My Bourne Identity

I was flipping channels last week when I came across Jason Bourne beating up on a clueless foreign service agent. It’s a great scene. Not that I have anything against foreign service agents, of course, but there’s something satisfying in seeing one guy going against the world, with the world at a disadvantage. The guy has skills I would love to have at strategic moments in life. You know, like next time I’m trapped on a fire escape outside the embassy. Or even at the mall before Christmas.

The Bourne series ranks as three of my favorite movies. The fourth one that came out last year doesn’t qualify because putting Bourne in the title and not in the story is just rude. But I never get tired of watching the first three.

There are lots of reasons for that. For one thing, I love movies in general. Good stories on film can be great parables of truth. Stories fly under the radar of that defensive instinct we have when we feel like somebody might be trying to teach us something. (Because God forbid we actually learn something from someone else, right? I mean, who do they think they are?) Stories convey truth more powerfully than straightforward words do. They resonate with our hearts.bourne

Plus, they make for great language study if you practically know them by heart and then play the dubbed version in another language. And there’s nothing quite like a CIA operative in India cussing out a Russian hit-man in French, is there? But I digress.

The main reason I like the Jason Bourne character so much—aside from the fact that he has lots of passports and the enviable ability to navigate any city in the world with his photographic memory, multiple fluencies, and a knack for landing accurately on top of moving transportation, which could really come in handy—is that I can relate to him.

Yes, you read that right. I can relate to an invincible ex-assassin with abnormal skills.

You can probably relate to him too. Not because he can function five steps ahead of everyone else and bring down a government agency singlehandedly—although that’s tempting—but because he’s in a predicament we all share.

Think about it. Found floating in the sea by fishermen, he wakes up unaware of who he is. Over time, he discovers that he has unique and unreasonable capabilities, but he doesn’t know why. An unknown enemy is relentlessly trying to kill him. Other people are mercilessly trying to define him while he’s wrestling with his own identity. He doesn’t know who he is, but he knows he isn’t who they say he is. And throughout all three movies, he’s piecing together his own story while in a life-or-death struggle to prevent others from writing it for him.

That’s you and me, isn’t it? We’re born into this world not knowing who we are. Plenty of people try to define us, but we know there’s a deeper, truer identity at our core. We may spend a lifetime trying to figure that out, but we have to do so in the midst of brutal assaults on our understanding, our goals, and our safety. And, whether we realize it or not, we have amazing skills—spiritual authority, gifts, weapons of warfare in the invisible battle, and more. Through the epic journey of our lives, we have to figure out how to use them. And yes, in many ways it’s a life-or-death struggle.

In a deeply spiritual sense, we have to know . . .

Who we were designed to be. Other people with an agenda will try to pigeonhole us, typecast us, whatever you want to call it. They unwittingly define us from their own perspectives. We have to piece together our own story while others are trying to write it for us. At some point, we have to say “no” to the identity being imposed on us by others and insist on the identity given to us by God.

The weapons at our disposal. In redemption, God has given us divine capabilities. We don't fully understand them, but we have to learn to use them—prayer, faith, authoritative words, wisdom, and more. We can stay several steps ahead of the enemy if we understand divine strategies.

What's at stake. Truth is elusive for those who aren't actively seeking it, but we can't be satisfied with superficial explanations. We don't trust every message we hear, and we're always on the alert. We fight for what’s right, because there aren’t that many around us who will. We have to take a stand.

That’s why I can relate to an invincible ex-assassin with abnormal skills. Not because he has abnormal skills, or because he used to be an assassin, or because he’s invincible. No, he’s relatable because he’s in a painful process of discovery all of us have to go through. Because he’s in a intense battle, and the stakes are high. And because he’s inevitably going to win.

Click to tweet: We have to piece together our own story even while others are trying to write it for us.

Click to tweet: At some point, we have to say no to the identity being imposed on us by others and insist on the identity given to us by God.

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