"So, yeah, I teach at the Christian school over on…. and I got my undergrad and grad degree at CIU…. good to meet you…."
I took our daughter to ice skating lessons yesterday – that wonderful time of the week, as it’s getting warmer and more humid outside, that I get to sit next to the ice rink and really literally chill for a few hours. I’m finishing up Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, so I took it with me and got to the most phenomenal chapter on sin.
Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from Him…. Most people think of sin primarily as "breaking divine rules", but Kierkegaard knows that the very first of the Ten Commandments is to "have no other gods before Me". So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. (p. 162)
If anything threatens your identity you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear. If you lose your identity through the failings of someone else you will not just be resentful, but locked into bitterness. If you lose it through your own failings, you will hate and despise yourself as a failure as long as you live. Only if your identity is built on God and His love, says Kierkegaard, can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything. (p. 165)
The real culture war is taking place inside out own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them. (p. 169)
At some point in most lives, we are confronted with the fact that we are not the persons we know we should be. Almost always our response is to "turn over a new leaf" and try harder to live according to our principles. That ultimately will lead us into a spiritual dead end. (pp. 170-171)
After I’d read the chapter and went ahead a few more pages before putting the book down and just letting some of that settle in, I picked up our things to go wait by the door to the ice. Some of my identity, after all, is waiting for our kids, holding their stuff. But it’s only some of my identity, and I began the process of self-check to see where else I place my identity – when one of the guys waiting for hockey practice asked what I was reading. My book was under the crook of my arm, next to the pink leopard skin skate bag. We talked a minute. He hadn’t heard of the book, so I told him it was an apologetic that wasn’t defensive, wasn’t a text book. He said he taught at a Christian school, had graduated and then grad-studented at a Christian college, and that those books were thick and hard to read, the text book apologetic ones that we apparently both avoid. He left to go skate, not waiting for the awkward pauses to settle in, and I thought about where he might put his identity. But I quickly returned to my self-check, because I couldn’t "feel superior" for just having this book without also having his agility on the ice.