I wonder if you have ever seen a golden pheasant. It’s one of the most beautiful birds in the world. They are native to Western China, but you can also find them in the Western United States. There are many breeders nowadays because they are beautiful, and people are willing to pay a good price to buy them. The Chinese regard them as a symbol of good luck because they look like the Chinese mythological phoenix, especially when they fly.
As beautiful as they are, they are still far from the status of a phoenix in the Chinese mind because a pheasant is, after all, a hillbilly bird, unlike the divine phoenix. Pheasants love fighting with one another to show who’s the boss; they have huge egos. That’s why they are regarded as rustic despite their beauty.
A Chinese metaphor describes a spiritual person or a person of high intellectual and moral status as a “phoenix.” Like the resurrection of Christ, a phoenix can rise from ashes. They are immune to adversity and are symbols of peace and resilience.
That gives us a good allegory for living our new identity as risen people. The Bible says,
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Co 5:17).
Many similar verses in the Bible tell us that we used to be pheasants, but now we are phoenixes. The pheasant life represents a life of ego, full of greed, anger, and ignorance, but the phoenix is a life of love, joy, and peace.
In other words, to cultivate inner peace, you need an identity shift—from a pheasant to a phoenix, from being worldly to being divine. The Bible repeatedly encourages us to shift our identity—from the old self to the new self, from a barren life to a fruitful life, from being born of the flesh to that of the spirit, from living under the law to living under grace, and so on.
That’s what “repentance” means, as we discussed previously.
According to psychology, some people cannot quit smoking because they identify themselves as smokers consciously or unconsciously. The moment they shift their identity, they are set free from the old habits. If I say I have a sweet tooth, I will never recover from sugar addiction.
Many years ago, after I was diagnosed with depression, a friend told me to join his support group for depressive personality. I refused to join because I didn’t like the name of the group, “depressive personality support group.” It made me depressed just to hear the name. How could I ever recover from depression if I identified myself as a depressive personality?
I struggled with the decision for a while because he kept inviting me. Later I realized I made the right decision by refusing to claim that identity. It makes me understand why Jesus keeps calling us positive names: you are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the children of God, the children of light, born of the spirit, not of the flesh, etc.
Jesus gives us a new identity to live a new way of life. Today, I want to remind you that you are no longer pheasants but phoenixes. It’s essential to claim that new identity, and you will find it easier to quit the old habits and have peace within.
This fallen world is a world of fighting pheasants, and we will never find peace living like pheasants. It’s their nature to fight, just as it’s human nature to sin. You may be trying hard to brace yourself against the temptations of the flesh, but it doesn’t last.
Why? It’s because you still hold the pheasant identity. Pheasants do what pheasants do. Resisting your nature is stressful, and you will give in sooner or later. The only solution is to shift your identity from the earthly pheasant to the heavenly phoenix. Then peace becomes you!
For the past four weeks, we have been studying Cultivating PEACE Within. I have identified five pillars of peace forming the acrostic PEACE. Previously we have talked about,
P – Presence: Protect God’s Presence in Us
E – Emptiness: Empty Myself (as Jesus Did)
A – Atonement: Atone with Forgiveness (nothing else works)
C – Community: Concert with the Community
E – Entertainment: Entertain Beauty
So, today we are on the fifth pillar of cultivating peace: Entertainment. The Bible reveals that the quality of our entertainment can enforce our identity and enrich our lives. With that, the God of peace and the peace of God is with us. Let’s find out!
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or
To leave or reply to comments,
please download free Podbean App.