not that we loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins. THIS is love, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! THIS is love, that while we still followed the course of the world, Christ gave up His very rights and came to live on earth so that we could be saved. THIS is love, this gospel reality, should fill you with so much gratitude and amazement and weeping and security and strength and confidence, unlike any other message or material thing or self-esteem jargon can! In Christ, you are regenerated, alive and secured in eternity because He loves you THAT much. You are rich! 

This means that, when you feel like the odd one out at school, you can rest assured that your hope lies not in popularity or in being good enough or funny enough or smart enough, but your hope lies in Jesus Christ who defeated death, itself, for YOU. For your sake and the Father's glory. No amount of telling yourself that you deserve love, or that you're beautiful, or that it's your responsibility to free yourself, will help you or save you or make you feel secure. Only Christ can do that for you. These are at best unhelpful statements, and at worst, may be completely untrue! 

Only the One who knew pain and suffering and death, yet defeated it all, has the last say about who you are. Only He is the way, the truth, and the life. Nothing else suffices to satisfy you. Only Christ. 

Point two: Who we really are is not about us.

Want to know who you are? What we all need is truth from Scripture, both to encourage our hearts about our true identity in Christ, and to discern statements that fall short, tell half the story, or altogether miss the point of Christ being the glorified One. While it may feel good to hear the speaker insist that we are powerful, strong, awesome world-changers, these boosts to our self-esteem are not the whole truth. They will not help us to understand our situation in moments when we are faced with our weaknesses. 

We are called to lose our lives for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus, who alone is powerful and strong and awesome, simply because He Is God. When the focus turns to us, we are stating that God is merely an ornament for how very amazing WE are. We completely belittle the cross of Christ when we turn our focus from His glory and His awesomeness and His power to our own. We are nothing apart from Him. We must boast in Christ. Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, 
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Christian woman, this is who you are:

You are justified through faith in Christ, not by works. (Romans 5:9, Galatians 2:15)

You are helped by the Spirit. (Romans 8:26)

You have the mind of Christ. (1Corinthians 1:16)

In your weakness, God is strong and provides grace to sustain you. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

You are an heir of God through adoption. (Galatians 4:1-7)

You are set free by Christ alone. (Galatians 5:1)

You are redeemed through His blood and forgiven your sins. You are part of God's plan for the fullness of time to unite all things to Christ. You are given an eternal hope. You are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit and given a seat in the heavenly places with your name on it. 
(Ephesians 1:3-14)

You are beloved children, called to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

You are compelled and strengthened by God's grace to do good works and to be light in a dark world. (Philippians 2:12-18)

You are delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son, presented to the Father as holy and blameless. (Colossians 1:13-23)

You are alive together with Christ, who disarmed the rulers and authorities and gives you victory over sin and death. (Colossians 2:13-15)

You are called to be ruled by the peace of Christ and the Word of God. (Colossians 4:15-17)

This is who you are! Who you are is all about Christ. He created all things, sustains all things, and in Him all things will eventually be united. I love what the speaker says here: "I am a daughter of the living God, cherished, loved, and adored above all things by the Creator of all things for the glory of him who is greater than all things." I only wish the entire video had exalted the glory of Christ as this true statement does.

What confidence and peace and rest and joy these truths instill in the hearts and minds of those who love Him! Look no further than Christ, and believe in no other message about your identity than the gospel, itself. Only the gospel provides the whole account, and only Christ graciously gives us the answers about life and purpose that we seek. You are HIS.

I write this humbly, knowing that not everyone will agree. Please, if you have any questions about any of the above, or if you want to start a conversation, comment below or email me. I would love to talk with you! 

In the meantime, be blessed as you pursue Christ above all things, to His glory. Be strengthened by His power and might to sustain you, as you seek to glorify Him and exalt His Name above every other name! 

[Another resource: "You're Awesome--But Not That Awesome" by Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God.]

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