There is a powerful new advert out from NatWest. I think it has something to do with promoting their social responsibility credentials (I won’t be discussing that here!)
However, the video raises some interesting questions about who we are – essentially saying that “we are what we do.” We make choices and decisions, it is those that will ultimately define us . . . or at least, that is what the video argues.
You can watch it here ::
It is very powerful – using visual images to convey different aspects of our individual (and collective) character . . . we can all be :
thoughtful . . . and thoughtless
kind . . . and cruel
creative . . . and destructive
brave . . . and stupid
heroes . . . and villains
visionary . . . and we are blind
responsible . . . and responsible (yes, this is clever . . . the images are a child being carried on a shoulder as they fall asleep – being taken care of and then we switch to an image of ice melting – a reference to global warming and our collective “responsibility” for this).
then . . .
“we are all what we have done” (with an image of an old man)
“what we will do” (with an image of a newly born child)
the video then finishes with the lines,
“so, we all have a duty to do the right thing . . . we, are no different.”
The “we” could be referring to the bank being no different from each of us as individual people – the bank too makes choices. Or, you could interpret that statement as saying . . . we are no different from each other, we all have the capacity to make good “right” choices or . . . not.
I think it is a great video to use with a youth group. You can ask all kinds of questiions about our identity and sense of self.
+ Are we what we do?
+ Is this what defines us? The little choices we make each day to be kind or cruel, thoughtful or thoughtless?
+ Do our actions alone determine the kind of life we will live?
+ How we might be remembered or thought of by others?
What does the Bible say about who and what we are?
“There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
Paul here could be quoting from a number of passages in the Old Testament as he prefaces this statement with, “as it is written” – here are two possible sources :
“There is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.”
“All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
These verses are pretty damning. We might add this to the mix, which feels even bleaker an assessment of humanity,
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Well, this is just awful. Here, even the good we do is seen as rubbish! What a hopeless state to be in.
This is the state we are in though. This is our true reality – whether one day we choose a good act or the following day we make a choice to be unthinking or unloving or hurtful . . . doing the right thing occassionally cannot save us.
This is why we have a wonderful gospel. The “what we will do” from that little child through to “what we have done” of the old man reflecting on a life almost passed is not what defines us. It is not what determines our destiny.
What we have the potential to do and what we ultimately will do is wrapped up not in our choices – but in the choice Jesus made.
The choice when he did not grasp after equality with God.
The choice when he become one of us.
The choice when he said, “not my will – but yours be done.”
Written across our lives are not our attempts at goodness. The acts we do. What is written across our lives, in the sacrificial blood of our Saviour is what He has done.
We are defined not by what we chose to do yesterday, or will choose to do today and tomorrow, but by what he has already done.
Watchman Nee puts it like this in “The Normal Christian Life”,
“The blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what we are. The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin.”
Outside of the Bible, these words have had a greater impact on me than anything else I have ever read.
We cannot improve ourselves by attempting to be a “better Christian”, I must “try harder” to make right choices . . . I “can do it” – I am responsible – I must work this out and make it right.”
We must submit to Christ.
We must receive forgiveness.
We must be empowered and equipped by the power of the Spirit that Paul goes on to unpack in Romans chapter 8.
Only then, as we seek to walk in the light will we live rightly. This is not through our effort to “do” good things, but through daily submission to Christ, daily asking Him to fill us, equip us, guide us, lead us . . . asking for His very presence to be in our thoughts, our actions, our habits . . . all that will shape our destiny.
That He, the very author or life might write on the pages of our days.