Have you ever had an identity crisis? A few days ago at a football practice, I was answering a question that I have answered hundreds of times before: “So, what do you do for a living?” I answered, “I develop small-group discipleship materials for a Christian publishing company” and we went on in the discussion to other topics, mostly about our children. After some time to reflect, I am realizing that this conversation has occurred numerous times and I’m never quite comfortable giving the little word or phrase that people expect to hear. Should I have just said, “I’m an editor” or “I’m a preacher” or “I’m a former missionary” or something altogether different? I must admit that I identify with some of those titles more than others, in ways that bring me varying amounts of comfort. But should I really be comfortable packaging myself so neatly with any of them… and why does this seem to matter so much to men anyway? A lot more questions where those came from!
While working in East Asia, I always tried to answer that question in a way that would lead to a spiritual conversation. After all, saying “missionary” or even “Christian” wouldn’t help to define me very well, especially among the Muslims who lived around us. Often I would simply say, “I am a follower of Asa (Jesus), how about you?” This answer usually baffled the listener to some degree so he would ask, “Why are you here?” This led to some wonderful conversations about God, Who He is, and how much He cared about the neighbor to whom I was speaking. So why don’t I answer questions about my profession or identity just as creatively here?
Perhaps it’s because I’m still struggling with a bit of an identity crisis… like the guy above. Perhaps it’s because I don’t understand the culture that I grew up with or the people around me in my native country as well as I did those who were a world away. If I’m going to be used by God to accomplish His purpose in the lives of those around me, though, I need to get a handle on the most important aspect of my identity:
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20
Pray for me as I continue this journey, and I’d love to hear some ways that you guys use conversation starters to act as ambassadors for Christ.