Epic Theology

Finding God through the lens of an artist



Building a Rock Solid Identity in Five Steps

I hope you all had an excellent weekend! For my Canadian friends and family, you should either just be recovering from the feasts of the weekend, or succumbing to the final food coma before the long weekend is over. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.

I’ve talked before about the importance of identity and the role it plays in our journey toward God. Today,I want to talk about building an identity marker for yourself. This is especially important for artists, who often can get lost in their craft, sacrificing everything for the betterment of their work. Even those who are not in the arts can feel the opposing pull that can come from our duties as parents, workers, and members of faith. If we are able to build a hierarchy of identity, perhaps we can keep our bearings through this crazy, hectic, and stressful world.

To accomplish this, we need to follow 5 steps. They won’t always be easy or simple, and may take a lot of time for reflection, but I think it will be worth it in the end. For this article, I will use myself as an example, in case anyone gets lost.


Step 1: Find What You Worship

This is your centre. The central driving force behind your entire being. It isn’t what you like, or are passionate about, or even love. This is your all. Without this, you would cease to be who you are. You might be a comparable copy, but not the real you. You think about this when you get up, and before you go to sleep.

For me, I worship Jesus Christ. My entire life is based around my relationship with the Son of God. He affects how and where I work, how I treat my wife, what movies I watch, what games I play, and what books I read. He is the reason I write this blog and go to school and make art. I could lose everything else in my life, but as long as I had my faith in God, I would still be me. I will never lose that.

Step 2. Find Your Greatest Relationship

We were created for community. Even introverts that I know (myself included) admit that being around people is good. We need friends, family, and coworkers to lift us up when we are hurting and to kick us in the pants when we’re getting a little too big for our britches. Even deeper, we need someone who knows us in light of what we worship, and hopefully worships the same thing. This person is your companion through life, no matter where you will be. You trust this person with everything you have, from your life to the five bucks he or she has borrowed. In this life, they are your partner.

It may not come as a  surprise, but in my life, this is my wife. She is my best friend, my confident, my partner and companion. We do everything together, and she knows everything about me. My joys and my fears. My greatest accomplishments and most shameful regrets. She is loyal and loving and with me until the end. I am called to be her husband and love her until our dying days.

Step 3. Find Your Legacy

What will you leave behind when you are gone? What will remain of your time on earth after you have stopped living on it? For some, this may be dictated by your beliefs, chosen by your passions, or shaped by your career. We all are aware that our lives will some day come to an end, and figuring out how you will leave this planet is an important question that we must all wrestle with.

With the imminent birth of my son, I know that he (and any other children God blesses us with) will be my legacy. I must take my calling as father very seriously if I want my life to be of lasting impact. They will be free to make their own decisions in life, I have no desire to create clones of myself, but I want to leave a legacy of God-loving, passionate, and kind people. I will pour my efforts into raising a responsible, fun-loving, and caring generation.

Step 4. Find Your Calling

We are all gifted in some way. Some are gifted in far more ways than others, but we all have something that we are naturally good at. What we do with these gifts is of vital importance and will probably reflect your answer to step 1. If you are gifted at making money and worship security, you may end up running a large corporation and hoarding your wealth. If you are excellent at photography and worship yourself, I bet you take some stunning self portraits. The important thing at this step is to find what you are good at and figuring out how you will use those gifts in light of what you worship.

I am an artist. I act, dance, sing, write, and direct. I take photographs and choreograph dances. I paint and colour. I knew all of these even before I decided what I would worship. Yet, as I have grown in my faith, I have understood that these talents and skills are from God and should be used for God. Now, I aim to be one of God’s artists in the world, showing His beauty, His Grace, and His story to a society that desperately needs it. It is my calling.

Step 5. Find Your Passion

Steps 4 and 5 may seem similar, but there are differences. In addition to talents, we all have causes that we uphold. Social justice for the poor. Ethical treatment of animals. Liberation for enslaved peoples. Our hearts break for certain causes more than others. We are not blind to the suffering of other groups, or the need for change, but our passion lies in helping this particular cause. This is not a bad thing, for no single mortal person can take on every injustice in the world. That is why we each have our own passions. Finding ours can help give specific direction to our callings.

My heart lies in helping guide the spiritually hungry in my community. This is why I want to be a pastor, especially a pastor for artists. I want to show them hope and help and freedom from the troubles that plague us here in the West. I know that there are starving children around the world, and my wife and I help where we can, but my focus is on the spiritually poor here in my city.

When you have meditated, wrestled with, and found answers to these questions, you should be able to build a hierarchy of identity. For me, it looks like this:


If I am ever in a situation where my duties to two or more of these identity markers are in conflict, I just look to the list. The one closest to the top wins out. Some may disagree with the placement that I have, and I would love to talk about it. My list is based on my study of biblical principles, so you may have a different order, even with the same five categories. That’s alright. If it works for you, then you’ve accomplished this task.

What did you come up with? What five words would you give to describe your identity to someone who has never met you? I’d be very interested to see what other people came up with!


Seeking Identity, Finding God

“Why am I here?”

The idea of purpose haunts many people, myself included from time to time.  We have been sold the idea that our purpose on this planet is to consume goods to make ourselves happy and further our economies, but many are finding this purpose to be shallow and unsatisfying.  Generations are embarking on a spiritual journey to find a better purpose. But perhaps we are missing a more basic question: “Who am I?”

Identity and purpose are intimately linked. Runners run. Poets write poetry. Bankers handle money. When we label ourselves with an identity, we are able to move forward with a purpose.  To many, the search for identity is like shopping for clothes: we try on a number of labels until we find one that we like. We become writers until we realize that we don’t like writing.  We become outdoor enthusiasts until our allergies force us indoors. The pattern continues until we find a passion that sticks, and we keep that label. And we pray that we don’t get bored. Yet, maybe there is another, more full sense of identity that goes beyond our daily activities, one that digs deeper than what we do.

For those on a faith journey, there is another question that must be addressed as we try to figure out who we are: “Who is God?” Who is this entity that created me? This question is impossible to answer in full, and difficult to answer at all. Most religions agree that “God” is either infinite, or so beyond our comprehension that it is impossible for us to understand Him in His completeness. The finite trying to capture the infinite seems like an exercise in futility, but is perhaps the most important endeavor we can undertake.

For my own journey, the questions of “Who am I?” and “Who is God?” have been inseparable since the start. The more I understood about God, by studying Scripture and speaking with others on a similar journey, the more I learned about who I am. In turn, the more I understood about who I was, my own strengths and weaknesses, lead to a greater understanding of who God is. The quest for my identity and that of my God are two sides of the same coin.

I wonder, is the big idea of this world to seek self-actualization, the answer to “Who am I?” or is it to understand the infinite, “Who is God?” Perhaps it is both. Perhaps it is impossible to answer one without addressing the other. If our destiny, purpose, and identity are tied in with our deity, then maybe we need to spend our entire lives reexamining our answers to these two questions. Perhaps.

Yet this is not always easy, and there are pitfalls we tend to fall into. The easiest trap is to create a God in our own image. Genesis tells us that God created humanity in His image, but many of us have turned that around.  We create a God that fits in with what we know about ourselves and the our understanding of the world. Artists can read through the Bible and see that God is an artist. PETA activists can look at God’s work in nature and know that God is an animal-rights activist. Administrators can see, throughout history, that God is the ultimate CEO of creation. All of these can be true, but they fall terribly short of who God is. God is love, but God is also wrathful. Too few wrestle with the apparent contradictions in God’s character, leaving themselves with a half-understood deity that does not hold against pressure from other seekers.

Another terrifying question that may confront us as we honestly seek our identity is “What if I’m not the hero?” What if it’s not all about me? This was the hardest part of my journey. I could understand my sin, the brokenness of the world, and the goodness of God. But I could not accept that I was not the hero of my story; that I could not pull myself out of the hole of my self-inflicted pain to become righteous. I could work harder to become a better person, but without divine help, I could not earn my salvation. This is the unique message of Christianity. Though the ethics and morality of many religions are similar, if not the same, Christianity alone teaches that Jesus Christ is the hero of the story. He paid the price for my sin, and nothing I can do can add to that. Its humbling, to say the least.

What about you? Are you the hero of your story? Have you delved into the heart of who you are and why you’re here? Perhaps it is time to look into your life and see if there is something more than you currently life for. For me, I found Christ, a God-man that is the centre of my identity and purpose.  What is yours?


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