What Do I See When I Look at Me?
Pastor Ian reminds us of our true identity in Christ and issues us a Grace Challenge.
For many years I assessed myself by my failures. I would constantly revisit past, self-inflicted disappointments, which would then frame my expectations for my potential by cultivating a heart-shrinking resistance to risk. I became averse to attempts of anything that might require my very best efforts because I was fearful that my best wouldn’t be enough. I knew that my fragile sense of self could not sustain even one more failure. Giving less than my best became my favourite addiction. The chorus of my personal Fight Song was: I wasn’t really trying anyway.
I suspect that all of us have a tendency to judge ourselves by the product of our work, and by the way others judge it.
- Students learn to judge themselves by their test results. This tendency is affirmed by the schools they get into and by the jobs they land.
- Mothers have learned to judge themselves by the students they raise; by the behaviours that go on public display and yes, by their test results.
- Fathers have learned to judge themselves by their performance evaluations, their job promotions and by the clients they land.
- Pharisees judge themselves by the rules they’ve kept, by the work they’ve done, and by the sins they have avoided.
This is why all of us need to have our identities radically remade in Christ.
This Sunday, Pastor Eugene will be bringing us to Simon’s house in Luke 7, as this pharisee seeks to publicly celebrate his self-righteous identity. We will be surprised when a woman of the city; a sinner desperately in need of a new identity, crashes his celebratory meal. She carried with her an alabaster flask of ointment—a tool of her trade—which, because of its sweet aroma, advertised her presence as she walked by the men in her town. She broke it, poured it out on Jesus. And wept. In that moment a broken and stained street woman received what all of us need: a new identity, not defined by her work but defined by the work of Christ on her behalf.
As we prepare ourselves this week to hear God’s Word through God’s man, I would like to challenge us each to try something. Many of us are social distancing. A lot of us are working from home. This would be an excellent week for each of us to find some quiet, solitary place, to take a moment to recognise God’s presence, actively with us in that place, and then to look in a mirror and remind our hearts of our true identity in Christ. I would like to issue you a Grace Challenge; to look at the image staring back at you and to listen to yourself saying these words:
“I am forgiven” … not because my past or current performance has made me worthy of this. But because, while I was not looking for Him, His grace found me. And now as I confess my brokenness daily, He joyfully cleanses me and declares me “righteous" (1 Jn 1:9)!
“I have been adopted” … Amidst the billions of people on this planet, God saw me and came seeking me. He has called me His own, has given me a new name and has filled me with His Spirit as a guarantee of my inheritance (Eph 1:14).
“I have been reconciled” … Christ himself has paid the ransom to free me from bondage and make peace between me and a holy God. Because I have been reconciled with my Creator I am able to be reconciled with His creation (2 Cor 5:16-19).
“I am safe” … because I have become the object of God’s mercy, I can rest secure that I have become a part of His strong, ongoing and eternal work. I can have daily confidence that my identity comes not from my performance, but from Jesus’ sufficient work on Calvary (Rom 5:10-11)!
“I am deeply loved” … so that I also may love as He intended. No amount of personal history or poor performance can diminish His affection for me (Rom 8:37-39)!
“I am holy” … I am different. Really different. He has set me apart for His pleasure and for His purpose. This means I am more unique than I realise and I will never again feel completely home, until I am called home to Him. I’m not a stranger to Him. I am a citizen of His Kingdom. He has made me for this (Eph 2:19)!
“I am gifted” … Not that He has gifted me for praise or success or treasure in this world, but He has gifted me in unique ways to specifically store up treasure in my heavenly home. Treasure that is established as I seek His pleasure in my service to Him and to others (1 Pet 4:10-11).
And when you have completed this spiritual exercise, I pray that you will walk away with the same holy confidence with which that one-time woman of the city walked, knowing the fresh joy of being identified as a beloved child of the King!
Please help us in this anxious days know how we can continue to be the church to you. If you have need for prayer, please allow the Pastors and Elders the privilege of lifting you up in our daily prayer time. You can send your prayer requests to: https://tinyurl.com/pastoralprayer
If you have practical needs, please let us know by sending us a note at: email@example.com
On Saturday, May 9 at 3:30 pm, we will be Equiping ourselves with Truth for life as we explore our identity as men and women who have been created in God’s image. You may join this meeting on this link.