Last week I was having a great conversation with some friends. We were talking about our overseas experiences. I love traveling. It seriously changes my life every time I go somewhere. I love listening to how others are stretched through their overseas experiences. I love watching as passion flows out of the heart as someone talks about their experiences.
As I was thinking about my different experiences, one thing kept coming up every time. I have noticed that people ask different questions when being introduced. Seems like a no brainer thought, but it’s worth noting. Each culture gets to know someone in different ways. In the US, we ask a series of three questions to one another. We ask one another: where are you from? Where did you go to school? And what do you do? The answers to these questions mark our identities. These three questions shape the conversation. We can even make judgments by how these questions are answered.
What I have noticed about everywhere else but here is that those questions do not even come up. I can remember three distinct areas where the questioning was different. I have traveled around the Middle East, spent a semester in Spain, as well as spent time in South Africa. Where ever I was, people asked me about what I believed. I was so taken aback by how often I was asked that first. We, in the US, do not even go there. In other cultures, what you believe defines who you are. That’s how it should be.
It seems like in the era of social media, there are so many places to read what people are “about.” Most people seem to have an “about me” page. Listed on this page are hobbies, movies, employment, education, and at least one sentence that describe the person. All these things make up the identity of someone.
But does it really?
Last year, I was teaching a group of high school girls about what their identity in Christ means. I realized that our identity in Christ is unchanging. We are his beloved. In him we are enough. We are saved by grace, forgiven of sin, and adopted as sons and daughters into the throne. We are children to the “Abba father“. This never changes.
Our “about me” changes all the time. There are some things that stay consistent, (I will always love to sky dive and bungee jump), but the other stuff changes. My “about me” does not define who I am. Where I live, where I went school, and what I do, does not define my identity. My identity has been defined for me by the one who died for me.
It seems that other cultures ask a great question – “What do you believe?”
I can attest to some incredible conversations that have come from exchanging answers.
So what do you believe?
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