What's your brand?

I've recently started reading a legal blog called "Above the Law." The other day, one of their posts, "What's your brand?" reminded me of what we have been learning at church. The basic gist of the article is that each person needs to find their "brand," the thing that characterizes them, the thing that they're known for.

To be honest, reading the article made me kind of sad. Readers are encouraged to "consider their packaging" and find their strengths. The problem is, we're packaged in sin. Every part of our lives- even every part of this world is enveloped by the Curse. There is nothing we can boast of. But for we Christians, we can boast in Christ. We're packaged in His righteousness. Our "brand," to use its other definition, is the Holy Spirit, God's seal and promise that we have an inheritance in Him. We don't have to worry about or navel-gaze until we find our strengths and play them up for the world. Our strength is God's strength that is made manifest in our weakness. When we walk into a room, we don't have to focus on the one thing that we want people to see in us. We want people to see Christ. (Note: the goal isn't to show people how holy or spiritual or religious we are, either. If that's our goal, then we're still missing the point.)

I think it's really easy for Christians to look at this concept of self-branding and say it's completely anti-Christian. But I don't want to stop there. I think there is something we can learn from this. We all have the same "brand" in Christ, but are we not also different parts of one body? One person is the eye, and one person is the ear. "But I don't feel like an arm," a person might say, "I feel very small." I would respond, well maybe you are small, but that does not mean you are insignificant. Maybe you are a foramina , a small but necessary hole through which a nerve travels. You might not be the eye that sees or the nerve that controls it, but you might be an important support structure that allows this function to happen. Maybe that is your much-needed gifting.

Like I said before, navel-gazing is bad. However, a little introspection is necessary to utilize our places in the church. For example, with my health issues, I've developed my own doctrine of suffering, control, and health. Someone else may have developed their own doctrine of what it means to serve others while getting practically nothing in return. Another person may develop their doctrine of hospitality, and yet another what it means to represent Christ in a predominately non-Christian environment. The list goes on. I think through our experiences and our giftings, we learn different things about God, and we can use those unique aspects of our lives to affect the way we serve others.

These individual characteristics can become a type of "brand," though I hesitate to use the term. I do not mean "brand" as something that defines who we are, something that gives us worth, or something that we are known for or by. What I do mean, however, is something that characterizes the individuality that God has blessed us with and the ways we can use that individuality to serve God and others. What has God been teaching you lately? What is the brand God has given you?