“Pretty sure I had looked like an idiot. I’d totally talked way too much about that Netflix show on autism, and I shouldn’t have said that thing about house church. I also went on way too long about my kids….”
Some semblance of this mental monologue has gone through my head time and time again over the last few weeks. Moving to a new place will do that to you.
It’s one very long job interview. An interview for a house (those landlords have got to think your kids are going to be the kind of kids who never scuff walls doing parkour moves, don’t you know!), an interview for new friends, some friends for your kids…the list goes on. Starting over is not for the faint of heart.
Stripping it all away shows us just how much things like our job (the new boss doesn’t know what a hard worker I am yet, I just look like the slow person who doesn’t know his system!), our friends, and our church really shape our identity.
Getting Rid of Identity Christianese
I think I am not alone when I say that I’ve talked about my “Identity in Christ” and not thought much about how that affects my day to day life. Unfortunately that’s precisely because it doesn’t affect my day to day life! It’s almost become a Christianese phrase that has lost its true meaning. Sadly even things like our Believing friends and our incredible churches can slip into the identity category far above who I am in Jesus.
The reason for this maybe because I often consider my “identity” to be what *I* bring to the table. But in truth, our identity in Christ is based solely in who HE is!
We tend to not even notice it in our Christian culture, but we’ll talk more about what church we attend, what ministry organization we belong to, what really cool (in other ministry circles that is, wink wink) guy has discipled us, far, far more quickly then we talk about Jesus.
Recently I listened to the entire book of John in one day. I had never done that before: Read/listened to all of the Gospel of John all in one pretty large chunk. I did it while I drove to and from my kids schools and the grocery market, while I put together IKEA furniture and while I made dinner. And over and over again I saw the theme of people grumbling, muttering, explaining and whisper in awe “Who is this guy?!
They were annoyed because He didn’t come from a cool place (Who comes from Galilee?!? Definitely not the king of the Jews!1), they grumbled because he hadn’t studied under a cool guy (He’s unlearned!2) and they were incredibly ticked that He didn’t follow the church rules (healing on the sabbath?!? NOT OK.3). All the typical identity structure boxes of man left unchecked.
Jesus based his identity solely and completely in the Father. As I listened to Jesus’ responses, the way Jesus dealt with those who came asking Him for healing, food, answers to their burning questions He always pointed to the Father, He always led with Love, He always stuck to His purpose. Maybe it’s because I was getting lost on some German road for the fourth time while I listened to John’s account of Jesus, but I was brought to tears (not over the getting lost thing) over the beauty of Christ. He’s not just our Savior! He’s there to point us to what an Identity based completely in the Lord looks like. The beauty of how unmoveable, how unflappable, undistractable He was faced with the World.
He Always Pointed to The Father
Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” 4 and we see this woven through all that He did and said.
Sometimes it was said it out right 5, but my favorite example of this is in His beautiful prayer to the Father in John 17.
All His words show such intimacy with the Father the Father’s purposes (more on that to come). But in my humaness it’s probably not his Words necessarily that show this particular point about Jesus. It’s His actions.
His actions never seem to be dictated by man, but to do more of His father’s Will. Even when he’s receiving praise it says that “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” 6. When I went back and thought more about some of his miracles like the healing of the Gentile woman’s daughter or even turning water into wine for his mother, that seemed at first glance that he was affected by “man” but even in those instances, it was all wrapped up in His purpose, His pointing to the Father’s glorious purpose.
We Can Point To Him
How wonderful that we too can grasp hold of our own identity as it is wrapped up in Jesus. I’m tempted to just quote all of John 15 to you now, but instead I’ll just remind us all of a few important lines there: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 7 and also “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” 9
Here we see the beautiful promise of our own Identity in Christ! Now go read it in context for yourself! Which will bring you to that last quote in verse 9 that leads us on to Jesus’ great purpose and ours too: “ My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 10
There we have it. Identity leading beautiful into action, into purpose.
He Always Stuck to His Purpose
Jesus never once waivered from His purpose. He came to show us Salvation. He came to be Salvation. In every word that He spoke, in every one of His miracles and sermons. He was showing us that He was the only One who fit the description of a Savior, both God and Man. 11
And then He did it, He laid down His life for us all.
Jesus’ lived and died in His purpose.
A Purpose Worth Sticking To
Ah, and then comes our purpose. What a comfort to know I have one. And don’t let the world confuse you and tell you it has something to do with “success.” Success in parenting, in marriage, in work, in ministry. The work for us has already been done. Our purpose is once again spelled out for us in John 15. To be tied to Jesus: Point to Him, bear fruit for Him, glorify him, lay down our lives for Him. It kind of puts all my own worries about new friends in ridiculous perspective! Whatever worries and frets have replaced your own identity may they be replaced with new found reminder of who you are in Christ Jesus.
Not everyone has the “luxury” that I have of having your life sort of “start over” in a new country. But we all have the opportunity and open invitation to re-center and re-focus on Jesus today. May I humbly suggest listening/reading the Gospel of John straight through in the largest chunks possible? You’ll re-fall in love with a Savior. You’ll see your Identity and ultimately find your purpose.
- John 7:41
- John 7:15
- John 5:6
- John 6:38
- John 1:38, John 4:34, John 5:30 and so many none John references!
- John 2:24
- John 15:5
- John 15:7[/efn] and this command: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” 8John 15:9
- John 15:12-14
- Here I’m mostly referring to the specific miracles that John chooses to focus on, the ones that prophecy pointed to as proof of the Messiah. But also so much of what He did and said pointed to what His death would do for us. Bind up the broken hearted, cover the shame, restore what is broken, feed that which is hungry etc. etc.