So I love this paradox about following Jesus: the more we become like Him, the more we are ourselves. This means Jesus is a refuge for our individuality, uniqueness, and identity. And honestly, Jesus is a refuge against the pressures of religious people who demand conformity to a religious culture. We can run hard after Jesus and never give up any genuine part of ourselves—no matter who slings criticism.

I love the story at the end of John when the resurrected Jesus appears on the shoreline and fixed breakfast. Peter (I love that guy) exclaims, “It is the Lord,” throws himself into the water, and heads to shore. Jesus, after all was the one, who told Peter he was Peter. I can throw myself with wild abandon at Jesus and not lose myself. In fact, it is in, through, and from him that I discover my true self.

And isn’t this the safe place young people need today? They are awash in a sea of social media that hammers them to establish their identity—to nail down profiles. I love the passion for the authenticity I see in young people. But it’s so much more powerful to define ourselves by what we love instead of by what we hate—by who we follow rather than what we flee.

I still get tempted to define myself by what kind of Christian I’m not: greed driven-TV evangelist, anti-intellectual bumpkin, bigoted racist, and on and on. Running from this stuff wearies me. It is so freeing to run to Jesus instead. I’ve surrendered to him as my maker by giving to him all the quirky stuff I keep discovering in me. I know he put it there and knows what to do with it.

All the things that don’t fit anywhere else, fit in Jesus. Ahhh.

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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