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Miranda Writes: Who You Are and Whose You Are




by Omar Miranda



Here’s a question we received at Insight, and my response:

I just went through my freshman year in high school. I spent most of the year alone while everyone else had friends. Of course, everyone knew me because it was a small school. People would tell me just to be myself, but they would also try to be like everyone else. Some even said that I was sheltered or brainwashed by my parents and just needed some freedom. This often had me thinking again and again and caused me to question my identity as a Christian. This also caused me to question my relationship with my parents. How do I cope with this?--In the Middle, 14, Alabama

Dear “In the Middle,”

I’m glad you wrote. It’s important to let other people know what’s going on with you.

Before I address your concern, I want to be sure that I fully understand what your concerns are:

1. You’re concerned because people are acting like hypocrites—telling you to be individualistic but then acting like everybody else.

2. Your friends are telling you you’re “sheltered” and/or “brainwashed” by your parents.

3. You’re questioning your identity as a Christian.

4. You’re questioning your relationship with your parents.

Each one of these questions is very important, but I would say to you in a nutshell: There’s nothing wrong with you! I absolutely agree with what you’ve said—it seems that the people who are telling you just to be yourself but then are acting like everybody else are wrong! You have not been sheltered or brainwashed by your parents. It sounds to me that your parents have been trying to protect you from the harsh realities of life and much of the ugliness and dangers of this world—and that’s a parent’s job!

You’ve got to remember that when you are choosing God over sin and the world, many people, even your so-called friends, will get upset with you, pressure you to sin as well, and make fun of you—sometimes even bully you—for making this choice. In the New Testament book of Romans the apostle Paul spoke about evil people who denied the power and position of God and “gave up the truth about God for a lie” (1:25, CEV).* Later in that chapter Paul writes this: “Since these [wicked and godless] people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That’s why they do all sorts of indecent things. They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip, say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil. These people don’t respect their parents. They are stupid, unreliable, and don’t have any love or pity for others. They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them” (verses 28-32). Did you catch that? Paul said that these types of people aren’t kind or caring—they are selfish, mean, gossip, and all they want to do is do evil, and they even encourage others to do the same evil and godless things! That sounds a lot like the stuff you’ve been going through.

So the question still remains: How do you deal with it? Well, the first thing you have to understand is who you are. But you can’t do that until you answer the question of whose you are. Well, that’s a question that we all have to know the answer to. That’s one of those really-important, kind-of-have-to-know-the answer-before-I-die questions. Well, whose are you? The answer is simple: You’re a child of the King! You’re God’s child! Check out what Paul wrote in Ephesians 1. Read it in your favorite version and come on back so we can talk.
Read it?

Good.

Did you notice that Paul about seven times says something like “You’ve been chosen by God in Christ Jesus”? We are God’s adopted children through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross! You and I and all Christians, aka the church, are Christ’s body, and we are filled with Him!

Now, understand this: Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that things will be easy for you. In fact, teens fall in love with Jesus, commit their lives to Him, get baptized . . . and then it seems that a lot of really bad stuff starts happening in their lives. And they can’t figure out what’s gone wrong. Sometimes they wonder if they’ve done something wrong or if they don’t have enough faith or if God is testing them. Sometimes teens just outright stop being Christians. They figure, “This is not worth the struggle and the pain.” But as the Bible says—or maybe it’s Chuck Norris—“No pain, no gain!” In my short but interesting life I’ve found this to be true: The closer you are to Christ, generally the more difficult your life will be!

Does it sound to you like Christians are going to have it easy in this life? No, it doesn’t. I’ve had teens tell me that they felt disillusioned because nobody told them before that once they became Christians things would become more difficult for them. Now, don’t get me wrong. Not all Christians will have physical persecution—but they will have some sort of persecution. The bottom line is this: If you choose Christ, you’ll catch flak.  But you’ll also have peace.

So that’s it? If you’re a Christian you’re going to have problems? Well, yes! Don’t get upset with me; I didn’t say it. Jesus did. Let’s take a look at Christ’s words in John 15:18-21: “If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated me first. If you belonged to the world, its people would love you. But you don’t belong to the world. I have chosen you to leave the world behind, and that is why its people hate you. Remember how I told you that servants are not greater than their master. So if people mistreat me, they will mistreat you. If they do what I say, they will do what you say. People will do to you exactly what they did to me. They will do it because you belong to me, and they don’t know the one who sent me.”

Before you were a Christian, you were going with the flow. You were doing what the world was doing, talking like the world, dressing like the world, acting like the world. But now as a Christian, what God expects of you and me is totally against the world. We, as Christians, are swimming against the current. Have you ever seen salmon swimming upstream? Is it easy? Of course not! I have a DVD series called Planet Earth. In one episode salmon were filmed swimming upstream . . . up a waterfall. They were not only going against the current, but going up a sheer cliff on a mountain—against gravity! And they got it done. How? Persistence and perseverance.

I know that this is a difficult time for you, but you can get it done as well with the power of the Holy Spirit, by staying close to Jesus by daily praying and reading/studying your Bible, and by hanging out with the right types of friends—even if it means that you have to be a loner. 

When it comes to your relationship with your parents, the bottom line is this: When you honor and obey your parents, you’re honoring and obeying God as well. What do I mean by honoring? Well, it’s not enough to do what your parents tell you to do (obedience); you’ve got to do it with a right heart attitude. I’m not saying that you’ve got to want to be 100 percent on board, but you shouldn’t be disrespectful and rude to them—and you certainly shouldn’t be cursing them or wishing them harm or actually physically or emotionally abusing them. Paul also wrote this to the Ephesians: “Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, ‘Obey your father and your mother, and you will have a long and happy life’” (6:1, 2). Isn’t that interesting that God says that the result of honoring and obeying your parents is both a long and a happy life. God gave your parents to lead and guide and direct you to help you to grow up to be a happy and successful adult. Of course, that doesn’t mean that just because your parents are grown that they’re off the hook any more than you are. Ephesians 6:4 says: “Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.”

As Christians, we’ve all got specific jobs to do to help us all get through this life with a minimum of bumps along the way, and when we honor and obey one another—brothers and sisters included—we all go a long way to living a happier, healthier, and longer life and showing the world that life as a Christian really works. And in the end, the world will only notice something that is different from what they are, so go ahead and be different! As the old hymn says, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus!” I promise you, Jesus will be right there standing beside you all the way to heaven. He’s faithful and He won’t ever let you down.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes. 





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