This Isn’t a Moment for Mocking

Our world has become one large Colosseum. Individuals are released (or release themselves) before the masses in the stands and await judgement.

Will they receive thumbs up? Be cheered on? Become heroes? Will people toss laurel wreaths at their feet and boo all who oppose them in the ring?

Or will the crowd mock and jeer? Will people turn thumbs down at their existence? Cry for their demise as entertainment? Will tomatoes and stones sail from the stands? Will others watch them fade from this world, the sound of scornful laughter ringing in their ears?

Amazing how we justify cruelty when the crowd silently agrees to share the burden, allowing it to rest on no individual. Sad how the crowd can turn. Yesterday’s hero is today’s lion lunch.

People’s pain is no bloodsport. People of God shouldn’t mock Caitlyn Jenner, who has publicly transitioned from male to female or deride Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Washington NAACP who identifies as black despite her Caucasian birth parents.

It’s cheap to mock. Common to laugh at other people’s attempts to make sense of their lives. From ancient times to now, it’s been the choice of the masses but God’s people are called to a higher standard. We are to value human life from conception to beyond the grave.

My psychology professor took seriously his job of preparing us to work with every sort of person. He warned that we would find ourselves, often, sitting across from damaged or twisted souls with whom we could find no common ground. Since it would still be our job to minister to or to help that person, we best make a habit of seeing beneath their accumulated wounds and weirdness.

“Look,” he advised, “for the thumbprint of God. Just as every painter signs his painting, so does God leave His mark, His signature on each soul created in His image, like an indelible watermark. Find that mark to remind yourself that God values that life, has a vision for that soul. Reach out to the person God created, and you won’t lose your way.”

The struggle common to Caitlyn, Rachel, and so many others in the headlines is the struggle of every person – who am I really? What am I? Who or what defines me? When all else is stripped away, what is the name of my soul?

Names are pivotal to identity. What we call ourselves and how we are known are critical claims upon our person. Our name reveals who we are. In some cultures, people guard their names because to reveal it, is to relinquish power to another.

Parents labor over the names of their children – seeking to choose precisely the right one, knowing it will play a powerful dynamic in communicating to that child the vision for their life. A child handed just any name begins life knowing they weren’t worth their parents’ effort.

Often people settle for false names simply to end the stress of the search. Like choosing the least ugly dress in the store because you’ve lost the will to shop anywhere else. They celebrate relief more than the compromised identity.

What we call ourselves, the labels we embrace, carry power. In fact, the power to name someone or something generally rests with the one who created that someone or something, or who discovered it (like stars), or who has authority over them.

The more the world rejects the knowledge of God as Creator, the more we are left to create our own names. To define ourselves apart from the vision our Creator had when He formed us. It’s like removing an infant from the loving arms of its parents in an effort to free the child of their vision for him or her. Setting the infant in an empty room with no name or direction so she or he may discover his or her identity apart from “parental pressure.”

That’s not freedom, that’s chaos. That’s cruelty of the highest order. It’s madness. The child will certainly grow into something and will eventually claim a name but will likely be without essential dimension, depth, or direction. A soul adrift, willing to tether itself to any identity to free him or herself from the pain of having none.

We are complicated, nuanced beings. We are the work of a Master Creator who designed intricacies and complexities beyond imagining. If my skin color is white but I feel most at home with those who are of color, who am I? If my physical design is male but I most identify with females, who am I? If I am a woman but cannot relate to other women, who am I? If I was broken and damaged as a child, before I could choose my own perspective, how do I find who I am beyond the scars?

This is the work of a soul in a fallen world. All souls. To learn our own names. The name given our souls when they were first conceived in the mind of Christ.

The sooner we respect this work in others, the sooner we can be about the business of the ministry to which we are called – that of reconciliation, of connecting each soul with the God who knows his or her true name. Those who invited Jesus into the process early shouldn’t mock or scorn those who have yet to find that He is the nexus of human identity.

In essence, humanity was kidnapped at birth, taken from our true home and our true father by the evil one who enslaved us to sin. We were given names by our captor but those are not our true names. We function under slave names, slave identities, slave parameters. Our work is to access our freedom, to find our way home to the only One who knows the name given us at our birth, and learn to walk in our original birthright.

Those of us who have found the way to freedom shouldn’t mock or scorn those who have not. We should shine like stars and form constellations so bright they guide others home so they, too, can know their righteous identities and inhabit their true names.

To say my soul is female, white, and middle-aged, or male or black or purple is to terminate the search for my identity short of the all-encompassing truth. It is to settle for my slave name.

Only Christ knows my intended name, my given identity, my whole truth.

I’ll settle for nothing less – and neither should you. This isn’t a moment for mocking, it’s a moment for ministry.

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    The Conversation

  1. Carla Allaire says:

    Your thoughts are the ones that have been going through my head lately. We were raised that homosexuals were dirty, not-quite-right. It was a ‘Christian’ home. I think Abba has a wry sense of humor, because we have attracted gays, lesbians and bi-sexuals in our family and those surrounding us. At the same time, He has been pounding ‘The Love, the True Love of Jesus’ will heal ALL wounds. Those in our family have been severely wounded by the heinous sins of family members. And I came to a sort of shocking discovery–I don’t blame them! I just found a new hair stylist–he is gay. Within 10 minutes, he had told me one of the most painful experiences in his life. I felt empathy for this man, I felt love for this man. This is all very new for me, so please bear with me. Jesus is working a new work. Fire and brimstone tirades won’t save these people, the LOVE of Jesus will. The Spirit is pouring Truth into those who will hear. It is quite exciting. I pray we will understand that we are here to mimic Jesus–that instead of seeing a chubby, hitting-into-old-age woman, that people will see the Love of God and the Joy of the Spirit radiating through me and those who will be willing. It’s gonna be a wild ride, but we WERE born for such a time as this.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking words, Lori, God bless!

  2. Judith Robl says:

    You have defined the essence of our creation. God spoke forth the words “Lori, come forth” when you were conceived, but He had named you before He said “Light be!” Thank you for reminding us to look for the thumbprint of God in all we meet. Thank you for teaching us to look for His thumbprint in ourselves so that we can find who we truly are.
    Grace, peace and power to you in Jesus’ most precious name.

  3. Carmen says:

    This was very thought provoking and well written. As people (and especially as christians) it is easy to forget what our position should be when confronted with someone or something that is foreign to us. I love that you explained it all so well. It was refreshing, encouraging and a good reminder. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re really no different from them, we just sin differently than they do, but it’s only through Christ’s saving grace that we are accepted. So if we do not approach them with love and empathy, we are in essence hypocrites.

  4. Lori, Beautiful truth, once again. The phrase that convicted me, “make a habit of seeing beneath their accumulated wounds and weirdness. ” I want to make it a habit. I want to see them as God sees them not as the world defines them. Thank you my friend.