Our Identity in Christ
Who am I?
So, this morning I want to talk to you about identity. Who are we in Christ? What does he say about us and how can we apply this to our lives?
As I was thinking about this I thought maybe lots of you might not know me, or know me as 'Tom's wife', ironically an identity I've become very familiar with. I'm very often asked if I belong to him or people say 'oh you must be Tom's wife,'.....It's fine, I don't mind it, but sometimes I'd feel like saying I do have a name! That isn't just who I am, however great that is!
I've felt like God has put this subject on my heart, it's something I've struggled with in the past, and probably will struggle with again in the future, it's a constant learning curve and I'm sure many of you here will be able to relate to this topic in some way or another.
As a teenager, a time where life can have many ups and downs anyway, my mum and dad separated and consequently I was often labelled as or talked about as being from a broken home. Not something I wanted to be known as! This probably stayed with me throughout my teen years and into my 20's but I came to realise just because my home had been broken didn't mean that I was broken. This life changing event may have shaped me into who I am today but it didn't define who I was.
God uses the consequences of our situation for good, it says that in scripture:
'and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose for them'
Romans 8 v 28
And even now as a young mum of three I can feel I've lost my identity sometimes... Often just being referred to as Henry, Freddie and Evie's mum, trying to make home life work, work life work, juggling it all under a big pile of washing!
The dictionary definition of the word “identity” is: 'who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others'... Other words for “identity” are: label; name; define; stamp. Our identity is the core of who we are!
In the world we live in today, we can find ourselves a little lost in finding who we are; it’s easy to define ourselves by what the world says about us. You often hear people saying 'they need to find their true selves and discover who they really are'.
What makes us ‘us’? Is it our name? Our DNA? Our job? Our skin colour? Our age? Our birth country? Our parents? We can easily label ourselves and others. But this isn't where our identity is truly found.
What do we see when we look in the mirror? Do we see ourselves as who God created us to be? Or do we see our faults or those worldly labels others have given us or that we've spoken over ourselves?
Who we see ourselves as can stem from many things - a relationship, our childhood, names we were called when we were young, things people speak over us now, our work environment, our friends or family. The perception of our identity can change.
Everything that we do and say stems from our confidence in who we believe we are or are not. Decisions are made and actions are taken because of where we place our identity. When God created it, he fashioned it to be constant and unchanging. He designed it this way so that we could walk in freedom and confidence, knowing that even when we mess up, we are forever loved, useful and powerful because of His Spirit in us. Nothing can take away our identity given to us by God, but we must accept it! If not, we are left defining ourselves by our life experiences, people's opinions, bank accounts, abilities, social media. We can become desperate seeking to be somebody but always falling short of feeling secure.
Recently we got some caterpillars, that you grow at home! We had five, which over time turned into butterflies. It was an amazing thing to watch! When it was time to let them go we did so in the garden and the boys said their goodbyes. Now each day since, every time Freddie sees a butterfly in our garden, he says, look Mummy, it's one of mine! It makes my heart smile, but also reminds me of how God looks at us!
So let's look at what does God says about us. Thankfully God doesn't see us as we see ourselves.
The bible is full of promises for us and this is where foundations in our Christian faith come from. These words are what we should base our identity on.
Let's remind ourselves about what scripture says about our identity.
YOU ARE LOVED!
'For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God. How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand'.
Wow! This scripture is well known by many of you I'm sure, but every time I read it, I'm reminded of God's deep, fierce love for us, and how we are his masterpiece, his best in show!
There are many other scriptures that talk about God's love for us.
'and I am convinced that nothing can ever see rate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither Angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-- not even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below, indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the live if God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord'
Romans 8 v 38
'I have loved you with an everlasting love'
I know how much I care for and adore my own children - even when they test us - but I realised how much more God’s is love for us!
His love is unconditional, never changing, never failing - always faithful. It's consistent in an inconsistent world. It has no limits. We can’t earn his love, it's a gift.
It can be hard for our human heads to grasp this because in this world there's often payment needed for what we receive but if we can get our heads around it and start to truly believe he loves us, then it will change our lives. It will fill us with that God-given confidence that we can't find in anything else and this in turn will enable us to tell others about God’s love for them!
YOU ARE FORGIVEN
'He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of His son and forgave our sins'
'But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness'
1 John 1v9
We know that God sent his son Jesus to die for our salvation, because he loved us.
What a blessing to know that! By Christ's loving act of grace, we as believers are externally freed from the penalty and the guilt of our sin. Our forgiveness is total and complete.
We all fall short but we are justified through his mercy. Knowing this forgiveness is foundational in experiencing the fullness of life Jesus died to give us. God calls us out of that darkness into his light. God saves us and gives us that new identity as his sons and daughters, made righteous and pure.
YOU ARE A NEW CREATION
'For you are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do good things he planned for us long ago'
'Therefore if enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new'
2 Corinthians 5v17
Our old nature has gone, and he's moulding us into his likeness. If we are in Christ, and have that personal relationship with him, we are a new creation, the old doesn't just stick around until we die - it's gone!
If we begin to believe that God truly has already transformed us, then you will live and act on a foundation that births freedom and righteousness. Surrender your old identity, and embrace your new one!
There are so many other things he speaks over us I could've picked; you are righteous, you are His child, you are chosen, you are His friend, you are created in His likeness, you are redeemed, Grace-lavished, accepted, free from shame and condemnation, you are enough, you are secure, you are valuable....the list goes on.
Christ gives us a stable and eternal hope in a world of unstable hopelessness. When our identity is in Him, we will not be crushed by our failures and weaknesses, fall into pride from worldly successes or become disappointed. We no longer chase after the desires of our flesh but seek to bring God glory in all areas of our lives.
If we lived out of an identity based on how God sees us, we would no longer feel the need to find our worth in our external circumstances. It frees us up to live in a confident manner, instead of changing who we are based on others, the jobs we have, how we see ourselves and all the other ways we try to define our significance.
The sooner we realise that all we want and need is in Christ, the sooner we will find that deep satisfaction we've been seeking. A peaceful heart. Let's have that God-given confidence and remember how much we are worth.
God often deliberately chooses those who feel ill-equipped in their abilities. Look at Mary the mother of Jesus. Poor, young, not married.
Esther - orphaned, a Jewish women with a foreign King, God chose her to be Queen.
When we step out in faith and be strong in who God says we are, he can use us for amazing things.
Ruth was a widow in a foreign land who ended up in the lineage of Jesus!
So practically, how can we live free in the identity God has given us?
Read it in the Bible. Remind yourself of what God says about you daily. Our foundations come from His word.
If ever I'm struggling, I will often write encouraging things down on post it notes and stick them around my house and on my mirrors! So every time I look at myself, I'm reminded of His promises over me.
Get others around you who are encouraging, who build you up in Christ, who will remind you of your worth.
Pray - ask God to change the way you look at yourself and allow you to live freely in the identity he gives you!
The Holy Spirit was sent to be our helper, use it! Let's be filled with the Holy Spirit - ask the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. It is how we can be Christ-like.
In the same way that I wasn't broken even though I was from a broken home, you are more than your worldly circumstances. Remember who made you!! Remind yourself daily of His promises, speak over yourself what He speaks over you.
When life gets hard and we lose ourselves a little, go back to your foundations!! They are an important part of our Christian life!!
Often I like to think of us as a work in progress, you might not wake up one morning and suddenly feel completely confident in who God says you are. But how thankful can we be that God's there with us, walking with us every step of the way through this journey we call life.