Monday, 17 January 2011

Who gave Christians their Identity and to what purpose?

Perhaps the question ‘who gave Christians their identity’ is to easy a question and everyone in the congregation would say ‘God gave us our identity’, and then you may ask, ‘but to what purpose?’ The congregation at this stage may pause a while to think and doubtless there would be different answers from the church. But which is correct? The bible illuminates with great gravity the answers to both of the questions asked above.

There are numerous passages in the bible that identifies what exactly our identity is but here we are to focus on two passages which speaks volumes of who we are in Christ, of who gave us this identity and what the ultimate purpose of our identity is. Some Christians may be struggling through a severe identity crisis. They may perhaps be trying to figure out their role in society, their role in the world, what is their status and their ultimate purpose. If you get your Identity right and truly know who you are in Christ Jesus, this will transform the way you live your life and your relationships.  The first passage which illuminates what our identity is in Christ is in Ephesians 1:3-14:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

We see in this passage that Christians are given their Identity by God the Father. He was the one who chose you before the foundation of the world before you was born, He chose you specifically and gave you an identity. The Identity He gave you is rooted and founded in His love for you and He establishes your identity in Jesus Christ His Son. Without the death of Jesus on the cross you would have no God given identity* but because Jesus died on the cross you are bestowed with the amazing Identity of  being chosen, of a son, redeemed, forgiven, blessed and God’s possession. Because you are a son, you inherit everything, because you are forgiven you can come into God’s presence at any time and because you are redeemed you belong to God. God the Father gave you your identity which is rooted in Jesus Christ and the chief purpose He gave you such an undeserving and amazing identity is so that you may be to the praise of His glory. You have your identity so now you are to live in it to praise God and glorify His name.

The second passage is found in 1 Peter 2:9-10:  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter explicitly declares the identity of a Christian and also affirms the solemn truth that Christians are a chosen people and God’s special possession.  Peter declares who the Christian is, the Christian is chosen, pitied (received mercy), God’s possession, Holy and a royal priesthood. We receive our identity from God and it was Him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. You are in the light of God and you can enjoy a sweet relationship with him because of your identity. God gave us our identity before the foundation of the world and when He calls us effectually (He calls his own sheep by name.. and his sheep will follow him because they know his voice, John 10:3-5) we respond and live in light of our new identity. Once again the reason why God gave us our identity is so that we may declare his praises. We are to declare the name of God, to worship Him and present him to our society, to our neighbours, to our enemies and to the world. When we live in the light of our identity, the world will indeed praise God and marvel at the grace in which He gave us.

Therefore, as a Christian, how are you to view yourself in a culture where self-concept and self-identity is daily discussed and dictated by the famous. It is easy to get lost in the frequent transformation but the Christian has a solid identity which is eternally fixed and we are to live our lives in this God given identity. Ultimately our identity is given to us firstly to relate to God and for his glory. Therefore we are chosen, forgiven, redeemed, sons and daughters,  blessed, a royal priesthood, pitied, Holy and God’s possession. God has done this for us, this is who you are now and nothing less. We are to make the excellencies of God to be known and to display who He is through our new found identity.


* It is to be said that all humans have a general Identity that is that we are all made in the image of God and therefore we are all important. Our lives have value and meaning but this image has been marred and twisted that we fail to reflect this image perfectly. God is doing a new work and if you are a Christian, this image has been restored and to a greater degree because we have been made like the 2nd Adam who is Jesus Christ.

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