If you were convinced God would have you sell your house and vehicles, then move to Ethiopia, what would you do? Please join us for adult Sunday school (9:00a in the chapel) to hear Dan and Judy Norman share about faith, uncertainty, and unexpected blessings in their missionary journey.
I’ve been reading a wonderful biography of Christopher Lasch, the 20th-century public intellectual who started out as a Socialist Progressive and ended up, well, Christopher Lasch. (He’s difficult to pigeon-hole.) Among many, many other things, Lasch argued that western democracies, by replacing family with public schools and Church with state institutions, had created a feeble, diminished “self.” That “self,” he said, needs to be constantly propped-up (and here he predicted social media) by “creating a grandiose self, inflated by the attentions of others.”
I find, as I’m reading, that Lasch explains my own childhood and early adulthood. I find, still, that I have a feeble “self,” and need to go to Christ frequently to remember who I am. In a day of lost souls, or any day for that matter, identity is no small thing. So, I took a shot at framing identity for us. Four points:
1. In a process that is for now a mystery, you were chosen by God before the world was formed (Eph 1:4), created for good works in Christ (Eph 2:10). God called you as his own treasured possession, not because of anything you had done, but simply because he loved you (Deut 7:6-7; Eph 1:4-5). Paul describes this entire process as being “predestined in love” (Eph 1:5). This is your fundamental and unchanging identity.
2. So while earthly life may be marked by affliction (2 Cor 4:17) and decay (4:16), you are nevertheless a new creation in Christ (5:17). This self or identity has both an inward and an outward orientation: while inwardly you have been given peace in Christ, reconciliation with the Father (5:18), outwardly you are also called to a ministry of reconciliation (5:18-20), which makes you an ambassador to a lost world (5:20).
3. Matters of earthly and heavenly identity being settled, all that remains is to forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead, pursuing the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Php 3.13ff). To live is Christ; to die is gain. This goal or mission is what you are working out with fear and trembling every day of your life (2:12), and it must be worked out; it’s never handed to us on a silver platter. Now you must run the race marked out before you, your eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2). When weary he strengthens you, when discouraged he comforts, when in despair he gives hope. This is what the resurrection means (1 Cor 15:42-43; 58).
4. When this life of “momentary affliction” is done, what waits for you is an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). This is a destiny that can neither be taken from you nor destroyed (1 Pet 1:3-5). In that place that Christ has gone ahead to prepare for you (Jn 14:2) gladness and joy will overtake you, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isa 51:11). All these things have been written down for your instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures you might have hope (Rom 15:4).
As the sun shines down on you this weekend (what a forecast after the last six weeks!), let it be a reminder of the Aaronic benediction from Numbers 6: he’s making his face to “shine upon you.” See you Sunday.