It's one thing to describe what it is to be a Christian, it is another to actually live out the truth of who and whose you are.
Most of us can pretty easily launch into a definition of what it is to be redeemed, to be bought at a price, to have our sins paid for, and to be a beloved child of the King...
...and then, if you are like me, we go throughout our days living like we don't know those things to be true.
This week, in Chapter 3 of Because He Loves Me, The Identity Gift, Elyse Fitzpatrick helps us to see, in practical ways, how having our identity IN Christ actually changes the way we view our daily lives.
Do you feel intolerant of others' mistakes that inconvenience you? Do you get angry when your children embarrass you with poor behavior? Do you feel sorry for yourself when your life/job/status/goal/dream is not met with success?
I've struggled with each of these...and found myself responding with either pride or self-condemnation. I have regularly looked indignantly at another's incompetence, measured myself based on my children's behavior, and allowed myself to feel entitled to more or better or greater, casting my worth and contentment at the mercy of my pride. Have you?
This is what Elyse says about it in this chapter:
"Our problem is that if we don't continually remind ourselves of how he has chosen, renamed, and remade us, the struggle to grow in Christian character will become nothing more than another attempt at self-improvement, and self-improvement always results in self-loathing or pride. Our Savior has declared that we are completely dependent upon him and what he accomplished for us, but in overconfidence we hastily run past his accomplishments and seek rest in our own." (pg. 55)
I think the most convicting verse from this chapter is the one at the start of the chapter- Colossians 3:4...
"When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
My biggest challenge in life is not my circumstances, it is that I don't recognize that HE IS MY LIFE. That He is all that truly matters...that all things are settled in the light of eternity.
"The gospel tells us that our new identity is found in Christ alone. But we forget that we are sinful and flawed and don't deserve respect. We also forget that we've been loved and welcomed by the only Person whose opinion really matters. We've forgotten God's love for us in the gospel. Our fundamental problem is not our history, our environment, our brain chemicals, or even our bad choices. Our problem is that we've got a functional identity that flies in the face of gospel truth. We've ignored and disregarded the fact that Christ has given us his identity: he is our life." (pg. 57)
So what do I make of all the things that get me worked up and frustrated? All the things that seem unfair in life? All the times I've felt disrespected or misunderstood? All the moments I wish I was a better version of myself?
"Our desire to be respected will end up where it belongs--on the ash heap with our pride--when we see that our former identity and reputation was utterly demolished on the cross. We've got nothing left to prove anymore; we deserve the death he died. We're sinners saved by grace alone; our children are sinners who will be saved by grace alone. It's his reputation, not ours, that matters. The hours and hours we've wasted in pride and hedonistic self-recrimination-- I can't believe I did THAT again!-- will be transformed into humble thanksgiving for the One who perfectly fulfilled every law and whose perfect record and standing are now ours, all to the praise of his glorious grace." (pg. 60)
I don't want to see myself and my life through the lens of my own efforts, do you? Of course not. Christ has made us new, given us a new identity, and that is enough. How do we know who we are in Christ? We find our through His Word. This week's chapter offered a host of wonderful Scripture references...look them up! Get into his Word and discover WHO you are...and live free IN that identity, friend.
Now let's talk about it...
1) In what ways do you forget the mercy and patience granted to your through the cross through your own impatience and intolerance of others?
2) What verse or verses in the end of the chapter struck you the most about your new identity in Christ?
3) How has your view of "bearing the name of Christ" changed through reading this chapter?
I'd love to hear your thoughts! You can do so in two ways...
*Leave a comment below, and feel free to discuss with others there!
*Write a blog post either answering these questions or with your own reactions to the chapter, and link up your blog post below! (Remember to add the title and url for the specific post and not your blog url and name. Thanks!)
And please grab this button if you are joining us so that others can find us here!
(It's not too late to read along. If you haven't purchased a copy of the book, you can do so here.)