Identity in Christ.
“Dad? How do you quit being a Christian?” my son asked, quizzically.
Bang! Epiphany! Out of the mouths of babes. (My son was ten at the time.)
We were at lunch after church services that Sunday, and I had been offended somehow by somebody after church was dismissed. In my frustration, I summed it up by saying, “I’m going to quit being a Christian!” After a mere one-year commitment I thought I was experienced.
I looked at my son, eyes widening, and laughed. “Yeah! Just how does somebody go about quitting being a Christian?” It struck me like lightning.
It’s what I am, not something I chose! It’s not a club you choose to join, it’s an identity to be accepted and embraced. So what does that mean? What is this identity?
Many scripture verses came to mind and I began studying the Bible to investigate just what this identity was. Who am I?
“Have I not chosen you?” (Jn. 6:70) I thought I chose him, but he set me straight on that.
“No one can come to me except the Father draw him.” (Jn.6: 44) “Draw” – the Greek verb ελκύω – to drag, wrest, pull, pluck, as by inward power, divine impulse. It’s a word fisherman also use to describe drawing a catch of fish in a net. Unless the Father impels, quickens, I wouldn’t come to Christ. I was called, drawn, inwardly. The Father “hounded” me to the Son.
Me? He came seeking me personally? Am I beginning to get a picture of a personal identity? That’s what further investigation confirms to me. He came seeking me out, personally. But why me? I was by far the least likely of all people I knew to be a “saint.” In fact some swore me off as reprobate and hell-bound. But read on:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5: 17) I, who had no identity, now have a brand new identity. A sure identity. And — I’m a new creation!
Being a new creation, having a new identity requires a new way of thinking – a new way of seeing myself and the world around me. I mean – don’t you think? I wouldn’t take off my old clothes and put on a new, tailored-for-me Loro Piana suit without seeing myself differently in the mirror; and a much improved mirror image it would be! (Oh, my! You look like a new person!) In a very real way, inwardly, I am a new person – but it’s not a new outward suit, it’s a real, genuine miracle done from the inside; and not done by me.
I’ve been reading and studying the Bible with questions in mind for thirty-five years now.
What is my identity in Christ? It’s Christ in me.
What is my responsibility in that? It’s to love him with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind – and to love my neighbor as myself.
Not much for him to ask, is it?
After all these years I’m still working at it – or rather he’s still working in me. He didn’t leave it all up to me, he’s been in it with me this whole time. “Never will I leave you nor forsake you.” He promises. And never, ever in my life has he broken a promise.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 john 4:19