Bear with me as my stream of consciousness goes (and goes). My heart was stirred this past week or two (pen to paper isn't as frequent these days for me, but doesn't mean the Lord isn't working!)...anyway, I have been thinking about our uniqueness, and what part that plays in our lives, and parts of our lives that it doesn't belong. I am always in awe to think about how unique our Creator makes everything. How perfectly different all of us are and how unique we are to the rest of His creation. He chose to dwell with us; He chose to give us a life that is filled with joy, purpose and impact - even amidst a broken world - not because He needed us, but because He wanted us to know Him.
In our uniqueness, The Lord has gifted each person differently. Some similar gifts, but uniquely utilized; uniquely matured and used depending on where or when He has placed us.
He gives us these unique gifts in order to serve our neighbor in ways that they might not otherwise see grace. He gives us unique gifts intended for His purposes and ultimately for His glory...and that flourish with the power of the Holy Spirit. We are given our uniqueness to compliment others in the Body of Christ who were given different gifts. We effectively compliment others with this power of our Living God; that Spirit that is living in us. (1 Corinthians 12). The Spirit flourishing these gifts is the same Spirit guiding us, leading us to repent, making real CHANGE in us. (Not just change that comes with diets or resolutions or new routines. He changes our hearts and aligns our wills with the Father's. Sorry rabbit trail.) This is always something that just floors me when I think on this reality: That Holy Spirit that is promised to live in us is the same Spirit that ROSE JESUS FROM THE GRAVE. Humor me and sit on that for just a minute. Not just the words from the resurrection and how the Holy Spirit rose the flesh of Jesus (as if that isn't enough to blow your mind), but that THAT SAME SPIRIT...with that SAME power...is promised to live inside of you and me. In faith, we walk with that same power working in, on and through us.
I have seen different gifts the Lord has given me. All good gifts, but some, in my sin-nature and through rejection of His will, have led me into sin. Gifts that became identity or were used for selfish gain or with tainted motives; gifts that got to a place they didn't belong in my heart. And, only through the power of the Holy Spirit was I able to see how these gifts may be able to glorify the One who gave them to me.
So we are all unique in our gifts, but we are also perfectly unique in our limitations, which is also a good thing.
Our God knows every fiber of us and knows exactly how to bring us home. Without our limitations, we wouldn't turn to Him. We wouldn't cease. We wouldn't be able to surrender the very things we need to surrender in this fight of faith. None of us are the end-all-be-all. And if you think you are, then I hate to be the one to serve you humble pie...but I sure had to eat some of that to come to the reality that "I am not enough". I need Jesus and I need those who He put in my life to serve me and for the Lord to use them to grow my faith in ways I am limited.
Let me just point out that this God of the Universe - the Creator of all things with immeasurable power - put on limitations to serve you and me. He became a human. He grew tired, He was hungry, He was tempted. He suffered in order to do what He needed to do to save us; to pay the price in full and to satisfy a JUST wrath of God...He had to walk through this life with limitations in order to be the perfect sacrifice for God to save His people. He voluntarily clothed Himself with limitations and look at the glory it brought to the Father. Our limitations aren't things to be shunned, they are things to be celebrated when they bring glory to God.
In the same vein as limitations, but different because these are heart-driven, we are unique in our sin struggles and how those manifest in our lives.
We all don't live in a way our sin is on our sleeve. Some of it is private, secretive from those around us, even those we love. We try to hide where our heart pulls us away from joy; we try to hide the enemy lies - and the lies we believe - that cause us to reject our purpose; we try to hide in lies to ourselves that it's not that bad, or it's not AS bad as another. We try to convince ourselves that we do more good than this bad, so surely it's not enough to get God's attention. It's all bad folks. It's all offensive. It's all known. And the rainbow: He redeems every bit of it. He works to redeem it here in our growth as we walk with Him, and has perfectly redeemed us through Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to us through faith.
Uniqueness, just like all good things, is no longer good when it's taken out of its right place. Our culture, generally, takes uniqueness too far.
We are unique in our failures and our victories (emotionally, physically, professionally, personally, publicly). The bad comes when we identify in those and our lens for life starts to create unique-self idolatry; when “you be you/follow your heart/all ways are good” begins to define who we are, we build our house on sand. Uniqueness is important to see in order to worship our God; but it is not the object of our worship or praise. What we do when we idolize uniqueness is turn our praise toward the creation instead of the Creator. Uniqueness allows us to see God's creativity, God's grace, God's power to save and change our lives. In and of itself, it doesn’t sustain us.
However, the most powerful thing about walking this earth isn't our uniqueness, it is our unity.
Our unity in the fall. The very fact that no matter the gifts or successes or "good things" we do or are given, we are all fallen, and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 2:23) That unites us (yes in a negative way, but Praise God it doesn't end there). We are also united with the ONE thing we truly need in this world because of this fallen nature; we need Jesus. God didn't want heaven without us. He wouldn't just let us fall and stay condemned; He sent His only Son to pay in full that punishment you and I deserve. Jesus was sent to live a perfect life and bear the full wrath of God (that no man could do). Jesus unites and defines us in a more real and imperishable way than any of the other unique characteristics we walk with here. Our sin, struggle, gifts, victories don't define us, and they certainly don't sustain us; they will all perish. And without Jesus, we would all perish. And praise the Lord it doesn't just end with this high and low roller coaster of life. Each of those things that doesn't define us, shapes us - the unique things, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, conforms us to the image of our Savior. It draws us nearer to the only real thing we can cling to as we ride life.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28