Lou Ferrigno is famous for his split personality – or rather his ability to portray the role of a split personality. Before Hollywood had motion capture technology and the improved ability to integrate life-like animation to interact with human characters, Lou did it the old-fashioned way, pumping iron and building massive muscles. Lou is the original Incredible Hulk. THIS is his identity. What is yours?
Who you are and who you become is built in many different ways. Your family history, your culture, your experiences and you (your will, your attitude, your actions) all shape your identity. You may like your identity or you may not. It may be an asset or a liability. Some people go through life with a very defined identity while others change either intentionally, hopefully for the better, or through circumstances that may be out of his or her control.
Many circumstances in life can often attempt to steel your identity. Today, more than ever before, time pressures and agendas along with poor diet are steeling the God-given health and physical fitness of people and replacing that identity with obesity and illness. It is a sad state because this theft is preventable. You owe it to yourself to be healthy, to be life to others and to have the identity of wholeness that is intended for you.
Others lose their identity as they try to shape it. It is nearly impossible to not see this happening but much more difficult to prevent it. Today’s culture is driven with physical perfection. The more muscular you are the better you are. Sex appeal, magnetic personality, success and wealth are just a few ways we attempt to define who we are and create our American Dream.
This is an identity theft that is subtle. We can lose our real identity by being given over to ambition.
When that happens we often have little time or concern for others who have lost their identity to some of the worst kinds of theft: cancer, HIV, abuse and so many other conditions that can be a death sentence. People that experience these extreme life challenges will no doubt have their identity shaped. How their identity is shaped will depend in large part on weather they become a survivor or not. Some will find you and a community that can give them unyielding support in many ways. Many others, will lose their identity and spiritually move into a life that looks much like a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They will dwell in a place in their life that is poorly constructed, on the fringe and segregated from hope and practical care. These people are at high risk of losing their identity with God and perishing.
Is the church in America today little more than a favela, a spiritual slum in your city? OR is it a parish – people who have formed a God-designed and powerful community to extend pastoral care to others? What real, transformational life do Christians bring to those who are in jeopardy of losing their identity? Michael Kerlin an international management consultant who has worked in Rio de Janeiro’s underserved communities for more than fifteen years says, “All kinds of churches will best serve their congregations and nearby favelas if they recognize their opportunity to offer much more than religion.” Apply that kind of thinking to churches everywhere. Apply that attitude to your own personal identity. You can make a positive impact in the lives of survivors by building a community that cares. Embrace your God-defined identity of compassion, grace, hope and joy.
Discover the role the church is having in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas then consider the role you can have in your community to be life to others and help them be free.
Physical fitness is an incredible gift given to you by God. It isn’t to be flaunted for prideful admiration. It is to be passionately used to bring life to others. From time to time we all lose our identity – that origin of who we are. You can get it back and overcome the things that try to define you. Don’t be satisfied with just surviving, be the very identity of life.
Train strong in Christ,
-Brad Bloom, Publisher
Brad Bloom is the publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine the premier source of information, ideas and networking for those pursuing an active physical and spiritual life and Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine a new magazine to help you celebrate life outdoors. Recently he’s been meeting some survivors with amazing life stories and preparing to host a Worship Weekend. He and his family live in the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia.