YOUNG ADULT

A Temple Steward's Identity

I have a split identity. Though my heritage is Korean, I’m as American as they come—proudly pledging allegiance to the flag, eating Tofurky (vegetarian substitute) and mashed potatoes for

Thanksgiving, and learning solely English from the moment I could speak. Having recently moved to Korea to teach

middle school English, however, I have begun to call my identity into question. Adapting to Korean

culture has been complicated. Despite sharing the physical characteristics of

the local Koreans, I differ from the general population owing to my inability

to speak Korean.

I have a split identity. Though my heritage is Korean, I’m as American as they come—proudly pledging allegiance to the flag, eating Tofurky (vegetarian substitute) and mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and learning solely English from the moment I could speak.



At first, I felt

defensive of my American identity that was constantly proverbially at war with

my almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, and olive skin. My pride kept encouraging me to close my mind and remain the

same. Realizing that this was

ineffective, I eventually swallowed my self-importance, thinking that sheer

mimicry could help me assimilate myself into the culture instead; however, no

matter how much I tried to look like a local in dress and mannerisms, I was

still an “outsider.” It became apparent the moment anyone tried to speak to me. “I don’t speak Korean. I’m from America,” became my mantra.



All of this changed

when I began teaching. Suddenly,

my ability to speak English was useful, and I no longer had to impersonate to

feel accepted. Watching the students

respond to my lessons and hearing their English improve became such an

encouragement. In fact, the moment

I fully grew into my new role, I found my identity crisis

to be a non-issue. My service gave

me purpose instead and I became committed to using my

language abilities to facilitate my students’ learning.



In much the same

way, becoming stewards of the “temple of God” involves a similar

identity transformation. Physically, we share the appearance of God, being made in His

image (Gen. 1:27). This body,

according to 1 Corinthians 6:19, is His temple—not a castle surrounded by a

moat, protected by a fire-breathing dragon. Too often, however, we become more like fortresses of pride

than sanctuaries where the Holy Spirit can abide. When this proves ineffective, we start believing that being

stewards of the temple—the house of the Lord—can be accomplished through

correctness: eating healthfully, abstaining from bad habits, having daily

devotions, being temperate in all things.

While these are all good and integral parts of the Christian lifestyle,

one cannot simply go through the motions to claim the identity of being the

“steward of the temple.” One must realize that true stewardship is first an inward

commitment to, and, focus on, Jesus that results in outward service.



“I don’t speak Korean. I’m from America,” became my mantra.

The Desire of Ages, Ellen G. White

In The Desire of Ages, Ellen G. White

states, “I don’t speak Korean. I’m from America,” became my mantra.

(p. 488). God chose us, fought for

us and deliberately decided to set up camp in our feeble, imperfect

bodies. As believers in this

truth, who are we to reject Him with our pride or replace him with routine,

seemingly correct actions?

Instead, we should find identity in our work for the Lord—honoring His

sacrifice by sharing our God-given talents with others. This new self-perception allows the Holy

Spirit to find a hospitable place to reside, a place where he can truly

transform us from within. Through

this physical, emotional and spiritual service to Christ, we honor Him with our

bodies, making us true stewards of the temple of God.



...How does it

change my thoughts and behavior when I remember the Holy Spirit lives in

me — God's temple'?

Shauna Chung
Shauna

Chung, 22, graduated from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, USA, with

degrees in English and Music.

Since age three, she has wanted to be a teacher and hopes to pursue

graduate work in English in order to be an educator for as long as God allows

it. She teaches conversational English in South Korea.

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