There is always much talk of my “rights” and “identity” in the world today. People claim many rights that are, well… plainly put, just wrong. The right to abortion, the right to marry someone of the same sex, the right to “self-fulfillment”.
We hear the question posed: how do you “identify” yourself? This determination is often made by your sexuality, race, gender, personality, nationality, family of origin, profession, talent, achievements…the list goes on.
Right now, STOP for a moment and describe yourself. What is in the list that identifies who you are?
NOW, let me pose THIS question:
IF ANY OF THESE WERE TAKEN FROM YOU, WHERE WOULD YOUR IDENTITY COME FROM?
Makes you stop and wonder, right? Good. I am writing this to provoke you to determine and know with confidence WHO YOU ARE.
“Ray” grew up playing sports. At 6’6″ tall, he was your classic “jock”. Predictably, he achieved a scholarship to play basketball at the college level. “Ray” comes from an upper middle class home in a Houston suburb, parents divorced in his early teens, and he lived with his father after that. The affirmation that “Ray” received from his dad always came based on his performance. If he did well on the court, his dad was proud. His identity was founded in what he did and based on the perception/affirmation of others. Once he became a student at University of Oklahoma, a different world was made available to him and he indulged in gambling, drugs and alcohol. All of this affected his ability to play sports. Suddenly, he was not the person that everyone knew him to be. Now, his identity shifted to “the bookie”, “the pothead”, “the drunk”.
I paint this picture for you to show you that we cannot define ourselves by things that can be stripped away from us in a moment. Circumstances change, injuries happen, the economy fails, we age, and we fail. If I am defined by what I do, then at any given moment my identity will change from champion to loser.
We have just begun a new sermon series at Powerhouse Church called “In Christ ~ Discover Your Rights”. When someone says they are “in Christ”, what does that mean?
If I say that I am IN the pool, that means the pool surrounds me. If I say that I am IN the house, that means the roof covers me, the walls surround me, etc. If I am IN my clothes, the clothes cover me. So…to be IN Christ means that He surrounds me, covers me, and I am decreased. In order to be IN something, I must be smaller than that which I am placing myself into.
When we identify as a “Christian” we are saying that we are IN Christ. How does that translate?
As I was listening to our pastor describe “putting on Christ”, these Scriptures flooded my heart and mind:
He has DRESSED me with salvation and given me a ROBE of righteousness. The prophet Isaiah compares this to a bride and her wedding day…one of the most monumental days in the life of a woman or man. There’s more…
This verse implies that I have a part in being IN Christ as well as a choice about what I do. WHAT??? It’s not just saying a prayer, He puts His robe on me and then I’m walking around looking like Him?
Imagine that you are a queen [you ARE!]. You have many visitors and ambassadors from other countries who come to meet with you. One such visitor asked to wear your crown. You allow it. She walks around with the crown on, though she has not been schooled in etiquette, customs, laws, or politics. Would you allow her to make decisions on your behalf and use your name to exercise authority? Because she is wearing the crown, does that make her an heir to the throne? No. In order to be an heir, you must be in covenant with the family.
When we are IN Christ, we are made righteous. If we choose to “put off” Christ and “put on” the old man, then we become unrighteous. So many today are seeking individualism and identity by what they do or how they feel. But IN Christ, we are to walk by FAITH and by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
I would love to hear from you. Let me know how this post provoked you to IDENTIFY yourself.