Whose are you?

Whose are you?

The Question Posed

Are we conservative? Or Christian? Are we liberal/progressive? Or are we Christian? Are we conservative Christians? Liberal Christians? Which comes first? The world wants to know. When you identify as a follower of Christ, the main contention with the world hinges on where we fall politically. We ask silly questions of where Jesus would fall on this issue or that issue… We claim moral superiority based on which political leaning we cling to – but not due to the Words of the Lord. So, I ask again, whose are you? Which identity would most define you?

For some of you reading you may immediately answer “Christian, duh! I believe in the Bible, and I believe that God is sovereign, and I believe that Christ is the only way to eternal salvation!” But I want to ask you to look closer – look at your heart, and how you live your life functionally… Whose. Are. You? Do you make decisions based on what your political leanings state are acceptable? Do you make friends, and enemies, based on how they believe the nation’s Congress works with the POTUS? Do you find yourself quoting politicians, or knowing their beliefs to a better degree than you know your Lord’s? When you do quote Scripture is it to back up a politician’s words or platform? OR, maybe a more pressing question could be, can you quote your favorite team’s stats to a better degree than you can quote passages of Living Water?

For many in this nation politics take over their essential identity. For others it is their favorite sport team (whether pro or college level – sometimes both!). Some identify by their dislikes more than their Savior. Others find identity in their sexuality – their uniqueness – their race/nationality –  their wealth – their self-approval/disapproval – their denomination… Brothers and sisters, we cannot make a living that way! Not a living that glorifies Christ, at least! We need to develop a “Gospel Identity.”

The Answer – Gospel Identity

Finding identity in the Gospel means that our life is shaped by the Truth found in Christ’s words. It means that our life is shaped by Christ, and not the other way around. THAT means you like a politician, or a song, or a celebrity, or any other thing BECAUSE that thing is pleasing to Christ (or at the very least not offensive to Him). What aspects of your life are not affected by the Truth of Christ? …the answer is none… None parts of your life are absent from Christ’s desire for you.

34c
I understand “none parts” isn’t grammatically correct

Christ asks for nothing short of all of us. When we find ourselves compelled by grace, we should find that our whole selves are compelled – not just those parts that are easy. Those easy parts would be our kind words, our gestures of kindness towards kind people, lending a hand when convenient – and the like… When Christ calls us “Come and die,” He calls our whole person. And that is not easy. Finding our identity in the Truth of the Gospel calls for a surprising life. But what would that life look like?

A surprising life, centered on an identity in Christ, is covered in the just love of He who gave us life. It oozes a sense of wonder at our place in life – bought by our Savior’s blood. It supersedes every other consideration you can think of (even when there are times that other things may overtake it). A surprising life centered in Christ is one that can be counter-cultural, while maintaining a humility found only in Him who gave us faith. A surprising life finds God’s truth everywhere, but knows that ultimately it resides in His Word given to us in Scripture. A surprising life is had by one that can love his neighbor, but not accept their life decisions – and that neighbor never feels judged. A surprising life, found through holding to a full and true identity in Christ, is in itself full, and needs no nourishment from the world.

This life is hard, Christ promised it would be when He told His followers “I came not to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34). A Gospel identity is very different than a conservative identity… or a progressively liberal identity… or a philanthropist identity… or a homosexual identity… or a black identity… A Gospel identity looks at what Christ said (I am the way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:), and what He did (the Pharisees asked why Christ dined with sinners – Matthew 9:11). We live a life centered on Gospel identity when we stand up for our belief in the truth of heterosexual marriage – marriage founded in God, not man. We life a Gospel identity life when we vote for a candidate that wishes to care for the poor by giving them a hand up (John 9:6), not a hand out (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We live a life with an identity centered on the Gospel when we choose to speak words of mercy or love rather than curse another man made in God’s image (James 3:10). Yet we continue living a life of Gospel identity when we call out a brother in sin (James 5:19-20).

A Gospel Identity should be one that is counter-cultural. It shouldn’t just be a “nice life,” a “kind life.” When we do good, our actions should point back to Christ, who saved us from certain damnation. We do that by living unapologetically for Him! When we do good, when we are praised – direct that praise back to Him, not yourself. If I can give any other encouragement: when you live with this mindset, you will make a difference. People will notice. It has happened to me multiple times at my jobs. Speak up about your faith – don’t hide it, don’t apologize for it. That is how you live a life of Gospel identity.

 

will apologize for this post though, it may seem rambling – or seem a little scatterbrained. I write this sitting in a coffee shop, my first time really writing with some distractions around me… So, I hope this post makes sense, and that you find it encouraging yet challenging as we enter a time inundated in politics and sports, and so many other things clammering for a spot in your identity.

 

God bless!

Identity in Christ (GARPY Lesson 1)

Just thought I’d post my lesson on identity in Christ from last night here if you wanted to read it! There may be some typos or sentences that don’t make full sense – but I’m copying what I wrote which was a lesson that sometimes I expected responses! So keep that in mind! Thanks!

“The Already But Not Yet Nature”
1John1:5-2-6 

“This is the message we have heard from Him, and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, We have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and His Truth is not in us. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of our unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only but for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the Truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him ; whoever says He abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”

Tell me what you already have learned about what it means to find identity in Christ. What have the Christians and Bobby, and Garison, brought to you? 

Who here can tell us the difference between justified and sanctified? … Being justified is to be cleared in the heavenly courts. We are all sinners here, from the fib to pornography, no one can outrun that truth. In fact, what does John tell us? If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We deceive even ourselves! And worse still, His Truth is not in us. What does that truth do for us? Why is His Truth abiding in us matter at all? Hopefully I will answer that tonight! But what about to be sanctified. What does that mean? Pulling from OT law, it is making something pure before God. The priest class was sanctified before The Lord so that they could serve Him fully. So? The difference? Any more takers? … Justification, for all intents and purposes, is a once in a lifetime thing. You are justified – made right before God – once, and never again. Sanctified though – that’s a process. But you know what else is a process? Finding your identity grounded solely in Christ. 

And so I ask again, what did we learn about identity in Christ? Our identity is to be found in Him, and Him alone. Not in what I did, what I do currently (whether for good or ill intent), and not what I will or will not do down the road. That would be to find identity in self – or idols – or things. In beliefs. In emotions or science. Christ is more than those things. He promises more than they ever could. Identity in Christ is faith. And faith not from our own will or power. It is a faith gifted to us by the Lord through His Spirit. Faith is to believe in that which you can’t see.Identity in Christ is assurance. What is assurance? Assurance is the knowledge that something WILL happen. It’s a positively connotated concept. Identity in Christ is remembrance. Remembrance in what He has done. Past tense. Completed. Finished. Nothing for you to add. Nothing you can ever take away. Remembrance on what He promised would come to you. Identity in Christ will take you FAR. 

So, if we have identity in Christ that must have implications on us now right? And if you have gotten anything from me teaching its this: what does it mean to me? Now? Where I am? The Word is living. The Word is timeless. Let’s look back at Scripture. Someone read, with gusto, 1:5-7 of 1 John. Fellowship, and walking with the Light!? What does that mean??

John Piper says this in his book “Living to magnify Christ is costly. That is not surprising. He was crucified. He was treated like a devil. And He calls us to follow Him.” …whoa… Let that sink in. How many times have we heard the passion story. We could probably sum it up in a few sentences. But how many of us would sum it up to bare full notice to what cost our identity left on our Savior? He died in a horrible way. Crucifixion is death by suffocation. He was considered by many to be a force of evil – mainly through false reading of Scripture. But Christ died for what reason? … He died to repair a relationship. Genesis tells us that the way was barred so none could return to the garden. That garden held something sacred – God Himself. He is holy. We are not. We cannot apologize and ask for forgiveness. We are still putrid with the stench of sin. God is too far off. But only God can bring us back. Hence Christ and His sacrifice. Sin is not a heavenly traffic violation. Sin is severing a relationship. How many of you have lost a friend. Not a break up. Or someone who was a study buddy. A true, honest to goodness friend. They are gone, not by death but by simple words or actions that killed that relationship. How easy is that to fix? Nearly impossible on our own – and we are still two sinful people. God is above sin, wholly above. Sin is a real problem. 

So, identity in Christ? Is it making a little more sense? Or have I made it worse? We are saved, justified, Christ has entered our hearts and is sanctifying us. But that isn’t easy. We broke a relationship with the Creator. He is attempting to fix it. Who here has sinned today? This isn’t rhetorical – my hand is up. While preparing to write this lesson sin crept up on me. Our identity is Christ. But John warns us that sin is ever present in our lives. Until sanctification is completed unto glorification we will battle sin. So how does Christ as identity play into that? 

We need to daily be seeking to have a stronger identity in Christ. This is a battle not easily won. But who fights for us? And what tools do we have to better battle? And do you – I – we – use those tools? Do we read His Word daily? Do we pray? Not just before meals, or games, or bed time… Do we attempt to talk to our Abba? Prayer is conversation with the Almighty. We can grow in our identity in Him if we grow to know Him better, and learn what He wants for us. Because He wants so much more than we can think of. And such different things than we can see. Are we reaching out? Living a life that is surprisingly different? Do our friends know we are a Christian? Team mates? Coworkers? I’ll finish more on that next week. But in closing, does our identity in Christ, in the One who freed us from death shape our lives… Or do our lives shape the way we experience Christ? That identity will grow and mature every day if we let Christ have His way. I am speaking to myself too. I am no Garison Taylor, and I’m sure he has someone that he looks to for spiritual growth, and so on up the ladder. Looking at those who have gone before us is great! I encourage you to know those older and wiser. But are we actively, lovingly seeking out Christ to fill our identity? I have some ways you can save in your phone to try a new. Maybe they can help you like they are beginning to help me. God is actively seeking to draw us closer to Him, and to create a stronger sense of Himself in us. To help us to walk in the light, as He is in the light. To abstain from sin, but to know we have an advocate in His Son. We just need to let that grace wash over us, over our sin, over our unrighteousness and be cleansed. 
Let me pray for us, and after I’d like to get some questions from yall on how to live a life with Christ as our identity that I will incorporate into the last lesson this year.