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Settling Identity Crisis

One of the easiest ways to generate discussion in a Sunday school class is to introduce a character from movies or television. Characters—real or fictional—help us talk not only about issues and ideas but also about ourselves in comfortable and non-threatening ways.

One of the easiest ways to generate discussion in a Sunday school class is to introduce a character from movies or television. Characters—real or fictional—help us talk not only about issues and ideas but also about ourselves in comfortable and non-threatening ways.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
A quite natural progression then allows us to connect characters and issues to biblical truths and how we can apply them.
Big and small screens alike regularly introduce us to characters facing questions and dilemmas common to us all. A timeless and prevalent cinematic theme is the search for personal identity.
From the silliest to the most serious, several recent movies feature themes related to identity, what a person believes, what really matters in life and how personal identity affects or influences behavior. Consider these titles, with links to reviews on EthicsDaily.com: 
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Bend It Like Beckham
Whale Rider
Secondhand Lions
Bonhoeffer
Luther
“Many who search for identity make the mistake of believing the world revolves around them,” notes EthicsDaily.com columnist <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Michael Helms. They generally stick with a philosophy, a job, a relationship, even a church, he says, as long as it meets their needs. When it no longer does, they go again in search of identity down any number of other avenues.
“As each of these fails to live up to their promises, a confusing life cycle develops,” Helms warns. “People move aimlessly from one dead end to another desperately searching for meaning in life. When people discover that identity isn’t found from within but is found in something larger than themselves, the end of this crisis is in sight” (see “Moving Through an Identity Crisis“).
Use one or more of the above films, or another of your choosing, to engage your class in meaningful discussion about the issues of identity, beliefs, priorities and behaviors.
Martin Luther, for example, “saw much of his identity wrapped up in his own baptism,” Helms reminds us. “When depressed or when feelings of anguish prowled around him, he would recall, in Latin, the words ‘Baptizatus sum‘ (I have been baptized). These words reminded him of who he was and to whom he belonged.”
Lead your class to recall the lesson from Matthew 3:13-17, which focused on Jesus’ baptism. Remind your class that Jesus’ baptism sealed his identity as God’s Son. The events immediately following—Jesus’ temptations—were attacks upon his identity and his determination to do God’s will.
Faced with temptations at several levels, Jesus’ awareness of his identity steeled and strengthened him to do the will of God.
When we are tempted to take matters into our own hands and not wait for God’s provision; when we are tempted to test God’s faithfulness to fulfill promises; when we are tempted to place another god before God, our identity as people of God can strengthen us too.
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.

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