In What Do You Find Your Identity?

Identity

In what do you find your identity?  Your answer is important because your answer will inform your actions.

The Pharisees and Jesus

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees send their disciples along with the Herodians to trick Jesus. Approaching Jesus the group says,

Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” (Matt. 22:16b)

If you can’t tell, their flattering is false. Yet, there is some truth to it. Truth they are hoping to use against Jesus. Jesus is, as they say, unconcerned with the opinions of others. Jesus isn’t a politician who makes calculated political maneuvers or who holds back because of what other might think.

Jesus doesn’t do those things because Jesus doesn’t find His identity in the acceptance of others but in His relationship with the Father. As a result, He says and stands for the truth.

What We Should Do

Just like Jesus, we shouldn’t find our identity in the acceptance of others either. We shouldn’t be wrapped up in what others think about us. All that’s going to result in is us being let down.

Think about it. Our peers opinions changes as quickly as the weather. If we want their acceptance, we have to constantly win it by doing things of which they approve. That, however, is no way to live, especially if we are Christians.

You see, if we are constantly worried about the approval of others, we are more likely to equivocate on God’s Word – to act contrary to God’s will, and to cave when we should stand for the truth. So instead of trying to win the approval of our peers, the public, or even our own families, we should seek God’s acceptance.

The Sureness of God’s Acceptance

God’s acceptance is something we don’t ever have to be anxious about because it never changes. God’s acceptance never changes because it’s not based on our work, but on Jesus’ work.

You see, when we believe in Jesus as our Savior and repent of our sins to follow Him, Jesus’ work is attributed to us, so that when God looks down on us, He sees Jesus. He doesn’t see all the mistakes we have and will make. He doesn’t see our sin. Instead, He sees Jesus and the life He lived.

Conclusion

So instead of finding our identity in others, we should be like Jesus and find our identity in God. If we do, we will be more likely to stand for the truth.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see a correlation between identity, acceptance, and standing for the truth?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon: How should we think of authority?

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Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

Recently, an article of mine was published at Gospel Centered Discipleship. I want to highlight that article today on the blog, so you will have access to it. Here is how it begins:

America is a hard working nation. The average workweek is no longer 40 hours a week, but 50, 60, or even 70 hours a week. Why do we work so hard and for so long? We have been told no one is going to do it for us and so we operate under the mentality that we have to go out there and earn it ourselves. While that is partly true in the secular world, it is not true when it comes to salvation found in Christ. Sadly, many have applied this concept of ‘earning it yourself’ to Christian life. They live by the motto ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ If we do our part, then God will do his part. Even though that may sound right to our ears and in our culture, it is not true.

You can read the rest of my article here.

Resource

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X-Ray Questions: What do you think you need?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at what you think you need. You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(7) What do you think you need? What are your felt needs?

Questions 2 and 3 exposed your aims in terms of activity and pursuit. This question exposes your aims in terms of what you hope to receive, get, and keep. Felt needs are frequently taken as self-evident necessities to be acquired, not as deceptive slave-masters. Our culture of need reinforces the flesh’s instincts and habits. In most cases, a person’s felt needs are slang for idolatrous demands for love, understanding, a sense of being in control, affirmation, and achievement.

Understand

First, understand that your needs are already known by (Matt. 6:8-15) and taken care of by the Lord (Matt. 6:24-32).

Second, understand that our culture drives/reinforces these felt needs through both electronic (t.v., internet, and radio) and print (magazines, books, and photography) media.

Third, by reflecting on the things we think we need, we can gain a good understanding of the ways we are seeking love and affirmation from others. It also shows us what we think we need to control and/or achieve, in order to gain affirmation.

For instance, we may believe we need a new car, new clothing, a certain degree, job, apartment, etc, so we will be accepted and loved by others. Instead of finding our acceptance and love in our relationship with Christ, we are seeking acceptance and love from others through certain possessions that tell the world we are successful.

When we truly reflect on the reasons we desire the things mentioned above, we learn what we hope to, receive, get, and keep from buying a new car, new clothing, acquiring a certain degree, job, or apartment.

On the one hand, we may be seeking these things as a status symbol. On the other hand, we may be seeking these things for our own comfort and protection. When we seek these things for comfort or protection, we are seeking to control the universe, rather than subjecting ourselves to God’s rule. We forget God is in control that He alone is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

Repent

We should repent by realizing we do not need to manufacture a certain status that gains us acceptance, love, or affirmation from the world. As Christians, our status before God should be enough because through it we gain genuine and everlasting acceptance, love, and affirmation from God.

Through our belief in Christ, we are made sons of God. Our relationship with God is repaired, and we enjoy the love, mercy, grace, and acceptance of God through Christ. As a result, we should not desire, nor do we need, the acceptance of the world.

Scripture

Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider your felt needs: Matt. 6:8-15; 6:25-32; 1 Kings 3:5-14; all the prayers in the Bible express reoriented felt needs.

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net