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The Noble Call: Action and Identity



There are two wolves fighting inside everyone. Which wolf wins? The one that you feed. This is an old, old legend, that I've been told is of Native American origin. There's another one, of Greek origin, that says that each person is said to be in a chariot, a chariot drawn by two horses, light and dark. The light horse lifts a person up to what is good, noble, pure, and true; it represents his good desires. The other, dark horse acts to prevent this ascent and pull a man back down to the earth; it represents his evil desires.


At every moment of our lives, to some degree we are either strengthening our good character or submitting to our inner darkness. At this point, however, I must insist that I am not by any means a victim of my evil half. It is in fact a significant part of myself. Whenever I use the words "me" or "I", it is inherent. Indeed, it is myself. It what is sometimes spoken of in the Bible as,  the "Old Man", contrasted with the "New Man".


"But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:20-24


So, how exactly do we feed these two entities that we find inside ourselves? What is the sustenance that gives strength to one or the other? I think the answer is twofold: identity and action. It is a hard thing: my immediate desire to is to live a life full of action. Noble, powerful action that bring freedom to myself and those that I love. But until I resolve the deeper question of who I am, that is my identity, I will not act that way.


People answer this question in a multitude of different ways. For example, some answer it by striving for success in their careers. Their identity is in their work and in their heart they say things such as, "I am the one who can do it all.", or "I am the one who sustains this place." Now, to be sure, there is good in each of those identities, but they are relatively shallow and fragile places on which to build. The independence in each one of those is inherently susceptible to the inevitable upsets of life. It may take days or decades, but each one of those is prone to destruction, and is even more certainly and frequently subject to doubt and despair.


Because deep down, in our hearts, I am a child estranged from my father. An orphan. Without home, or family, or purpose in this world. A stranger in a strange land.


"Jesus said to her, “Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”" The Gospel of John, 20:17


It is the work of many lifetimes to know the riches and the fullness that are latent in this quote, but the point I want to make is this: my identity is drawn from my Father, my spiritual Father. Yes, God in heaven. What could sound more corny than that? Or more blasphemous?


Or wonderful? To be intimately known and loved by my Creator, who designed me and gave me purpose, who rescued me from my sin: from my dark wolf and my dark horse. Who gave me family and freedom? Who the hell wouldn't want to be loyal to that, to have faith in that?


The work of Jesus Christ healed the breach between God and Man. His death was the death of our death and his life is the life of our life.


I guess I haven't really dealt with the second fold of my twofold question, but I have dealt with the half that must be answered first. Because without that first answer, the second one doesn't really matter. What you do signifies nothing outside the context of who you are.



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