Every day at work you will know that there is a pressure upon you to be something and someone. Forces come at you which try to shape you into the kind of person that these forces desire.
If you are the boss, your reports will want you to be a certain type of boss that suits them. If you are a report, your boss will want you in a particular format.
Even the language we use connects with this thinking. The phrases, “shape up”, or “perform well”, or “play your role” reveal an environment which demands you fit requirements.
This is not always sinister, it can be a natural part of succeeding in the job you have chosen to do. Where it becomes toxic is if the shaping pressure threatens to bend you out of shape, twist your character or compromise your values. When this pressure to conform is seeking to make you what you are not, trouble is not far behind.
In stress research we call this “person-environment fit”. If it’s a good fit between who you are what you do you will perform well, if not pain arrives.
For his entire public life, the Son of Man was under pressure to be what others wanted him to be. They wanted a healer, they wanted a rebel against Rome, they wanted him to fit their rules and regulations, they wanted him to destroy enemies, judge disputes, enter politics and make them happy.
He simply would not. There’s one crucial reason for this. His internal “I Am”. The Son of Man’s identity came from his deep and profound understanding of the words we have been looking at for months “I Am”. He was telling them (and you) who he is, what he would and would not do, not the other way around.
So at his last meal when he is predicting, of all things, his betrayal he says, I am who I claim to be or, I am who I am.
It is as his work reaches its most intense, when his work and his death merge into one, that he holds firmly to his identity. Betrayal, denial, conspiracy, torture and death are not strong enough to bend him out of shape or deflect him from his calling.
During his last eighteen hours he would meet a high priest, a king and a governor who all allowed themselves to be bent so far out of shape that they did not deserve their job titles. His own friends would bend and break but he would not change. “I am who I am”, “I am who I claim to be” were on his lips and he stayed true to that until his last breath.
So the tougher it gets for you perhaps the greater the temptation to be shaped by external pressures but Christ within you will give you the strength to stay in shape.
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
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