Dropping the Defences

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“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

It would be wonderful if we could drop our defences completely with one another. Be free to bare our souls, our cracks, our joys unhindered by fear or experiences of reproach. It takes a lot of mental energy to maintain those defences, valuable energy which wastes away in the process, forfeiting the opportunity to channel itself into something holy and beautiful.

Jesus had no defences; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and breathed not one word of justification. Jesus knew what was in man, He had no need for anyone to remind Him of the fickleness of human nature, yet He lived His life boldly in the face of exposure to mockery, jealous backlashes and the attention of hungry crowds.

Maybe we could let down our defences and let ourselves be seen as God sees us. When we live before Him we live transparently regardless of our attempts to be otherwise. God sees past our defences and loves us deeper still.

Why do we need to justify our stories? Every person’s encounter with Christ looks different. Every person’s experience of God is different. Every person’s understanding of how He moves in our lives is different.

Yes, there are always fundamental principles and truths… but no set of fingerprints are the same, no snowflake that falls replicates another.

If we laid down our defences I am convinced others would more clearly see Christ formed in us. If we uncovered the treasure within these earthen vessels and admitted once and for all that it’s Christ in us who is our hope of glory.

How liberatingly beautiful it would be to join Paul, to be unafraid and unashamed to say:

‘My experience of the law is that when I want to do good, only evil is within my reach. For I am in hearty agreement with God’s law so far as my inner self is concerned. But then I find another law in my bodily members, which is in continual conflict with the law which my mind approves, and makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is inherent in my mortal body. For left to myself, I serve the law of God with my mind, but in my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin. It is an agonising situation, and who can set me free from the prison of this mortal body? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7 v 21-25

Maybe it is no coincidence that Paul was one of the most influential men in the early church. He was aware of himself, but better still- he was acutely aware of God.

Resting in Identity

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‘The insecure often fight for identity and mistake rights for responsibilities. The more secure we become, the easier it is to live out of our divine nature, the ultimate place of rest’. – Bill Johnson

I found myself fighting for identity recently, although the concept of ‘fighting’ for my own identity makes no sense when I think about it. My true identity cannot be stolen, distorted or disposed of. It remains with me as it is me, my identity is God given. So why the defensiveness? Why the fight?

The root of it all is we forget whose hands our identity rests in. Our identity is placed firmly in the hands of God and He graciously bestows that identity into our hands. It takes a huge amount of trust in God to believe that our identity never rests in the hands of others, no matter who they are, what they have achieved or their position in life.

In my own moment of identity insecurity and defensiveness, I felt judged. The way others spoke to and addressed me, the things they said, all seemed to assume I lacked experience and knowledge of things where the opposite was true. I faced a choice of either listing off my ‘cv’ of experience and knowledge, bowing down to pride in the process- or saying nothing, allowing myself to be humbled.

It was a battle, I spoke a little of the things I had experienced but felt pride rearing its obvious head, and I didn’t like it at all. So, I stopped and said nothing, feeling indignant on the inside.

Then, in a quiet moment I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me with this gentle reminder:

‘As long as God knows who you are and you know who you are- that’s all that matters’.

It was so simple and so obvious, but I had allowed lies to cloud my thoughts and judgment. The release I experienced when I regained a hold on the truth was extremely liberating. I let my defences down and focused on the task at hand.

God knew what He had placed within me. He knew what I had experienced in life, He knew the things I had learned in the process, and He would utilise those things in me as and when He needed to and not a moment before.

It takes an act of humility to refuse to defend our identities, to rest in who we are.  But that is where we need to be, humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. For He gives grace to the humble…and His grace is what we need.