Who Are You? Our Astonishing New Identities

Who are you
Who who who who
Who are you
Who who who who – “Who Are You” by The Who

Who are you? Are you fundamentally a sinner? Are you a good person? Someone in need of more self-esteem?

Are you victim?  Are you a hopeless slave to your passions?  A product of your environment?  Do you need to remind yourself daily, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Most of us have no problem identifying ourselves as sinners. But that’s not the sum total of our identity. In fact the most important part of our identity is who we are in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Is this how you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a new creation in Christ? Or do you continue to see yourself primarily as a sinner? Maybe you would say I’m a sinner saved by grace, but the emphasis would still be on sinner.

In How People Change, Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp tell us that as important as it is that we recognize ourselves as sinners,

“Many believers also fail to see the other side of their gospel identity: their identity in Christ. Christ not only gives me forgiveness and a new future, but a whole new identity as well! I am now a child of God, with all of the rights and privileges that this title bestows.”

Who are we in Christ? It’s jaw-dropping amazing when we look at all the New Testament says about believers in Jesus.  In addition to being new creations, we are:

  • Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  • Called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28)
  • Predestined to be conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29)
  • Justified ones (Romans 8:30)
  • Those whom God is for (Romans 8:31)
  • God’s elect (Romans 8:33)
  • Unable to be separated from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35)
  • More than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)
  • Part of Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:25)
  • In the Spirit (Romans 8:9)
  • Loved by God (Romans 1:7)
  • Saints (Romans 1:7)
  • Under grace (Romans 6:17)
  • Set free from sin (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of God (Romans 6:22)
  • Sons of the living God (Romans 9:26)
  • Temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • Future judges of the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
  • The body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • Children of promise (Galatians 4:28)
  • Members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19)
  • Light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8)
  • Lights in the world (Philippians 2:15)
  • Part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9)
  • One of God’s people who has received mercy (1 Peter 2:10)
  • Free (1 Peter 2:16)
  • Forgiven (1 John 2:12)

This is who we are in Christ!  Here’s my suggestion – print these out and stick them on your fridge or in your Bible and regularly thank Jesus for these glorious truths.


I Think We Could All Use A Little More Self Esteem

Self-esteem can be a tricky subject for us Christians. For those of us who believe in the doctrine of sin, we bristle and ball our fists at the slightest reference to self-esteem. We start rabidly frothing at the mouth, then jab our quivering finger at Romans 3 and say, “There is no such thing as self esteem, because we’re all worthless sinners whose righteousness is like filthy rags!” I’ve been in that group at times.

But in recent years my thinking on this subject has changed a little bit. As I’ve studied scripture, I’ve come to see that there is such a thing as good, godly self-esteem.

Godly self-esteem comes from understanding that every person is valuable to God, not because of what they’ve done, but because they are created in the image of God. Worldly self-esteem simply says that every person is valuable, but it doesn’t go any further. It leaves the focus squarely on us. We’re told that we need to love ourselves more because we’re worth it.

Godly self-esteem, on the other hand, says that we are valuable because God made us. He has placed his stamp on us and we belong to him. Every person is valuable to God, and even though we are sinners, God still cares about and values each person. Sin has marred the image of God, but it’s still there.

A person with godly self-esteem also realizes that they have been purchased with the blood of Christ. God himself approves of them because of the blood of his son. They can rest secure in that position. They are a part of the precious family of God.

So when it comes to things like losing weight, or cutting, or eating disorders, or body image, or loneliness, or any number of issues, we do need to have godly, appropriate self-esteem. The Bible doesn’t say that we are worthless. The Bible doesn’t say that we’re pieces of dirt. It says that we’re sinners. But it also says we are valuable to God because he made us and he bought us with blood. Our security and value doesn’t come from what we look like, or if we’re skinny, or if we’re popular. Our value comes from God himself.

Are we all desperate sinners who need a savior? Yes, absolutely. But being a desperate sinner doesn’t make me worthless. God has declared that I have worth simply by the fact that he created me. I can rest in that. I can be okay with who I am. Who God made me to be. And I want to help my fellow brothers and sisters and Christ realize that they too, are valuable to God.

What Distinguishes Us From Everyone Else On Earth

The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’  I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”  When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.  Exodus 33:1-4

God told Israel to go up to the land he’d promised them. He’d drive their enemies out as he had promised.  It would be a delightful land –  flowing with milk and honey. You’d think they would have celebrated.  Land, no enemies, peace, milk, honey, what more could they want? Yet something about what God said made it a “disastrous word” which caused them to mourn.

What was this “disastrous word”?

“I will not go up among you.”

God knew if his presence went with Israel, in his Holiness he would have to punish their sins and they would be destroyed. So he says you can have the land, peace, and bounty, but you won’t have me. And they recognized that having all God’s blessings without having God himself would be disastrous.

A little later Moses says to the Lord:

“If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (15-16)

It is the presence of the Lord that makes Christians distinct.

Not the fact that we go to church, or believe in God, or help the poor, or educate our children in some particular way, or have particular political views.  We are not distinct because we don’t use drugs or curse or watch certain kinds of movies.  We are distinct from all the peoples of the earth because we have the very presence of God with us, and because we have the distinct good news of God’s grace through Jesus.

Let’s praise God for the blessing of his presence with us. Of all the blessings we could have, there is none like this. If we have Jesus we have all the riches of God.  Let’s ask Jesus to manifest his presence through the Holy Spirit in our churches and lives.

May it be the presence of Jesus that makes us distinct.  If he doesn’t show up in our meetings, it won’t matter if we have the best worship, the nicest building, the most articulate messages.  Every time we get together on Sunday or Care Group or in other contexts, may we say “Surely God is in this place.”

Church Is Not A Spectator Sport

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Sometimes we can turn church into a spectator sport. A consumer sport. A “how will this help me?” sport. A “who will reach out to me today?” sport.

But church was never intended to be that way. Church is a full participation, full contact sport. God has given each one of us gifts of the Spirit. You have a manifestation of the Spirit that I do not have. I need the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you, and you need the gifts given to me. We can’t be half-hearted when it comes to participating in the life of the church.

You have a gift of encouragement – who will you minister to this Sunday? You have a gift a prophecy – who will you speak to this Sunday? You have a gift of generosity – who will you bless this Sunday? You have a gift of mercy – who will experience it this Sunday?

Please, don’t deprive me of your gifts!

Athletes, Artists, Bikers and Geeks

We must not expect all believers in Christ to be exactly like one another. We must not set down others as having no grace, because their experience does not entirely tally with our own. The sheep in the Lord’s flock have each their own peculiarities. The trees in the Lord’s garden are not all precisely alike…. There will be Martha’s and there will be Mary’s in the Church until the Lord comes again.~ J.C. Ryle via JC Ryle Quotes

I wouldn’t have chosen to hang out with most of the people in my church.

And they probably wouldn’t have wanted to hang out with me.

Before Jesus saved me I only hung out with cool people like me (I was very cool in my own eyes).  People who liked the Beatles and Bachman Turner Overdrive and Yes.  But after Jesus apprehended me I found myself hanging out with old people and ditch diggers and people who could read music and people who laughed at their own jokes that weren’t funny (actually I do that).

Our churches are conglomerations of sinners the Lord has saved and put together for the display of his glory.  Most of us wouldn’t have chosen to be together if it had been up to us.  We’re Martha’s and Mary’s. Athletes and artists.  Teachers and truck drivers. We wouldn’t have hung out together before Jesus saved us.  Sometimes I think, “Lord, what were you thinking when you stuck us together?”

But Jesus wouldn’t receive as much glory if we were all alike.

He displays his glory when those who wouldn’t naturally choose to be together love and serve one another.  When they prefer and honor and look to the interests of those who aren’t like themselves.  When they forgive each other and work through their conflicts.

God receives glory when diverse folks have the affection of Christ for each other.  When those who have less are happy for those God gives more.  When those who’d normally avoid difficult people embrace them and receive them.

Jesus said the sign we’re truly disciples is love for one another.
Let’s work and pray and do all we can to allow not a single breach in our relationships.  Is there anyone in your church you don’t like or don’t want to be around?  Anyone you wouldn’t want to sit with at a picnic or wedding reception?  Anyone you wouldn’t want to have coffee with?  Pray that God will give you the affection of Christ for them.  Go to them next Sunday and ask how they’re doing.  Pray for them.

I want people who come to our church to say, “See how they love one another – I want in on this.”
As a pastor, there are few things I desire more than that we’d abound and overflow in love.  I don’t care if we have a cool building or the best worship team or the best coffee bar.  I care about our relationships.  (Let’s love one another AT the best coffee bar).

Sometimes, as pastor, I almost feel like the dad of a big family.  It grieves me when any of the “kids” aren’t getting along. I really can’t stand it when there are relational breaches.  And nothing brings me more joy than seeing the family loving and working things out together.

Anyone come to your mind as you read this?

Anyone you need to forgive, go to, work things out with?  If so, determine to take care of it quickly.  Go out for coffee with them. Have them over.  Go to them next Sunday and see how they’re doing.
Jesus is saving people from every tribe, tongue, race and culture.  Computer geeks and bikers.  Drama majors and football players.  Opera lovers (yes there is grace to love them – JUST KIDDING) and country music lovers.  People with accents unlike ours.  People who don’t look like us.  Or smell like us.  Or think the same things are funny we do.  People with problems and quirks and needs and sins.  People we wouldn’t choose to be with.

Do you have any stories of diverse folks loving each other?  Any stories of how God has moved you to love someone unlike you?