Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Our Identity In Christ

Recently I have started reading through 1 Corinthians and found one passage jumped out at me as far as thinking about my identity. When I was in college I came in contact with a guy that was seemingly better than me at everything, and I mean everything. He was better at sports, speaking, reading, interacting with people,… you name it he did it and better than me. I felt I needed be validated, to find something I could be known for or best at. I found myself trying to even find just one area of my life in which I could be better than him to support my existence. I never did.
However, by God’s grace I did find something else out. My purpose in life is not to be the best or most well known person at something. My personhood, identity, and reason for existence are not wrapped up in my accomplishments. They will fail me. There will always be someone better than me. I am not on this planet to accomplish or be known for some grand thing. Rather, I am here for another and His exaltation. It was a humbling experience. From our very earliest age we are encourage to somewhat think of ourselves as great and the centers of our universe and it hurts to find out that simply is not true to how God made His world. Yet in this we can actually begin to find our truest hope, meaning, identity, and purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 states,
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
To state it bluntly, Paul is saying, most of you are not too bright, rather weak, nobodies. Not exactly an ego boost. However, from this we actually see the blessing of God choosing us in our lowliness to come to Him. Verses 29-31 go on in the passage to show us that God has intentionally chosen us as the lowly that we might be humble before Him and instead find our identity in Christ and His work that He ultimately be praised.
Rather than seeking to build ourselves up then, our job is to recognize our lowliness and build Christ up. This gives us great hope! Our abilities will degrade with age (Ecclesiastes 12:1-5). Our looks will fade over time (Proverbs 31:30). The next generation will overtake us in knowledge. If our hope and identity are in these things our purpose for existence will ultimately come to nothing. However, if our purpose is based in the eternal Christ than we can have joy as our lives fade like the grass of the field (1 Peter 1:24) knowing that ultimately we are here for Him and can be satisfied in how He chooses to use us on a daily basis. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10). He has always been great. I have always been nothing in comparison to Him. I simply get the privilege of recognizing this truth more and more over time and learning to rest all the more in Who He is and His great love toward me rather than my “accomplishments.”

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” – 2 Corinthians 4:7
“And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

May God continue to grow each of us in humility that He might be seen as greater by us and those around us!
Phil Smith