- What is the most remarkable thing about you? Think it over. Chances are you’ve pinpointed something about you, a quality, or ability, or achievement that is near and dear to you. Probably so important that it has formed part of your identity.
- Our culture today is obsessed with looking inwards. In fact today most people would say that living a good life is finding self-fulfillment and expressing to the world who you are. That remarkable thing is probably part of your definition of who you are.
- Whatever this defining thing (or things) is, it also directs and guides you in the choices you make in life. And in many ways our life is the amalgamation of choices we make.
- Can you see where I’m going with this? How easy we fall into the pattern of being built up and formed by things other than God?
- In terms of identity, and how that shapes our lives, Paul makes a revealing declaration in his letter to the Galatians: Gal 2:20
- Here Paul is about to go into a contrast between living by faith versus living in self-righteousness, or having to prove ourselves. The reason Paul no longer has to prove himself is that Christ lives in him.
- Christ lives in us: What does that even mean?
- Simply put, when a person repents of a life rejecting God, and in faith believes that Jesus has died for their personal sin and brokenness then they are forgiven by God and enter into a new eternal relationship whereby the Spirit of Christ lives within and through them.
- This is a basic reality for believers of Christ, no matter how well they actually follow Christ. But it has serious implications for how we ought to live.
- Christ lives in us has 2 significant implications for us to consider today. 1 – our identity, 2 – how we ought to live.
- Identity: In the letter to the Galatians Paul is confronting the serious problem that many in the church have accepted Mosaic laws such as circumcision and kosher laws as a way of obtaining a righteous status before God. There were a lot of problems with this that are outside our focus today, but one problem is that it elevated individuals based on their own ability. It other words the source of this was pride – “look at me.”
- We do things like this all the time. We constantly find ways to elevate ourselves and say “look at me,” “look at how good I am at…,” When we do this though we are creating an identity for ourselves – “He’s a good…,” “She’s a loving…,” But the root of it all is self-glorification.
- It comes from as we said at the beginning, wanting to be seen, noticed, appreciated, special. Our obsession with ourselves, who we are, and getting noticed for it.
- But Paul in attacking this mentality, is making a huge distinction. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”
- Well, Paul is still very much alive. What we is saying is that his live isn’t really about him at all. The life he lives is not for his own advancement, fulfillment, recognition, but it is for Christ. The only way that effectively happens is because Paul identifies with Jesus. He is deeply rooted in his identity as a follower of Jesus, redeemed by God, that His life is lived to constantly point back to Jesus. Paul is saying “I am nothing, look to Jesus, He is the only remarkable thing about me.”
- How we should live: Who we are (or believe we are) directs the choices we make and how we live. So if our identity is Christ living in us and through us, we can quickly begin to realize that we should live as Jesus lived.
- Paul, writing this time in Romans, expounding more deeply on the same topic as his Galatian letter says: Romans 6:12-14
- Paul goes all out in explaining how through faith we have died to sin (died to the ways of the world), and now are to live the rest of our mortal lives dedicated to following God.
- We often immediately get caught up in this as a “don’t do this anymore” kind of passage. But if we are meant to be living for God, and Jesus shows us the way to do that, it’s far more than just “don’t do these bad things.” We are to use every waking hour to become more like Jesus in every way!
- This comes back full circle when we realize that finding our worth, value, or identity, in anything before we find it in Christ is actually sinful. Saying that my role, status, ability, or qualities, are more important than Christ within me is wrong!
- Why does this all matter in the scope of mission? Working backwards:
- We see clearly that Jesus’ life was spent spreading the good news of God and His salvation. This is a powerful, and non-negotiable, example of being “a weapon for righteousness”
- We can’t properly be engaged in mission like Jesus was if our identities are misaligned. Our priorities, goals, and outcomes will miss the mark.
- This isn’t to say that we wait until we have a certain level of spirituality before we can share the gospel. Instead we both root our identity in Christ and live out His life ourselves at the same time. They feed into one another. And by God’s grace He works in us while we follow Him to make this transformation real and effective.
- Our first call to action is prayer. Prayer is essential, but I think we often fail at it. All genuine prayer is good, but not all genuine prayer is enough. I think we make prayer a checklist kind of thing, throw up a couple needs to God quickly and then move on. At a certain point we need to move past the minimum 15 minutes-a-day prayer with God. We spend hours being sucked in and formed by the world around us and our own sin from within, we need to take those all the anti-God, anti-Gospel messages to God, dwell on who He is, and all the things that need to change in us to be more like Him. Ask yourself does your prayer life form you more and more into the mold of Jesus? If not then you need to develop your prayer life.
- Secondly, we walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Dallas Willard, a Christian thinker on the topic of spiritual disciplines said “Our most serious failure today is the inability to provide effective practical guidance as to how to live the life of Jesus.”
- Another way of looking at this is: Does your lifestyle look remarkable to non-believers because of Jesus? If I looked at how you live, the minutiae of your day, the way to spend time, organize and prioritize will I see something different than what the rest of the world is doing? We should see something different. When we follow Jesus, it’s not just being kind and loving, or pursuing justice, or calling out sin. There is so much more. If we live this new life for God, then that resets all of our priorities – how we spend our time and money, our little choices, not just our big ones. We ask what would Jesus spend His time, focus, and energy on today if He were in my shoes. Because in fact His Spirit is in our shoes today. As we seek to live Jesus’ life out for ourselves it further strengthens our identification with Him.
- As we grow in these two areas of identity and living, we will see the desire to open our lives to others and share the light of God with them will begin to come, it will flow and pour out of us because we will be ourselves brimming with the blessings of God’s goodness towards us.
There’s a little something for all of us here. This week let’s look inward: Firstly, ask God to uproot our sinful identities and root ourselves in our identity in Christ. Secondly, what activities can I add or change in my lifestyle to live more like Jesus would if He were in my shoes?