“Being me” has meant learning to discern what is of God and what is of man, then choosing what is of God. That is the only way I feel true to myself. Choosing the opposite has caused me inner conflict, whether I was aware of the source of the conflict or not. A part of this process has meant wrestling with the “fear of man” versus the “fear of God,” seeking God’s grace to empower me to overcome the idolatry of fearing man. Isaiah gives a scriptural pattern of individuals among God’s people who fear God, whom he makes privy to his saving truth while the main body that fears man is swept away by tragic endtime events.
“Being me” has meant learning to discern what is of God and what is of man, then choosing what is of God.
Isaiah gives a second such pattern—which at some point God asks his people to follow—when God calls Abraham to leave house, kindreds, and friends in Babylonia and go into the wilderness. He states that Abraham “was but one when I called him, but I blessed him by making him many” (Isaiah 51:2). While Abraham’s and Sarah’s receiving a Promised Land and an innumerable posterity stemmed from this formidable personal choice, it surely came easier after he had passed lesser divine tests. No wonder Isaiah describes God’s millennial people as made up of individuals who choose God when the main body chooses man!
This personal or internal challenge pertains to the external practices of the religion I espouse. If I can’t look past its human aspects to the divine truths that it upholds, or if I get caught up in its ecclesiastical routines and assume they are the religion itself, I could surely lose a part of “being me.” In the case of many who are leaving the church, for example—who are “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”—we might see attempts to reclaim their individual identity by breaking free from what is human and external. Because religion isn’t the same as spirituality, distinguishing one from the other could prevent a lot of grief.
These kinds of challenges have required me to see the hand of God even in things that were very evidently the hand of man but that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time. Negotiating the paradoxes life presents, which our Maker orchestrates for our good, forms a key part of our journey. If “being me” or “being you” doesn’t involve our baring our souls before him, offering our all on his altar as we choose the fear of God above the fear of man, how can we possibly come to know him who himself “feared no man”? Indeed, I am most myself when my feet are planted firmly on the Rock of my salvation and he abides in me and I in him.