Boozhoo niijii, bimaadizig. That was Ojibwe for “Hello, my friends who share this life together with me.” My name is Terry Wildman. My wife, Darlene, and I live in Maricopa, Arizona, on the traditional lands of the Pima and the Tohono O’Odham. My native ancestry is Ojibwe, from the Great Lakes region, and Yaqui, from Mexico and Arizona.
Today I am speaking about “Being While Becoming.” We all want to be who Creator has made us to be. This is true for our First Nations people; it’s true for all ethnicities, all colors. Becoming is a lifetime journey. When we are born into this world, we are born as human beings. Everything that we need to be human is already in us as newborn infants. This is true both physically and is true spiritually. When we were born from above by Creator Spirit, everything we need to be — everything Creator will do and work in us — is already true about us. It’s just in infant form; it’s in seed form, and it has to grow and become mature. So we are growing into what Creator has made us to be. And we are coming into the likeness of Creator Sets Free (Jesus), his Son.
Let me share some verses from the First Nations Version that make this point.
In James 1:18, it says this: “Creator is the one who chose to birth us into being by his word of truth so that we would be the first of all creation to truly be who he made us to be” (FNV). So we are growing into who Creator has made us to be. He has made us to be complete in Christ, to bear His image, to bear His likeness, because Creator Sets Free (Jesus) is the true human being. He is the perfect example of what it means to be human. And He has birthed us; He has given us a new birth. We have been born from above to bear that image, to have that image recreated in us. We become part of the new creation, the new human, the new humanity that He is creating. And so let’s look at another Scripture that makes that same point.
In Colossians 2:10, in the First Nations Version, it says, “He is the one above all other powers and forces, and you have been made complete in him.” So we have already been made complete. It’s not something we have to make happen ourselves. It’s not something we can do. It’s not something we could accomplish. We simply have to be. We have to be who He has made us to be and accept that our being in Him is enough. Being who we are created to be is part of a lifetime journey. This journey has already begun. It began with Creator Sets Free (Jesus) and what He accomplished on the cross and by His rising from the dead.
What I would like to bring out here is something Paul talks about in the Book of Galatians. He says in Galatians 3:28, “It no longer matters whether you are Tribal Members or Wisdom Seekers (Greeks), slaves or free, male or female. For in Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One you are all one people” (FNV). Sometimes it’s been said to me that “Oh, when you come to Christ, you have to give up being Native, you have to give up being whatever ethnicity you are.” Well, that can’t be because Paul says that there is neither male nor female, and of course, we don’t give up being male or female. What Paul is talking about, I believe here, he’s talking about how our differences no longer separate us. No one thinks they’re better than anyone else. No one has any special access to the Great Spirit — to Creator. We are all the same. We are all one in the Chosen One — in Christ. And so it’s important for us to understand that this journey begins in Him, and it begins also in us individually and together as a body. We are growing up into being who He’s created us to be.
Let’s look at what 1 John 3:2 says, that John talks about this idea of how we are already who He has made us to be. In 1 John 3:2, it says this: “Much-loved friends, we are now Creator’s children. It is not yet clear what we will be. But we know that when the Chosen One appears, we will be like him, for we will see him as he truly is” (FNV). So he says here, it does not yet appear what we shall be, but the more we see who Jesus is — the more He is revealed in us, the more He’s revealed to our hearts, our minds, and the more we grow spiritually, the more we become like Him. This isn’t something we make happen, it’s something that happens by His Spirit. And, of course, we cooperate with His Spirit. We let the Spirit do His work in us. We submit to the Spirit. And there are things we do — we need watering from His Word, from the Scriptures, that waters our spirit; it feeds us and nurtures us. And so these things are all true.
I think it’s important to understand that even though there’s no male or female, or no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, that we’re all one in the Chosen One — this does not mean that we’re all identical with each other. He has made us uniquely different. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everybody looked exactly the same, if everyone was the same ethnicity? Or even think of creation. What if all flowers were yellow, and no other color?
Creator is diverse. Creator wants us to be diverse. He wants to bring out the beauty of our cultures. He wants to bring out in us the beauty of who He has made us to be in whatever culture we’re born into. He wants us to bring the best out of our cultures. So as a Native person, I will be the best that I can be as a Native person. This is what Creator is working in us. And I believe with all my heart that it is through Creator Sets Free (Jesus) and His Spirit that this can be accomplished. He hasn’t come to strip us of our identities ethnically, but He has come to fulfill our identities in His Son, Jesus, the Chosen One.
Hey, it’s been good to be with you here today. Miigwech bizindawiyeg. That’s Ojibwe for “Thank you for listening.”