previous entry :: next entry

how faith is different from identity

One time I was invited to a baby shower with all my old jewish friends, and I totally went there with this big gold cross hanging from my neck. Like some kind of wanabee rapper. But, you know, offensive.

It was the year that I was finally SAVED and I wanted everyone to know. I was a different person now. Not plagued by self-consciousness. Or doubt. Or the oppressive weight of my own jerkiness.

As if someone could express such a thing via necklace. Indeed, my actions probably contradicted my own theology. An instant internal makeover, one in which I became a sane, lovely, considerate person, was a tall order. Even for Jesus.

At the time I was very concerned with IDENTITY. A decade in, I'm more interested in FAITH.

There is some controversy in the news right now, or so I gather from Facebook, about the seasonal color of Starbucks cups. On the one hand, I can see how this irks people. A white and green cup is annoying enough, in the way it communicates, "Look at me! I can afford a five dollar coffee!" But a RED cup? Visible from a block away? It practically screams, "LOOK AT ME!!! I can afford a FIVE DOLLAR COFFEE!" And also, "My christmas is gonna be OFF THE HOOK, you guys! I'm buying my children mother fucking SKIS!!!!!"

So yeah, Starbucks. For the rest of us who take our caffeine at home, this was a little bit of a jerk move.

Some folks, though, seem to take umbrage with the red cups, not for the conspicuous consumption but for reasons of identity.

"My Christmas" means something different from "your Christmas," they say, and it's very very important that you understand that.

Know me. Understand me. This is an argument about identity. And look, I don't want to get down on identity. Identity is important. If you feel like you're one thing and other people say that you're not? That can be downright oppressive. Please please please, if you feel you're not adequately representing your true identity, do whatever it takes, buy whatever you need to buy, until you feel like a real punker / hippy / hipster / Christian. Solve the identity problem so you move onto other things.

Like faith.

Because as much as identity says, "I've got this Christian thing SOLVED!" long term faith stirs the realization, "I have absolutely nothing solved."

Ten years into following Jesus I am still a self-conscious, doubting jerk. I've been confessing my sin for over a decade and I still haven't reached the bottom of the great well of my wrong-headedness. I thought I knew a lot about Jesus when I broadcast my new allegiance through jewelry. The more I follow him, the less I know. Like how can he possibly stay interested in me? Day after day, with all my bad choices? Why did he extend his interest in the first place? When he know what a shitty person I was to begin with?

Know me. Understand me. This is actually the business Jesus is in. Once we can get past the identity thing.

I like Starbucks coffee. I wish I could afford it more. According to some infographic I saw on Facebook, it's very high in caffeine.

But I worry that all the choices Starbucks offers us, even the choice to be mad or bemused at a certain colored cup, these choices stoke the fires of our own personal posturing. How does this coffee fit into my IDENTITY? Am I a tall? A grande? a venti? What does that say about my discipline / income / work ethic? What does this say about my Christianity?

You guys, I invite you this not-yet-holiday season to take a multi-colored view of faith. Where all of us look like posers in one way or another. And that's okay. For some reason Jesus doesn't care.

leah with coffee

reusable red cup, cracked just like me.

previous entry :: next entry