Who am I?

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After they won the silver medal in synchronized platform diving at the recent Olympics, David Boudia and Steele Johnson were interviewed by a reporter for NBC. They expressed their joy over winning the medal but they made clear it wasn’t the most important thing in their life. Their joy and and their sense of who they are was not determined by whether or not they won a medal.

Boudia spoke of how if he went into the competition thinking he was defined by his diving “then my mind goes crazy. But (Steele and I) both know that our identity is in Christ.” Johnson added, “The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ, and not what the result of this competition is, just gave me peace.”

They don’t believe that now they are people of worth because they have an Olympic medal. They weren’t going to think they were worthless if they failed to get a medal. They know they are people of value because they are loved by Jesus.

It is tempting to look to what we do and the results that come from our efforts to find our identity. Some look to their job to define who they are. They work hard hoping success in the workplace and praise from others will help them feel good about themselves. Some parents look to their children to give them identity. If their kids are doing well they feel like a success, but if the kids are struggling the parents get tempted to feel like failures. Others look to a talent or ability they have and feel like they have value because of what they can do.

What happens when you can no longer do what you used to do? When your hard work and best efforts don’t meet with success by the world’s standards, do you still have value? If you lose your job or lose the competition, do you lose your worth?

We can find identity in Christ. We have value because God made us, Jesus died for our sins and has saved us to be His. Our worth is not determined by what we do but by what God has done for us in Christ. Our identity isn’t based on whether people like us or not, but on the incredible truth that Jesus loves us. For that reason we can have peace, whether the world judges us to be a success or a failure.

The Bible says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (I Peter 2:9). That is who we are by faith in Christ. We can rest in who He says we are. Sometimes the world chooses us and says we’re worthy of a medal. Sometimes it looks at us as unwanted failures. But we’re chosen by God. We belong to Him.

In the Gospel he was inspired to write John did not identify himself by name but instead identified himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20). That’s how we get to identify ourselves: not primarily by what we do or by our success or failure. By faith in Jesus you can look in the mirror and say: “What makes me, me? Who am I? I’m one that Jesus loves.”

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Be Dangerous

 

According to recent news reports ISIS terrorists have put together a “kill list” of 15,000 Christian leaders they want to eliminate. I don’t have a death wish or anything, but if there is a list like that I’d kind of like to be on it. I’d like to be considered someone who is making a difference for Jesus, proclaiming His Word and pointing people to Christ. I’d like to be somebody who the forces of evil consider to be a threat to their efforts. I’m more interested in impacting lives for the Lord than just staying safe.

Erwin McManus decided to not just pray for his son to be kept safe. His son had been told about demons and it made him scared when it came time for bed. He pleaded, “Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” His father’s answer wasn’t the expected safety-first reply most parents would have probably given. “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” His son’s reply was, “All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.”

The Lord is not wanting us to be dangerous in the sense that we commit acts of violence. He wants us to be dangerous to the profits of pornographers by sharing about the real love that is found in Christ and causing their business to go down. He wants us to be dangerous to the cash flow of drug dealers by pointing people to the power of God and helping them to stop buying what the dealers are selling. He wants us to be dangerous to terrorists who try to entrap people in fear. We proclaim the good news that God is able and willing to protect us. “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. … If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent” (Psalm 91:5-6, 9-10).

We confidently let all those who oppose the cause of Christ know, we are not afraid to be put on their list. What is far more important is that, when we have faith in Jesus and His death for our sins and His resurrection from the dead, we are on God’s list of those who are saved. By faith in Christ we “are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

Because we know the One who is greater and able to keep us safe, we are not frantically searching for safety. We boldly go to the world with the good news that freedom from fear can be found in Jesus.

Jesus lets His followers know, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). But He doesn’t say, because you might be persecuted, go find a bunker and hide. Instead He says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). He sends us into a dangerous world with the promise of His protection. To the forces of evil that want to make people slaves to fear, we are dangerous as we tell people of the refuge they have in Jesus. To the forces of evil that want to keep people full of guilt and entrapped in their sin, we proclaim the good news that they can be set free and forgiven because of Jesus. To the forces of evil that try to intimidate we boldly declare that the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ reigns over all creation, now and forever, and because we know Him we are not afraid.

Some of us might hope we’re on the list of those considered dangerous by the forces of evil. Most importantly, by faith in Jesus we can know we’re on the list of those who are loved, saved, protected and cared for by the Almighty God.