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Food for Thought - Spiritual Formation

Identity

To the One Whom Jesus Loves,

Do you know who you are? Who you really are? I am not referring to how you see yourself or how others see you, and I am certainly not talking about your vocation, role(s), or position. The identity that I am referring to is the person you were created by God to be “in Christ”. How you see yourself has great implications in your walk and relationship with God and with others. As you discover who you were created to be and are able to internalize that identity, you will enjoy great freedom, joy and profound satisfaction in your relationship with God.

Unfortunately, a good part of our identity comes from everything else and everyone else but God. The result is that we often have a tainted and damaged identity, which keeps us from experiencing the fullness of life that Jesus offers those who believe in Him, a fullness that flows from a life lived in harmony with who God uniquely created each of us to be.

Instead of living out of your true identity you most likely construct an identity (more accurately described as a façade), which you project to others. This identity/façade covers up the fragile person within (again, not your true self), seeking to protect you from further hurt and pain. This fragile inner identity is a result of interactions you have had with significant others in your life and how you have received the words, actions, and looks that were directed toward you or at you. Also the same damage can be done to you as a result of how you perceive words, actions and looks that were directed at others ( a sister, brother, parent, even strangers) by a significant other. Your father angrily tells your brother he is fat and you learn that you better not be fat

Many people carry deep within themselves identities that flow from words such as: you are stupid, ugly, lazy, no good, a sinner, worthless. Degrading images of yourself are the result of words hurled at you long ago and/or vile and evil acts committed against you and also can arise because you have seen/heard words hurled at you long ago and/or vile and evil acts committed against others. These words and acts have produced within you feelings of never measuring up, shame, insecurity, timidity and anger, all of which are feelings you direct against yourself.


These words, actions and images rattle around inside, speaking with cruel power, imprisoning you and keeping you from the fullness of life in Christ. But this is not who you are. As you have embraced and been embraced by God through Jesus, you have been born again. The radical nature of this “new birth” is seen in the words of Paul; “you are a new creation”. You are not the same. Your old identity, though still alive, is declared to be false, totally and unequivocally untrue. It is time for you to purposefully embrace your true identity in Christ, the identity that is in harmony with who you truly are. This identity is not one you merely put on, but rather one that emerges from deep within as a result of your cooperation with the work of God’s Spirit. This new identity is based on God’s work in creating and recreating you in Christ. It is solely dependent on God, and therefore your role, position, the words and actions of others (past, present, future), your age, looks and physical capabilities cannot, will not and shall not impact this identity. For this identity involves whom God has made you and declared you to be.


So what is this new identity? The greatest word picture of the new identity is found in Ephesians 2:10; “we are God’s workmanship”. Some translate this passage as, “we are God’s handiwork” or “we are God’s work of art”. I think these last two translations capture the nuance of the Greek word in this passage. The Greek word, when translated as workmanship, handiwork, or work of art, refers to God’s creative acts, as well as describing the product of an artisan. The Greek word used here is also where we get our word poem. Did you hear that? You are the masterpiece of God, a one of a kind, priceless, creation of God. You are God’s poem, a finely crafted articulation of God’s heart and soul. You are God’s work of art, a canvas colored with shades of God’s character, passions and love. This is who you are. And this will not change. As you walk with Jesus, it is important for you to hear His words deep within your heart and mind and to ponder them so they will mature and transform you within. God’s word has much to say regarding who you are, words like beloved, new creation, forgiven, chosen, child, saint, holy one, trophy of grace, and the list goes on and on.


It is vitally important to your ability to love God and love others for you to internalize your new identity in Christ, to own the fact that you are God’s masterpiece, God’s special work of art, God’s poem. I suggest you spend some time with each of these descriptors. What does it communicate to you regarding your identity? What is inside you that is enlivened by this truth? What is inside you that keeps you from embracing this truth? What internal messages speak against this new you? As words and thoughts arise within you that speak against the truth of who you are in Christ, take them captive and speak God’s truth in place of those false, destructive and imprisoning thoughts. “I am a new creation, forgiven and holy”, “I am the beloved of God and nothing can separate me from God’s love nor my new identity in Christ.” This will not be easy but it will be transforming and freeing.

After you have spent some time with the word pictures above, go through the list below and focus your attention on the additional descriptors of your identity.

Which ones excite you, encourage you, strengthen you? Why? Meditate on those.

Which ones are hard for you to receive? Why? Bring your struggles to God.

Matthew 5:13 I am the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:14 I am the light of the world.
John 1:12 I am a child of God (part of His family-see Romans 8.16).
John 15:1, 5 I am part of the true vine, a channel (branch) of His (Christ's) life.
John 15:15 I am Christ's friend.
John 15:16 I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.
Romans 8:14, 15 I am a child of God (God is spiritually my Father-see Galatians 3:26 and 4:6).
Romans 8:17 I am a joint-heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him.
1 Corinthians -3:16 I am a temple (home) of God and 6:19 His Spirit (His life) dwells in me.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am joined (united) to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member (part) of Christ's body (see Ephesians 5:30).
2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation (new person).
2 Corinthians 5:18,19 I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.
Galatians 3:26, 28 I am a son of God and one in Christ.
Galatians 4:6, 7 I am an heir of God since I am a son of God.
Ephesians 1:1 I am a saint (see I Corinthians 1:2, Philippians 1:1 and Colossians 1:2).

Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship (handiwork) created (born anew) in Christ to do His work that He planned beforehand that I should do.
Ephesians 2:19 I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God's people in His family.
Ephesians 4:24 I am righteous and holy.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven and seated in heaven right now.
Colossians 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:4 I am an expression of the life of Christ because he is my life.
Colossians 3:12 I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 I am a son of light and not of darkness.
Hebrews 3:1 I am holy brother, partaker of a heavenly calling.
Hebrews 3:14 I am a partaker of Christ ... I share in His life.
1 Peter 2:5 I am one of God's living stones and am being built up (in Christ) as a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:9, 10 I am a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession to proclaim the excellencies of Him,
1 Peter 2:11 I am an alien and stranger to this world I temporally live in.
1 John 3:1, 2 I am now a child of God. I will resemble Christ when He returns.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God, and the evil one (the devil) cannot touch me.

I am by the grace of God a new creation, a one of a kind masterpiece.


Together on the Journey;
Larry :)


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