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McCoy: Keeping up with the Joneses
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"I'm reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I'm sure that this faith is also inside you. Because of this, I'm reminding you to revive God's gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. God didn't give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving and self-controlled."

2 Timothy 1:5-7
(Common English Bible)

Today, my son went to school looking like someone else. Today is "Celebrity Look-alike Day" at school, and so my son dressed up as one of his favorite celebrities. We straightened and sprayed and brushed and sprayed massive locks of God-given curls until it was as straight as we could possibly get it. He donned magnetic stud earrings and other unconventional jewelry in his attempt to "dress up" as his celebrity choice. When we were done, I have to say, he no longer looked like my curly-headed son, but in truth, he didn't really look like the celebrity either. Somewhere in all the straightening and spraying, he seemed to lose who he really is.

Many times we get so caught up in trying to be like others that we forget who God made us to be. We think, "If only I could sing like so-and-so" or "If I could look like that person," that somehow our lives would be different. We begin to believe that if we only had a better job or more money or a bigger house or a sportier car, we would be better off. My grandmother used to call it "Keeping up with the Joneses," and while I never could figure out who the Joneses were, I knew that somehow trying to keep up with them was a bad idea.

The Apostle Paul warns Timothy of the same thing - well, in different words, but it's the same idea. Paul writes a pastoral letter to his young "son in the faith"- a young man with great faith whom Paul had met on his missionary journeys. Timothy was a young pastor who needed encouragement and Paul was his encourager in the faith - Timothy's "Celebrity choice" for pastor. Paul reminds Timothy to "revive God's gift" that was given him - to be true to his own calling as a pastor. In other words, he could not be a Paul, Peter or anyone else. He had to just be himself and continue in the ministry to which he was called. As we approach Halloween and a time of dressing up as others and wearing masks to hide our own true identity, let's remember who we really are and whose we are. We are God's - made in God's image - to be uniquely who God made us to be.

Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at