For the believer, there will always be remembrance of our conversion experience and early years of our walk with Christ. For me, it is still as fresh in my mind as if it were only yesterday Jesus beckoned, “come, follow Me!” Along with memories of joy and thankfulness, however, there also lingers those early years of struggling with not only who I was, but whose I was. I can clearly recall a moment, in my first year as a believer, where I had been a resident within a Christ-centered program and carried along with me pride, selfishness, arrogance, and confusion, among other things. The confusion part was probably the most prevalent, as I had spent the first few months feeling like a bi-polar schizophrenic. Amidst my ups and downs, there were staff, and others who had gone through the program, to aid me in my journey in this new-found life in Christ. But it was one staff-member, in particular, that had said something that has stuck with me, even until now: “Troy, you’ve got to figure yourself out!”
I believe, this idea of “figuring myself out”, has been one of the most essential elements of my maturity as a Christian. In fact, if I am to be completely honest, I’d say I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t. This is where I have discovered that there are two important aspects of knowing our identity in Christ: who we are, and whose we are.
Who We Are
First, lets look at the outward reflection of who we are. So much of what we do today is done to project an image of who we are towards others. The cars, the clothes, the spouse, the job; its all for the acceptance of others, which, in the end, makes us feel better about ourselves. This is severely damaging towards our identity because this idea requires that we actualize these standards to achieve self-worth and self-satisfaction. When we fall short of such standards, we then feel inferior and much as if we have failed as people. This idea is combative to our being created in the image and the likeness of God, that is, we are created for Him, by Him, and like Him, so that every man and woman is someone special and unique, and no better than the next. When our outward projection of who we are aligns with an accurate reflection of who He is, we have, in part, discovered our identity.
Secondly, we must understand the inwardness of who we are. I frequently come across Christians (some of them pastors), who refuse to make mention of the fact that we are all sinners as sons of Adam, deserving of the wrath of God for our rebellious ways. This is a travesty, for how wonderful the gift of God in Christ Jesus is when we truly grasp the fundamental reason for His death upon the Cross: to satisfy the wrath of God, and save a wretch like you and I. This, above all else, exemplifies His love for you and I. When we diminish the importance of understanding our own sin nature, we diminish the importance of the Cross. Understanding our sin nature also helps us understand our actions and our thoughts in and of this world, prior to, and even during, our lives as Christians. We begin to realize that we were born under the curse of sin and our only hope for breaking the chains of its bondage is by and through the power of Christ.
At the same time, however, one could get so caught up in their own minds of how much of a wretched sinner they are, that they neglect to embrace the love and grace that is offered to us upon reconciling to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we must acknowledge that while we are sinners, we are also sons and daughters, a royal priesthood, friends of God and the righteousness of God that is in Him who died for us. This view allows us to walk in confidence, not cockiness, knowing that we are not the same crazy people we once were and that we are new creatures in Christ, with a new name. Some of the greatest potential to ever walk the face of this earth have abandoned their dreams and hopes of living a radical life for Him because the enemy, and their own flesh, deceived them into feeling guilty and ashamed of who they were. Remember who you are in Him; created in the image and the likeness of God, by God, and for God.
Whose You Are
When my wife and I fell into temptation and sinned by having sex before marriage, we received all sorts of discouraging responses. Everything from, “I told you they’d fall,” to “your child will be cursed and die like David in his sin with Bathsheba.” Not very Christ-like, to say the least. I, however, would never blame anyone for what we had brought upon ourselves and quite honestly, I’m thankful for what became of it. While truly repentant and sorrowful for what we had done and how we had disgraced His name, God did something amazing through our own sinful ugliness: like a rose from the concrete, the beauty of God’s grace shown through our transgressions and gave us a greater revelation of His love for us. In essence, we discovered whose we are. We discovered that nothing could separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, not even ourselves. Knowing whose you are helps you grow in His grace and love, even in the midst of being chastised. After all, God, indeed, chastises those He loves. Knowledge of whose we are also allows us to confess freely to God and to others, believing that God his faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We have a Great Advocate.
Knowing whose we are also helps us discover who we are as we begin to recognize a certain passion and gifting that more than likely ties into Gods unique calling and plan for our lives. It empowers us to live boldly in such a way that no matter what mortal man may say or do to us, we remain, as bold as lions, to carry out that which He has called us to do. Understanding whose we are by and through the way that He has equipped us brings purpose and meaning into our lives that is often absent within such a secular humanistic culture such as the world we live in today.
When you understand whose you are, you bank on the promises of God and you trust Him as a little boy trusts his father when he wants to go to the park; he doesn’t know the directions, or even the means by which they will get there, but he knows his father does, should only he lift his arms and trust in him. Knowing whose we are in Him, allows us to step out of the boat and into the raging waters, without fear or doubt, but confident that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. That is the beauty of the doctrine of Eternal Security; that our insecurities become security when we find ourselves secure in Him. To walk in faith is to flee from doubt and let the grace of God carry us from this life into the next.
I often think about the apostle Peter, and how that coward of a man denied our Lord, yet went on to boldly preach the Gospel and see thousands upon thousands of people saved by the power of the Cross. I guess the seemingly foolish wasn’t so foolish any longer as Peter, in regret and repentance, decided he’d care less about what others thought of him or who he followed, and finally figured himself out. We see people and we often label them as I did Peter by calling him a coward, however, God sees people and says: “You are the crown of my creation and the apple of my eye. You are my glory.” Imagine that? We are His glory! Despite our wretched sinfulness, God remains slow to wrath and abounding in love so that we may discover, by His grace, who we are, and whose we are in Him.