Message from the Chaplain
I read this article from the writer, Nils Von Kalm and I so much wanted to share it with you. Within the thoughts of this article there may be some answers to questions in your life.
15 January 2018
NILS VON KALM
LONELY?: Nils von Kalm says that like Jesus, those who know God are never truly alone. PICTURE: Andrew Hutchings/Unsplash
Many African communities have a concept called Ubuntu, which means “Because we are, I am”. The concept describes how they gain their identity from being part of a group. In my life here in Australia, we generally gain our identity from being an individual, and not from being aligned to a particular group.
In Western society, we generally believe that a sense of self is gained from having the ‘freedom’ to be on our own. Advertising tells us that, for men at least, to be free is to be on your own in your new car on the open road, away from the distractions of family and other responsibilities. Or, for a young person, it is up and leaving your job to travel the world and have adrenaline-pumping experiences. Either way, it is not generally about living as part of something bigger than yourself in community with others. Community and relationship is seen as too distracting because it is difficult. It has been said that community is where there is always someone you don’t want to be around. Because of that, it forces you to grow, to compromise and to relate in the real world where you don’t always get what you want.
All this has made me think about the best way to gain my sense of who I am. In a Christian sense, I believe identity is best gained not by asking “who am I?”, but “whose am I?”. My identity is found ultimately in the fact that I am in the family of God. There is a God who loves and accepts me for who I am, despite my many flaws. I don’t have to change to be accepted by this God. I am free to be who I really am. This God woos me to live a life of love, but it is not something I “should” or “must” do. I am drawn to live like this by the love this God shows me. “We love because He first loved us”.
This One who first loved us – Jesus - ultimately had His identity in the fact of being the Son of God. He had this affirmed to Him a couple of times audibly, firstly at His baptism, and then at His transfiguration. Both times, the voice said “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased". What a secure place to be! Jesus had it affirmed to Him that He was the pleasing Son of God. We are also told He grew in favour with God. That doesn’t mean that God became more pleased with Him as His life went on, but that He grew in his awareness of His favour with God.
Jesus also had friends, not just followers. And He let them know they were His friends and that He needed them. Within His friendship group, He had a few who were closer than others. Peter, James and John were His more intimate friends, the ones He shared His life with more than the others. They were the ones He was more vulnerable with.
Jesus lived the ultimate balanced life. His ultimate identity came from knowing that He was beloved of God, that He had an intimacy with God. That sustained Him above all else, gave Him joy and freed Him from feeling any sense of the shame that so many of us feel. At the same time though, He also needed his friends. He expressed His need of them most vulnerably in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the agony of the hour of His greatest need. He also spent time alone - whole nights, in fact. But even then, He was not isolating or isolated. He was never really alone. During those long nights by Himself, He was communing with his Father.
The human person is not designed to be alone. We are made for relationship and community. And, like Jesus, we are never alone. If we feel lonely, it's not a true indicator of our actual state.
Identity is ultimately gained through the wonderful knowledge that we are accepted by the God of the universe, and that nothing we do can ever separate us from Him. Within that, our identity is gained through living out that love in community with others, and through spending time alone communing with this loving God.
The ultimate question, “who am I?”, is replaced by the much more hopeful question, “whose am I?”, and the answer is always the deepest affirmation that we are children of God, born not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but born of God (John 1:12-13). We are secure. Nothing can ever remove us from that.
I’m reminded of the verse in the book of John that says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believed in Him will never die but have eternal life”…..
Say no more,
Chaplain, Christian College Geelong, Bellarine Campus.
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