Each of us are defined by something; a personality trait – kindness or jealousy; your occupation, even your appearance can define you. You can also be defined by your relationship to another person – how many people in our culture are known simply because they are married to a famous athlete or politician? Would any of us know Todd Palin without Sarah Palin? It’s not fair, that’s just the way it is. The point is that we are all defined by something. People know us in a certain way for a reason.
The question for the Christian is: How do people know you? What is it that defines you in the eyes of other people?
It’s a given that we should not be defined by negative things. Anger, inappropriate language, lying etc should never define the believer. In fact we are to work so that these things do not define us (Colossians 3:8-9). But there are also positive things that should not – don’t miss this – not be the defining characteristic of our lives. Things like the church you attend, how many missions trips you have been on, how religious you are or your generosity should not be the first thing people think of when they think of you. While all of these things are good and worthy goals for the Christian, by themselves they are, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says vanity or empty. They can all be done for the wrong reasons. They alone should not define us.
There is only one thing that should define the Christian. It’s in the name we carry – Christ. It is His life that should define us. Everything about the Christian should exude His love, His thoughts, His actions, his motives, his concerns, His desires – until people no longer see us but they see His life being lived out through us.
The Apostle put it this way: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). The mind refers to how we think, how we process all of life. We are to process life through a mind that is permeated by the mind of Christ. His mind is to engulf us, soak us, saturate us until people cannot distinguish our mind from His. That’s when we will be defined by Christ.
Unless and until we are defined by the person of Christ we will have no lasting impact on the world; we will not live up to our calling as Christians; we will make no significant difference. It’s only when we are defined by Christ that the words of Paul in the book of Romans will be true of us: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
So what defines you? What is it that people think of when they think of you? What do they see when they look at you? Is it Christ? If it’s something besides Him, no matter how good it might be there is still work to do. Refuse to be defined by lesser things.
Stay in the Word