We have begun to consider who God is and whether we want to enter a relationship with Him. But what difference will knowing God really make to my life? Can’t I exist without him? Maybe if I just carry on being me then things will work out? Maybe towards the end I can take the time to get to know God?
These were many of the thoughts I had when I began the journey to know God. I knew in my heart that Jesus is who He says he is; I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to change. I knew deep down that following Jesus would mean something in me needed to change, I couldn’t continue with the lies, the cheating, the overindulgence, the smoking, the swearing etc.
How is it even possible for me to change, it just seems a step too far to consider I could be different, a new me could exist!
I attempted to change my personality, maybe I would fit in better, maybe if I didn’t behave a certain way then I wouldn’t feel so useless or such a failure all the time. Nothing I seemed to turn my hand to ever worked out maybe I had nothing to offer maybe it was easier to do nothing then I couldn’t let anyone down.
The truth of the matter I loved being me it’s just no-one else seemed happy with me being me. I tried so hard to get everyone to like me, be interested in what they liked but this didn’t work either. What was wrong with me why didn’t anyone love me?
But my existence isn’t measured by how others love me, my existence isn’t to prove anything to anyone, it isn’t to find fulfilment in and of myself it is measured by who I am in Christ. Jesus loves me because he created me to be me, Jesus loves me because he chose to die on the cross for me, Jesus loves me because he does.
My sin is why he died on the cross it was his love that caused him to do it.
The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian church that he prays they will grasp how wide, how deep is the love of God for each of his children (Eph 3:1-21). It is beyond our ability to completely comprehend but in our limited understanding we can begin to see that God’s love for his creation, God’s love for his children is far greater and far reaching, it is our unwillingness to trust in God’s love for us that limits who we are and who he is calling us to be.
Daily we can choose to be limited by fear or allow Jesus to liberate us through his love.
How can Jesus choose to love us, how can Jesus willingly die on the cross even though he knows our sinfulness, these concepts don’t sit right with our own internal measure of right and wrong. We have an instinct that says you get what you deserve in this life but this is skewed thinking we need to learn to see ourselves and the world through the lens of who Jesus is not through who we are.
Jesus took the sin on himself so we don’t get what we deserve – this is certainly ‘Amazing Grace’.
In Genesis 1:26 we began to see that God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit this is the identity of God. He wants us to relate to him as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit. When we relate to God as Father we become the child, when we relate to Jesus as son we become the brother and when we relate to God as Holy Spirit we become born again through the blood of Christ who gave us a way back to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Our relationship with the trinity of God is what gives us our identity, the identity that God planned all along for us to have.
To understand this better we need to consider what does God mean when he says we are created in his image.
When we think of image we think of how we look in the mirror, how others view us or the images we see of supermodels in magazines or celebrities on TV.
The promise of this verse is that each and every one of us was created with God’s image implanted within us. There is a part of us which is made to seek out God because we are only complete when we reflect who he is.
Our true identity is only found within the truth of who God is, this takes us beyond who we are, our failings, our achievements, our desires; when we realise that in an of ourselves we are only empty vessels then we have room for the hope and filling that only Christ offers.
How liberating is this when we take the focus away from ourselves and set our hearts on Christ then we have hope, then we see the light, then we see our true potential.
Most of us are driven by something. Sometimes we are not quite sure why, but each of us is driven towards a goal; a bigger house; a better job, a better body, children, possessions. But these in and of themselves don’t bring the satisfaction we thought they would, so we find another goal.
But each time the goal seems pointless because it never brings the true satisfaction or the glorification that we so desired. This is why the bible says it is hard for the ‘rich’ to enter the kingdom of God, not because being rich excludes you but because being rich provides endless possibilities to continue to invest in yourself. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves and stop depending on self to rescue that we have room to consider who Christ is.
Whether we are rich or not many of us have a perfectionist attitude. This can come in different guises which makes it difficult to identify.
For years I thought of myself a lazy, I would only have the desire or energy to watch tv and when I watched tv I would snack. The typical couch potato! However, it has taken me many years to realise that it was my perfectionist attitude that was causing me to become numb. I had a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, if I’m going to fail anyway why bother? It’s safer just sitting here, there is no-one to judge you, no-one to expect anything from you, no-one to tell you that you are a failure, if I do nothing then I can’t fail. The realisation that we never achieve what we set out to do stops us from even trying.
The problem with perfectionism is that we have too high expectations of not only ourselves but also others. This causes us to live lives that try to control others, we become disappointed in their inability to care about us or their inability to have the same priorities.
We find it difficult to set realistic goals for ourselves and others, if we find that the task seems too easy we will shift our goal posts and make it impossible to achieve what we set out to do, in other words we self-sabotage.
In the area of overeating this becomes a bottomless pit of despair which causes us to give up.
Over the years I have come to see that my true identity is in Jesus. The person I was created to be like is Jesus. I need to learn to understand who He is, to learn to respond to others the way in which he responds, to learn to make decisions that would please him.
Nothing in this world will bring satisfaction; if we use the things of the world to give us an identity, we will always be left dissatisfied, eventually.
Our identity is in Christ not because we decided that, but because we were created to be like Him from the very beginning of time.
In Christ Alone
Intrinsic in every human being is the need to hope, the need to pursue and the need to find satisfaction.
Over the last three weeks I have seen first hand the power of hope in Christ alone, when everything else is striped away only then can true satisfaction be found, only then we truly know who we really are and why God created us to be the person he designed.
My husband’s aunt was admitted into a hospice three weeks ago, it was in these three weeks that I saw first hand the abundant life that Christ promises, the joy of the moment, the appreciation of God’s gifts, the savouring of tastes and wonders of God’s kingdom, the restoring and renewing of relationships, the reality and promise of eternal hope only found in Christ. I saw this lady in these three weeks truly live out what it is to be called a Christian, what it is to be not found wanting, what it is to have our identity completely fulfilled through Christ alone.
In these last three weeks God used this lady to use the testimony of her life to shine Jesus love for all his children into their hearts, to bring to them his hope and his purposes for not only herself but for those around her.
I have learnt much over these last three weeks but most of all I learnt to savour God’s precious gifts and be thankful; to share his love with others; to pursue him at all costs. We need to learn how to make the choices that need to be made and live the life that God calls us to live.
I have previously mentioned that I now live life accepting the freedom Christ has already provided however it is easy to get lost in that freedom and take it for granted. It is easy to turn the freedom Christ gives us as something to pursue rather than a result of the relationship we are in.
Freedom isn’t the reason we pursue Jesus but is the result of being in relationship with Him. If we pursue Him, to love Him, to obey Him, to see Him then these other things will be fruitful in our lives.
Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God then all these other things will be added unto you. What things; the things we need, we will never be in want because all we need is only found in Christ.
As an addict we want nothing else but to live in freedom from the trap of our sin but the reason we are an addict is that we have found the world wanting, there is nothing in the world that makes us feel better, that helps us make sense of what is happening to us. The reason we are an addict is we haven’t found what we are looking for but we are still seeking. Whatever we are addicted to gives us some comfort but only for a short time, in fact the comfort we are seeking never really comes that’s why we still pursue it.
When we fully give our lives back to Jesus, when we fully give our heart to Him, then it is Jesus himself that changes us, that reprioritises our lives, that gives us a heart to serve him by serving others, we begin to see others through his eyes, through his desire to draw others to the Father for all eternity.
Who does Jesus say we are?
Beloved, child, bride, friend, brother, saint…. Are we choosing to live in the light of who Jesus says we are or are we still choosing to live in the darkness of our past identity?