Who am I?

Driving home from school each day, I often find myself lost in thought, ruminating on various ideas or events.

Sometimes, I will play out conversations in my head, so as to better and more appropriately prepare for upcoming scenarios (such as a conference with a student’s concerned parent or a talk with my wife during a period of disagreement).

Other times, however, I will have random points enter my mind and then simply explore these tangents.

Such an occurrence happened the other day, as I was struck by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

At the conclusion of His teachings of the Beatitudes, you might recall how Jesus empowers us to stay true to our convictions despite any and all backlash we might receive from others. (Matthew 5:10-11)

While Jesus spoke these words about 2,000 years ago, it is becoming increasingly difficult to heed them today.

Frankly, in our modern and secular society, it is not altogether easy or popular to stay true to one’s faith. We are constantly bombarded with media messages and public pressures to follow a specific crowd, act a particular way or believe a certain idea or message – all of these often contrary to God’s commandments.

Failure to meet or comply with these social expectations can often lead to isolation, exclusion and rejection.

I suppose the question we must ask ourselves, then, is which path do we follow in our lives – that of God or society around us?

While thinking introspectively in my car on my way home, I couldn’t help but consider this exact point.

Do I overly concern myself with materialism or social status? Do I compare myself too much to others and their clothes, homes, relationships, cars, jobs, travels or other items?

Do I serve social standards or God’s desires for me?

As depressing as this might sound, I occasionally wonder what people would say at my funeral.

Like many others, I would hope they would share compliments about my thoughtful and kindhearted personality, my witty sense of humor, my love for my family and friends, and other common points of praise often spoken about the deceased.

But what would I really want them to say?

Well, I guess I would hope people would identify me without doubt as a man of God.

Sure, being nice to people and making them feel special is important. Sacrificing yourself for others is meaningful. Giving your best effort in everything you do is admirable. But if these practices and traits are not for a greater purpose or being, are they not all in vain?

Indeed, living as a faithful servant to the Lord, serving His will and not being a slave to earthly directions – isn’t this what I am called to be?

Aren’t we all?

Is our legacy supposed to be wealth passed to our next generation, or buildings named in our honor? Am I to attain a particular salary or social echelon prior to my death or a have a passport filled with country stamps?

Regardless of accomplishment, I believe our legacy is to be a shining example of God’s wonder and awesome love and presence for others to know and apply to their lives.

So, then, what do I want my legacy to be?

Well, while I have no intention of passing on anytime soon, what I want is for my wife and me to enjoy a happy, healthy and holy marriage until death.

I want for us to raise our children into faith-led adults that look to us as their earthly heroes and that make our world a better place by their example.

I want my students to know they are capable of more, always discovering their fullest God-given potential while being pleased with their efforts and achievements.

I want my friends and strangers alike to remember me by how they felt around me, feeling better about themselves after our time together.

In essence, I want to have lived as salt of the earth and light for the world. (Matthew 5:13-16) I want to have realized God’s work on earth, fulfilling His teachings and making Him proud.

Now, none of this is easy, of course. Living in accordance with God’s Holy Word is no small order and often requires going against the grain, culturally speaking. I know I fail at this challenge often in my life.

But despite our many flaws and failures, let us resolve to remain motivated to pursue a greater good and live our Heavenly calling.

Jesus tells us our reward for our loyalty to Him awaits us and will be more than we could ever imagine. Staying true to His Word and living His example will yield a prize and salvation that will put any earthly winnings to shame. (Matthew 5:12)

In the end, isn’t that what matters the most?

So, the next time you’re driving home and are lost in random thought, perhaps you’ll be reminded of Jesus’ Beatitudes and how we are called to live as God’s blessed children.

While it surely would be random, such a point would most certainly be worth it.

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About the author

Matt Charbonneau is a high school Religious Education teacher based in Ottawa who inspires his students to explore a deeper relationship with God. Applying uplifting lessons, engaging activities, and insightful experiences, he strives to demonstrate the powerful presence and unconditional love of God in everyday life.