REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST
Our minds are funny things, especially our memories. Sometimes we remember things we would rather forget, but more often we forget things we wish we would remember. Our brains filter so much information during a day that sometimes we just lose things when we wish we wouldn’t. Most of the time our lapses in memory are pretty minor; we can’t remember where we put our car keys or our eyeglasses, where we parked, or where one of our shoes walked off to. Sometimes what we forget can be a big deal, though, whether it’s someone’s name or an anniversary or an appointment. At the extreme end of memory loss are those who can forget everything about themselves.
For example, in 1997 a woman named Jane Dee Williams, who was married and had four kids under the age of six, was found living in the city of Sitka, AL. The reason people had been looking for her was because she was really Jody Roberts, a former reporter for the News Tribune in Tacoma, WA. Her family had been looking for her for twelve years and by that time had assumed that she was dead. When it was discovered that she was still alive, Williams explained to the authorities that she had absolutely no memory of anything that happened in her life before May of 1985 when she was found wandering in an Aurora, Colo., mall, with a green coat, a key to a Toyota, a copy of the book Watership Down, two green pens, a notebook, and no clue who she was.
After being found, Williams was taken to the local police station and then sent to the Colorado Mental Health Institute. There she was diagnosed with a rare kind of amnesia called psychogenic fugue, a disorder characterized by a complete loss of identity. When a person is in a fugue state they forget everything about themselves: all of their memories, personality, and every other individual identifying characteristic. This is typically short-lived but can last for years or even a lifetime, as in this case. Williams was no threat to anyone, so she was let go and went and started a new life, including getting married and having kids. When she was found many people accused her of faking her lost memory, but both she and her doctors insisted that extreme stress in her life led her brain to shut down, leading to her fugue state. Even when confronted with the proof of her former life, Williams acknowledged that it must have been her, but could never remember anything to fill in the blanks.
SPIRITUAL FUGUE STATE
It is very unlikely that any of us will ever suffer this kind of memory loss in general, but on the other hand, it is very likely that as Christians all of us at one time or another will suffer a kind of fugue state when it comes to our identities in Jesus Christ. We forget who we belong to (2 Tim 2:19), that we were bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20), how we are called to live (Rom 8:12–14), to love (1 John 4:7–9), to treat others (Phil 2:1–4), to forsake sin (Rom 6:1–8), to give (2 Cor 8:7–9), to serve (2 Cor 3:5–6), to gather (Heb 10:24–25), to bless (Rom 12:14–15), to worship (Rom 12:1–2), and to forgive (Luke 17:4).
Whether it is extreme stress, continued involvement in sin, prolonged spiritual apathy, or even just a gradual loss of time with God that we don’t even notice at first, we are prone to forget who we are in Christ. Sometimes this is short-lived, but sometimes that can go on for months or even years. Which is why we need to be constantly and continually reminded who God is and what he has done for us in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). When God saves you, he completely forgives you of your sin. He transforms you, gives you a new nature, gives you the Holy Spirit (his presence with us always), and gives you resurrection power. He gives you a new identity: child of God, a citizen of the kingdom, heir to eternity, member of the church, and united with Christ in his righteousness and holiness.
So let’s remember who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Let’s remember that we are new in him and that our life is in him. Let’s praise Jesus that in his grace he continually reminds us through his Word who he is, and who we are in him.