Seeing Ourselves in His Image Part 3: Distortions & Truth
Living out our identity in Christ, the basis for our significance and worth
As we attempt to clear away these distortions of thinking patterns and replace them with truth, how else can we form our identity? If someone simply asked you to describe yourself, how would you go about answering? The answer to this question, whether accurate or inaccurate, impacts us daily. How you answer the question of who you are gives a strong clue to where you place your worth. Unfortunately, many people define their identities primarily by what they do. Therefore, their work equals their worth. Remember, that our ability to do changes drastically over time, while who we are in Christ is steady and constant.
At the beginning of each of his letters, Paul gave us a glimpse of how he defined his identity. Here are a few examples of his opening statements:
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;” Titus 1:1
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,” Romans 1:1
Paul expressed assurance that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. The word apostle means a delegate, an ambassador of the Gospel, a messenger, or one sent forth with orders. Later in his introduction to the Romans, Paul proclaimed, “among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). In Ephesians 1:6, Paul wrote, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Paul knew that he was called and accepted by Jesus Christ and that he was writing to others who were also called and accepted.
Paul received a very dramatic calling, but that should not lead us to believe that we need a blinding experience in order to place our identity and purpose in Christ. Rather, every believer is an ambassador for Christ.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
We can be an ambassador for Christ; not on our own merit, but because God made Jesus (who was completely sinless) to be sin for us so that we could receive the covering of God’s righteousness.
Paul expounds on this God-given calling in 2 Timothy 1:9.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9
God has saved us and has extended an invitation for us to be accepted into His family. It is clearly stated that because of God’s purpose and God’s grace that came through Christ Jesus, we can receive this calling and salvation. It is not our works; nothing we do or achieve can generate this gift. In addition, God’s grace was established before the world began, long before we were alive or able to do any sort of works. In fact, His grace has always been there for mankind to receive. Because of this amazing grace, we are empowered to do good works out of a heart of gratitude that leads us to desire to serve the Lord.
Paul expresses a sincere desire for people to come to understand the truth about their calling, the joy that is available to those who live out their calling, and the abundance of His work in those who are converted.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” Ephesians 1:18
So, if you are saved and called by God, what does that mean about you? How does that impact your day-to-day walk?
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” Ephesians 4:1
Our walk, which is our life, is to be consistent with our calling. Your calling includes being an ambassador for Christ, carrying His message everywhere you go. It impacts your role as parent, friend, family member, church member, etc. It impacts your life at home, in church, in the community. It may come in the form of teaching, praying, serving, etc.
In order to have your entire life consistent with your calling, seek to acknowledge God’s presence in every aspect of your life. Acknowledge Him when you wake up, as you prepare for the day, and as you go about your daily routine. Pray specifically for the grace to be able to acknowledge His presence and honor Him in everything. For example, try starting out your day with at least a few minutes between you and God alone. Strategically place reminders that will help direct your attention heavenward throughout your day. These reminders can be Scripture verses in your purse, on your refrigerator, inside a kitchen cupboard, or on your car dashboard. If you have children at home, memorize Scripture together and teach them to turn to God in prayer both when there is something to celebrate and when they need help. Instead of thinking that you should be able to be a perfect parent (which is black and white thinking!), you can rest in His presence as you daily seek His grace to be Christ-like as you go about your daily duties.
As you acknowledge God in your life, you will find that He has given you certain gifts and abilities that equip you for living out your calling. These unique gifts and abilities are part of God’s design for your life and are given to you to share His glory in a special way. When we are struggling with our ability to accept this truth, we need to remember that one of the key ways God equips us is through the availability of His grace and the strength of the body of believers in which we are involved.
You can reflect the light of God through your unique personality, behavior, gifts, abilities, and desires. These characteristics are given by God and are to be used for His glory. It is also through these characteristics that you form your identity. Rather than forming an identity based on others’ opinions or on an ever-changing social standard, you are one of God’s “very good” creations, created in Him and for Him. Your identity in Christ, based on God’s love and grace, is steady, faithful, and constant.
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For Further Information:
Apples of Gold
Author: Betty Huizenga
At the heart of Apples of Gold is the desire to touch the lives of women, young and old, by reviving the art of older women nurturing younger women.
Gifts of Gold
Author: Betty Huizenga
This book encourages and instructs older women who have been called to mentor younger women.