Philip was new to the area.
He completed basic training with the highest of recommendations from the staff. Similarly, his technical training performance report showed he possessed great skill, leadership ability, and a commitment to excellence. He liked his new location, made good friends, and looked forward to even better things to come. Philip was a natural leader and felt ready to take on this new challenge.
Philip’s only problem was transportation. He left his old car at home because it couldn’t make the distance without costly repairs. Every time Philip left his military installation he noticed used car lots filled with shiny cars and promises of easy financing. All his friends had cars and he grew tired of hitching a ride or borrowing their cars. He knew he had a steady paycheck and a genuine need, but could he afford what he really wanted? He reasoned that looking at the cars couldn’t hurt. The dealers were probably promising more than they could deliver, but the longer Philip went without a car, the more desperate he became. His friends didn’t exactly help with their teasing and pressuring.
A Saturday trip to town finally convinced Philip that he could wait no longer. A polished and freshly waxed red car on the corner of the lot caught his eye. The interior was pristine and it had a killer stereo system. Never mind that it was a Ford Fiesta and had high mileage. The salesman noticed him looking and gave him every reason to purchase the car. Philip knew that even this car was out of his price range but a promotion was coming and he could sacrifice for a few months.
One of Philip’s closest friends, Kenneth, was not so sure Philip was making a wise decision. He agreed the salesman was offering a great deal, but there had to be a catch. There was always a catch. He also knew something that Philip didn’t—next month his uncle planned to give Philip a birthday surprise, his Classic ‘69 Corvette. It needed a paint job and the duct tape on the seats was coming up, but it was free and it ran like a charm.
The more Philip gravitated toward the Ford Fiesta, the more anxious Kenneth became. Finally, he let Philip know about the surprise, yet Philip was unexpectedly unfazed. He convinced himself that buying a car would show that he was truly independent. He knew he couldn’t afford the Ford Fiesta, but it became an identity statement for him. Two months later, the Ford Fiesta sat idle in the dormitory parking lot because Philip didn’t have enough money to make the car payment, pay the insurance, and have some left over for gas.
This fictional story may be an uncomfortable reality for many. How often do we let what we purchase or even what others think of us define who we are? We think we have value because we are independent and in control, even if we choose something cheap. We forget that our identity is determined by our relationship with Christ. He has made us new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and His work in us gives us value. Perhaps now is a time to reevaluate where we find our identity.