By Brock Bondurant
Ephesians 4:22-25 – to put off the old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
There are infinite things we use to identify ourselves. Occupation, stage of life, sexuality, enneagram type, etc. – all good things; titles that make us very uniquely us; labels that reflect the very beauty of a diverse God. But issue arises when we use any of these descriptions of who we are as our primary identity. In fact, anything that takes the place of Christ as our true identity is the sign of a misguided heart.
I know. For my whole life I let other factors determine who I was. I am: a quarterback, a straight ‘A’ student, an American, a Missouri Tiger, a bad friend, a sinner, a failure…
All of these things, good or bad, were not meant to take place of my identity in Christ. In fact, any of those things make a very poor God and rob me of the joy awaiting me as his son.
I’m stuck on caterpillars lately, so we’ll just keep rolling with it. As a butterfly, a caterpillar robs itself of its own joy and even robs the world when it subjects itself to an identity of anything less. Stealing and adapting the analogy of one of my spiritual mentors: if a butterfly saw itself as a tiger, it’d not only make a crappy tiger, but now it’s a crappy butterfly too.
So why am I bringing this up? Well, as we pursue transformation with the desire to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what he would do, we must first start by knowing our true identity.
Before launching into his 3 years of ministry that changed the world forever, Jesus had this moment:
And when he came up out of the water… a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:10-11
In the same way, God speaks over you and calls you his own. He washes us clean of the false-self that stuck to us for so long. Even the best titles we could endeavor pale in comparison with being made like Christ. What is “President of the United States” next to “Child of the God of the Universe”? Don’t get stuck in caterpillar mode even if yours comes with all the bells and whistles.
And your sin? Yeah… It can go too.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
We now have the privilege of no longer being known for anything else, but to be a child of God! And children get to share in the inheritance.
And that’s the Gospel. That I, no matter what I have used to describe myself in the past – all-state or chief of sinners – can now call myself a son. That is my true identity. When God looks at me, you, he sees his Son Jesus. The Jesus who lived the perfectly righteous life that we could not. He then gave himself up to the most inhumane and humiliating death we should have died, in order that we would get to trade our sin for his righteousness – our position as condemned to his position as Child of God. And he rose again so that we might one day rise again to take our position alongside him for eternity.
Before we seek transformation, advancing into our calling, we must first accept this free gift of grace. We must put off the old self in order to put on the new – Christ – and do the work of Jesus spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom to others who need to know that they aren’t just caterpillars; those who need to leave the crawling behind and rebirth to fly.
The way God sees us is who we truly are. God sees us as he sees Jesus – a righteous child. At the same time, we know that while on this earth we aren’t quite like him yet. This is why we participate in his lifestyle in order to grow more and more into his Image. To see who we’re becoming we must see who we really are: children of God.