Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Identity Crisis

I have been listening and studying for a bit on this idea of identity. Specifically, what is our identity in Christ. I've come across a few things that have been a real revelation for me...
First, my identity is fixed. Circumstances cannot change even the smallest part of my identity. I heard it this way - "My identity is not determined by my activity." That is a powerful statement. I am who God says I am because he says that's who I am. God didn't whip up a fake ID and give me a disguise to trick Satan like they do in the movies when they are on the run. Through the death and resurrection of His son, God has established who I am and it cannot be undone by anyone or anything around me.
Second, I don't act on who I am. My actions reveal who I think I am. The Bible tells me that I am the righteousness of God. God said it to make it true. The reason it isn't more evident is that I forget or don't really believe it's true. God isn't dishonest, I'm forgetful. Even in my lack of faith, God speaks into my life, trying to shape me and remind me of who I really am.
Finally, God is our father. That sounds pretty vanilla, but it's profound when we understand what that really means. Think about how we view our own children. We beam with pride and joy when they make any kind of progress. We push them on to help them grow, but rejoice at every step. If my 9 yr old son kept crawling around the house, I'd be a little disappointed because he could do more. Let's be honest - I'm better than him at everything. He's 9, so I'm faster, stronger smarter, everything. But he's my son. He doesn't have to impress me to be my son. He doesn't have to wow me for me to be proud.
In the same way, we're God's children. We get a view of how He feels about his children when we see how he treated His son at his baptism. God spoke from heaven "this is my son, who I love. I'm pleased with him." At first, we think of course he's proud of him. It's Jesus. But think for a minute...what had Jesus done at this point? He hadn't performed a single miracle, hadn't preached a sermon, hadn't done any of the Jesus stuff. He'd been a carpenter that was obedient to his Father. That was enough for God to split the sky and announce that He loved him and was proud of him. God isn't waiting for me to cure cancer to be proud of me. He's not reserving judgement until I preach a sermon or heal the sick. He's not waiting for some event. He's proud of me and my next step and eager with anticipation for the one after that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Identity Crisis

Too often, we spend so much time focused on doing the right thing or not doing the wrong thing. I'm not saying it isn't valuable to consider this. I think that we constantly need to evaluate our actions and consider our motives. It seems, though, that it's easy to get bogged down in a list of do's and don'ts and forget one of the most basic things.

According to Ephesians 2, I was dead. My sin and disobedience was a death sentence. I was an object of God's wrath. There is no hope for me until verse 4. "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions" This is the big deal. God made us over again. I was dead because of who I was, but now I am alive. I have been reborn. I am new again. I'm not an updated version of the old me. God in his mercy brought me to life. Now I can say that I'm not who I used to be.

This is the important distinction. I think I spend far to much time stressed about my sinful nature. That sounds like I'm going against what I've been taught, but I think it's true because my nature is that I am a child of God. I don't need to wait for certain things to happen. I am who I am. No event will make my status as a child in God's family more or less true. Instead of wondering about what my nature is, I should be living out who I am. I'm not saying that Christians never make mistakes. I think as long as I'm alive there will be some things that nag me and cause me to struggle. But even in those moments, the core of who I am is unchanged. God didn't update me - he made me new. He didn't improve my sinful nature to make it better. He got rid of who I was and made me who I am. The debate now is how to make my new nature come out. Not discovering who I am and can be, but acting like who I already am.

I didn't have to wait for something to happen with my son to become a father. The moment he was born, my identity changed. I was a father. I didn't have to wait for him to say "daddy" or play baseball or ask a girl out on a date. If he never speaks a word, I'm a father. No action or inaction can change this part of who I am. I am a father. And being a father changed my actions. Once I grabbed hold of my new nature, I became different. I didn't have to be instructed in how to want to protect and care for my son. The same holds true for me on the inside. Once I grab hold of my new nature, I am free. Jesus paid the price for my freedom and it can never be taken from me. No amount of opposition from any source will change this. I am free because of what I am becoming and what I have become. I'm not in God's family because of the do's and don'ts. All of the rule keeping in the world won't save me. I'm going to keep them though. Not for the sake of the rules, but because of who I am.