Sunday, August 31, 2014

Recognized...

     The definition of the word recognize according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to know and remember (someone or something) because of previous knowledge or experience. Some people are more recognizable than others. They may be more recognizable because we have seen them on television or because we have shared an experience with them before. Some people are recognizable because of their out-going, life of the party personality. Others may be recognizable because they have a distinct voice or accent. It's easy to recognize a soldier by his uniform, just as it is a police officer, a doctor, or a fireman. How do people recognize you? Maybe a better question to ask is how do people identify you?

     We live in a world where identity is often wrapped up in appearance, occupation, and personality. Yet there is a lot more to a person than their appearance, occupation, and personality. After all, who would want to be identified by only one or two traits? Yet we do it all the time when we try to describe one person to another. She's the blonde over there, he's the best doctor in town, she's the strong willed child in the family.  There are things that we don't reveal in the limited descriptions we give to identify others. The blonde is a blonde because she is a hair dresser who likes to experiment with color. The doctor is not only the best doctor in town, he is a devoted husband and father. That strong willed child is also the smartest most driven kid in school. Adding more words to our descriptions gives a more accurate identification and makes the person we are talking about more recognizable. 

     Some of us want to be recognizable. Perhaps it's because we want people to know who we are or we want to feel special. Maybe it's simply that we want to be noticed or feel set a part in some way that distinguishes us from others. There are those of us who prefer to blend in. We are perfectly content hanging out in the back of a room unnoticed and left alone with our thoughts. We don't care to be recognized. We have no desire to be set apart in some way that distinguishes us from others. We are already aware that we are different and that is why we hope to blend in...so that others won't notice. Which one are you? 

     I have been thinking a lot lately about two recognizable men that I read about in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter four Peter and John were thrown in jail by the religious leaders of their day for preaching Christ and proclaiming His resurrection from the dead. The religious leaders threw them in jail and then decided to question them. They asked "By what power, or in what name have you done this?" Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak. In the course of his speech he said that it was by the name of Jesus Christ. This is not what has given me pause for reflection. This is merely Peter identifying himself with Christ. Verse thirteen is what caught me. It reads, "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."

     These religious leaders recognized Peter and John as having been with Jesus. They were the same religious leaders that were around when Jesus walked the earth. They had experienced Jesus for themselves. They were able to recognize Peter and John as having been with Jesus because of their confidence and their speech. Peter and John were no longer untrained and uneducated men, that was their former identity. Spending time with Jesus had changed them so much, that even after He had returned to be with the Father they were recognized as having been with Him.  They had a new identity. They had been identified with Christ.

     This segment of Scripture has me asking myself a few very important questions. Do others recognize Jesus when they spend time with me? Have I spent enough time in His presence that my identity has changed? There have been people in my own life that I have spent time with, who remind me so much of Jesus that I felt as though I was in His presence when I was spending time with them. He was so recognizable in their life that I could identify Him in every aspect. What about you? Do others recognize Jesus when they spend time with you?  Have you spent enough time in His presence that your identity has changed?

     Just as Peter and John were recognized as having been with Jesus, we must be also. We may be the only chance someone gets to experience Jesus. There is nothing else worth being recognized for and this is no time to try and blend in. Our world is breaking. People are hurting. They need Jesus. Will they recognize Him in you? Will they be able to identify you as someone who belongs to Him? Will spending time with you spark a desire in their heart to spend time with Him?

    

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