identity

The most formidable sin any of us will find lurking inside is all of our false identities. God urged the Israelites to not have any other god before him. This was no joke. Foreign gods ran rampant all around them. Yet they had the living God, who rescued them from Egypt and parted the Red Sea, dwelling among them in a pillar of fire and a cloud filling their tabernacle!!! One would think that their identities were surely set in stone - people of God.

via wallpapercreations

That's not what we see in the Scriptures, is it? We see them continually turning away from their Lord (my son would remind us that this is cycle of apostasy), pursuing a human king, worshipping idols, persecuting the Lord's prophets because they cannot see the sin in their own lives.

As a Christian, I can often judge the Israelites on their wandering hearts. Then when I look at my own heart, I can see it there, too. I set my identity in Christ...but is it in Him alone?

We are called to forsake all things for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:8 says, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." Jesus said in Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

This pandemic has threatened all of our identities. It has taken the spring sports seasons from athletes, the regular commutes and hours of employees - the jobs for others. Musicians and actors can't perform, students can't sit in their classrooms to learn, missionaries have had to leave the very people and countries they went to serve and love, pastors cannot teach face-to-face, teachers can't give the security for their students they want to give. People who were overwhelmed with their busy schedules find themselves stuck at home. Moms who had a routine down have had to overhaul it all and start from scratch.

How far have these things been rooted in your identity? Should they be your identity? Not according to Scripture. Are you counting these things as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as your Lord? Are these things rubbish to you?

I know this sounds so harsh and I've hesitated to post it. You're hurting and I understand. My life has been flipped upside down, too- I don't have downtime nap times, I don't have flexibility to go where I want, to exercise where I want or how I want, I can't visit my friends. No one is immune to this!!

But as we settle into a new routine, a new work day, letting go of the things we cannot control (which is so much all the time, but maybe now we are realizing it?) and accepting the things that are not to be, can we find hope? Is there hope in this?

YES! A resounding yes! The hope is this for those who are in Christ - our identities do not lie in the things we have, the things we do, even the gifts we have! Our hope is in Christ. No more, no less. Our hope lies in the empty tomb that comes on Sunday (truly every day, but you know what I mean this Holy Week).

When we identify with Christ alone, we know that this pandemic does not kill our spirit, does not kill who we are! We are still in Christ. We are still the church. He has still given us gifts to be used, albeit that will (not may) look different right now. The law is still fulfilled by love (Romans 13:8-10). We can still use our many gifts to love our neighbors.

Hospitality is not dead. It just may mean welcoming someone to a Zoom room instead of your living room. Or making bread and leaving it on the porch of an elderly neighbor. Encouragement is not dead. It just may mean writing letters instead of meeting for coffee or stopping by when you're driving for an errand and talking to a friend from a distance. Discipleship is not dead. Maybe that's meeting out the back of your car trunk, sitting 6 feet apart, or over FaceTime with shoddy connections. Teaching is not dead. It just may mean an Instagram post.

This season is not forever, so we need to not look at it as if it were. But there is a season for everything and right now, that season is to use your gifts. Be creative! If you're in Christ, you have the Creator dwelling in your heart, I know you can do this! This is the overflow of our identity in Christ!!

Now is the time to search your heart and take our those foreign identities and leave rooted the one that will last - Christ alone.

P.S. I also realized I bit off more than I can chew trying to write more than once a week on this blog. I'd love to say I can type out several posts to carry us through the week, but I have to be realistic in my goals. Emily P. Freeman just had a podcast about starting small, so that's what I need to do. I'm hoping for once a week.

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