Who are you? What do you call yourself? What is your identity? Who do you say you are when you introduce yourself? Is it based upon your job? Your orientation? Your family name? Your hobby? Your genes? Your past mistakes? Your situation?
So often our identity is based on something we have done or has been done to us–from past mistakes to genetics. We let it define us.
A little while back I came across a manga and anime called Blue Exorcist Kazue Kato. It is about twin orphan brothers, Yuki and Rin, raised in a monastery by their adoptive father, a priest Father Shiro Fujimoto. Yuki is studios, soft spoken, kind, and wanting to please. Rin is rough and tumble, a drop out of school, always getting into scrapes, and at the same time has the endearing quality to fight (literally) against injustice and for the weak. This set up itself is for a good story line. But the layer behind it is that Father Fujimoto is the highest ranking exorcist in the Catholic church, Yuki is a prodigy exorcist holding multiple titles as an exorcist and has a high rank himself. Oh, and Rin? He’s the son of Satan and has his demonic powers displayed when he unsheathes his demon slaying sword named Kurikara. The manga and anime is a very interesting synchronicity (a religious mash-up) of Catholicism and Shintoism. It combines the two into a very interesting dichotomy of the spiritual world and the physical world.
(*warning some spoilers ahead*)
In the wake of Father Fujimoto’s death defending Rin, Rin vows to become an exorcist to avenge the death of the only father figure he’s ever had. Rin and Yuki enroll in the prestigious boarding school True Cross Academy whose headmaster is Johannes Faust II. In truth, True Cross Academy itself is a front to train and act as headquarters for the Japanese branch of exorcists of the Catholic church. Faust himself is actually the demon Mephistopheles who has been headmaster for the last 300 years after changing sides from fighting for Satan to the Catholic church. The school itself is there to teach and train exorcists how to defend the physical world against the demons of the spiritual world. It is here that Rin trains to be an exorcist. His goal: Defeat Satan. People vie to control Rin. The Catholic church itself wants him dead. Some of the exorcist teachers want to control him for their own purposes. Other teachers themselves want to kill him. Others don’t trust him.
Rin is the spawn of Satan. He has demonic powers. His very genetic makeup should mark him as evil. But even after the revelation that he is the son of Satan and that he has demonic powers doesn’t stop him for wanting to be an exorcist. In fact, his goal is the same as it was before he found out about his powers–protect the weak and fight against injustice. He doesn’t let his past mistakes control him or be his identity. He doesn’t allow his lineage determine who he is. His identity is in who he has decided it to be, and no one else has a say in it.
You are more.
I’m ADD. I make jokes about it all the time. I even wrote an Adult ADD prayer which pretty much sums up what it means to have ADD in a fun way. But my ADD doesn’t define me. It’s part of who I am. I own it, it doesn’t own me. I am more than my ADD.
And my past mistakes, boy have I made a few, I’ve made a lot. And my family. I love them (and I know they read this blog…sometimes) but even they don’t define me (years of counseling has helped me with that). It is part of my story, part of who I am, but not my identity.
My identity is not in any of this. My identity is in Jesus. I belong to Him.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?…for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1
“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saves us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ Our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
Each of these verses above are so rich. Each one points to the fact that in Jesus, we are not what we once were. We belong to God through Jesus. In Jesus we live and move and have our being. In Jesus we have the author and perfector of our faith. In Jesus we have life, true life, real life, eternal life.
What I like about Rin, what endears me to him, is that he is willing to forge his own identity. He won’t let what others think of him hold him back. He will not allow his lineage to hold him back. He will not let it define him.
Don’t let your past define you. Don’t let your genetics define you. Let your identity be in Jesus. Live to be like Jesus, and in doing so, live new life, a new identity which lets you be more than what you are and part of something bigger than you might ever dream.