2_Identity_Blog

THE GOSPEL LIFE (PART 2)

PART TWO – IDENTITY

The core struggle within the soul of every man or woman that has ever lived is that same lingering question, “WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?” Why are we here? I would argue that every religious or philosophical system has risen out of the attempt to answer this very question.

If we aren’t careful, this superficial question can often ignore a much deeper thought – “Who are we?” We will wrestle with this deeper question the rest of our lives, as it will drive us to either action or apathy until we die.

Man generally answers this exactly opposite from the Gospel. Left to his own devices, man derives his identity from what he does. Test this theory and see what happens. Ask someone to tell you their story – who they are – and really listen to what they say. They will almost invariably answer you by describing what they do for a living. In this response, their identity will always be tied not only to what they do but also to how well they do it. We are driven by our own performance and measure ourselves accordingly.

Oddly enough, this isn’t limited to the secular world. Every religious system in the history of the world with the exception of “true” Christianity is based on man’s ability to do more good than bad. The religious identity of each man is tied to his/her human performance based on a given set of standards or rules.

The Gospel is exactly opposite of this mindset. In the Gospel, we see that we are completely unable to do anything good. We are literally born in sin to sin. We see quickly that we can do nothing to change this. The Gospel is the good news that tells us that God loves us too much to see us stay in sin. This is why, before the foundation of the world, He planned to send His perfect Son to die the death we deserved and justify us by faith. He would make us clean and adopt us back into the family we lost through our own selfish rebellion. If this is true, it changes everything – especially our identity. In this truth, our identity precedes and defines our purpose. All of this shows that in the Gospel, we do what we do because of who we already are in Christ. I want to briefly explore two scriptural mandates. First, Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”

In the above verses, we see that we were created in the very image of God. Our first human identity is that of an image bearer of God. Imagine the worth in that statement – what if we really believed that? What if we really believed that we were created to exist in unity and harmony with our creator and to multiply His image throughout the earth? If we believed this, then our actions and purpose would be based on that true identity. The problem is that our sin has not only separated us from our Creator but has caused identity distortion in epidemic proportions. Not only do we no longer know who God is because of our separation from Him, we no longer know who we are. This has led to each of us seeking to find ourselves in a plethora of misinterpreted, self-centered, fruitless, destructive ways.

However, the Gospel reminds us that Jesus Christ came to redeem us, our identity, and therefore, our purpose. We see the culmination of this in great commission in Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We see above that we are to go and make disciples relying solely on our redeemed identity in Christ alone. At SC3, our mission statement is to “Know the Gospel, Connect in Gospel Relationships, and Live the Gospel in the World.” This mission is driven by our redeemed identities. In verse 19, we see that the mission is driven from Trinitarian identities we are now baptized into:

…IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER – WE ARE FAMILY (CONNECT)

We are adopted sons and daughters of the Father. We were formerly orphans and the Gospel reminds us that Jesus shed His blood so that we may be adopted into His family. Permanently! This identity liberates Connection in Gospel relationships as we love one another and show the world the reality of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

…AND OF THE SON – WE ARE DISCIPLES (KNOW)

We are learning followers of Jesus. He has called us to deny ourselves daily, leave our old life, and follow Him. This identity liberates us to Know the Gospel in a complete and intimate way. We gladly live so that we may know Christ and others may be discipled towards Him and in Him.

…AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – WE ARE MISSIONARIES (LIVE)

When Jesus left this earth, He called us to go into all the world and make disciples – to be the family of God together as missionaries. This identity liberates us to Live the Gospel out in a world that is lost and hopeless.

This post exists for you to understand this – the Gospel doesn’t tell us to try hard to experience family, to make disciples, and to act as missionaries. The Gospel actually tells us that through the work of Christ we are family, disciples, and missionaries. We don’t HAVE to live Gospel Identity lives. Instead, we GET to live these lives in joy and freedom.

This is what a Missional Community is – the family of God on mission to make disciples in everyday life.

Next week we’ll explore “What We Do – Our Mission.” With this future post, we will see how our gospel identities play into our everyday mission.

Please make sure to reference our Gospel Life diagram to help you get a handle on how Identity fits into the mission of the church (www.summitcrossing.org/about/vision/).

 

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About Mark Sellers
Mark the Antiblogger lives with his wife Staci in Madison, Alabama. Apart from his crusade to destroy all things blog he and his wife are in over their heads with Summit Crossing Community Church, a cool Christian community of believers. They have two precious adopted children, Andrew (Guatemala) and Ava (USA), that fill their days with excitement and joy. You can also find Mark's blogs on www.summitcrossing.org, and follow him on Twitter @dmarksellers.

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