NOTE: This article appeared in my monthly columns in Velocity and Direction Magazines this month. Both of these magazines are published for Gen Z’s by Randall House Publishing. I hope you’ll forward this link to your kids to read!
Imagine you have the ability to disappear whenever you are feeling pressured. For instance, every time you are about to take an intense exam, or your mother is looking for you to wash the dishes, or your dad is about to hand out some weekend yard duties, you have this amazing ability to just disappear and avoid it all.
You probably know about these funny little lizards that have a similar ability. Some species of chameleons can actually change their colors to adapt to their surroundings and thus avoid an intense moment of their own like becoming a tasty treat to a predator!
Though such an ability is simply unrealistic for you and me, I have met people who seem to act like a chameleon based upon where they are or who they are with. Maybe you too know someone who acts one way at school, another way around one group of friends, and often a completely different way when with another set of friends. You might know someone who appears to be one color while at church and another color when on Snapchat or Instagram. Similar to a chameleon, such people tend to change based upon who they are with or what they are doing.
In today’s world of remaining tolerant and culture cool, the idea of being a chameleonis often celebrated. It’s like there’s this unspoken incessant message permeating culture today that says: be who you need to be in order to be who you desire to be!
You’ve probably heard it said before that integrity is who you are when no one else is looking.
Who are you when no one else is looking? Are you the same in person as you are online? Are you the same you, no matter who is looking…or not looking?
If we could take a look at the last 100 text messages you’ve sent or images you’ve posted, or websites you’ve visited, would we see you being the same person in the cyber world as you are in the real world? It can be exhausting changing colors, which is essentially the equivalent of adopting a survival technique, just to be the person you think you should be or the person the world, your friends, or family expect you to be. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier just to be you, no matter where you are or who you are with?
If we are truly seeking after Christ, we should be anything but a chameleon. A life in Christ should bring you freedom from the need to feel like you have to be a chameleon. Jesus promises a life abundant when we follow and seek after Him. What is a life abundant? Such a life is one free from secrets, free from worrying about what the world says and thinks about you, and free from the belief that you have to adapt or change to be accepted by others.
Living a life of integrity is freedom. Freedom in Christ is where our identity should reside. The irony is that the freedom the world claims to give you can only be found in Christ – it’s what He promises. Lots of people think if they choose God’s way, they’re giving up the freedom to live the way they want. The world’s way may make you feel free at first, but you’ll soon find that it’ll make you feel even more imprisoned that you did before. Just think for a second: When you do something wrong, you’re weighed down by the fear that you’ll get caught or stuck with some really un-fun consequences, like punishment from your parents, a failing grade, a wrecked car, or something worse. The list can go on forever.
Freedom found in Christ is built on Him – the best, the strongest, the eternal foundation! And, it’ll never leave you feeling trapped, empty, or exhausted from trying to constantly change colors just to maintain identity, popularity and more.
Romans 6:16-18 makes it clear that if you choose to follow God’s plan, you’ll truly be free. But, this passage also warns that if you offer yourself to sin, this will be your last free act. God’s plan isn’t about giving up freedom. God’s plan isn’t about you being trapped constantly looking to blend in like a chameleon. God’s plan is about being free! So, find confidence today in knowing that as a child of God’s you don’t have to change colors and be anyone or anything other than who He has made you to be!
Jeffrey Dean is a family influencer, author, and the host of Family Strong with Jeffrey Dean podcast. Follow Jeffrey on Facebook @iamjeffreydean.