Defined by Things

iphoneC. S Lews noted that we find out who we are through our relationships with those around us. A person alone on a desert island would have a hard time figuring out their own personality; are they extroverted, kind or clever? Such personal qualities are impossible to discover without interaction with others. In essence this truth flows from the reality of God’s trinitarian nature. God is realtional by nature, and Genesis chapter 1 teaches us that he has infused life with a relational dynamic that calls us into covenantal relationship with God, each other, and creation. Jesus pointed out in his parable of the Good Samaritan that we are called to deep relationality and respect even with those who we may despise, may be prejudiced against, or who may have harmed us. Such relationships moves us towards being more human.

In our secular culture we see a tremendous desire for relationship, yet without God in the picture we often find our relationships lacking, or strained. Many no longer look to define themselves by who they are in relationship with. So instead of learning about ourselves in committed relationships, our culture runs from them, afraid of having our options and personal freedoms reduced. Thus increasingly many define themselves not by relationships but rather by the inanimate material things that we own. Instead of being known by our personal characteristics and relationships, we talk of our interests and tastes. We try to define ourselves by the clothes that we wear, our musical tastes, our tourism, the neighbourhoods in which we live, our favourite gadgets, technologies and movies.

This becomes the end game of a materialist culture devoid of an eternal spiritual dimension, we find ourselves being ruled by the material. Our toys become our captors. We become inanimate and one dimensional like the material possessions that we own, becoming more confused about who we really are.

The only way out of this existential crisis is to run to commitment. To define the whole of your life around your relationship with God, to reverse the curse by living in covenant with your loved ones, your neighbours even your enemies, to re-enter relationship with creation.

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