Tuesday, October 8, 2019

EMBRACING OUR TRUE IDENTITY


1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

                I have a small pitcher that usually sits in a prominent place, in a china cabinet, in our home. It has a faded picture of Falmouth, England on one side. The glaze is cracked from age. On the bottom of the pitcher is a small piece of tape. On the tape is written “For David” in shaky handwriting. If I took this pitcher to an antique dealer, he would tell me that it is of little value, but it is of great value to me. The reason for its value is because it belonged to my grandmother. It had belonged to her grandmother before her, and she had brought it with her from England to America. Finally, she lovingly passed it on to me. Its value is not wrapped up in what it is, but in whose it was.

                Many of us struggle with our sense of self-worth. We live in a society that has done everything it can to artificially boost the self-image of people. Yet many people see it for what it really is; a fa├žade. When they look in the mirror, they still question their value. There is a hollow place in their soul that all of the pats on the back and participation ribbons can never fill.

                I understand what it means to have a poor self-image. I struggled with my self-image for many years. What changed that for me was understanding that my value is not wrapped up in my looks or my abilities, but is found in my relationship with Christ. For me, it was one thing to know that intellectually and a completely different thing to embrace it fully.

                Peter wrote to a group of people who were struggling with their identity. Because of the circumstances of their lives they were discouraged. Peter took their eyes off of their circumstances by reminding them of their true identity in Christ. Peter’s ancient words can be a great encouragement to us as we struggle with our sense of worth.

                In Christ, we have been chosen by God. Do you remember what it was like in school to not be chosen, or to be the last one chosen. When I was in high school, we put on a musical every year. Every year I would try out for a speaking part in the musical. Every year I would make the call backs. And every year I would not be chosen for one of the speaking parts. I had to settle for being in the chorus.

                For many years, I felt like I was spiritually trying out for some place in God’s kingdom. But I never felt good enough or worthy, so I just tried harder. One day, I realized that I can stop trying to impress God. Through placing my faith in Jesus, I was already chosen. Something I could never earn on my own was given to me freely. God had chosen me for His team. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

                In Christ, we have significance. No one wants to be insignificant. We spend a great deal of our lives trying to prove our significance to others. The harder we try, the more illusive it becomes.

                Peter reminds us that, in Christ, our lives are of great significance. As a royal priesthood, we are bridge builders between God and people, between heaven and earth. We have been given a significant role to play in our world. We are Christ’s ambassadors, representing Christ and inviting others to join us. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

                In Christ, we are unique in our world. It is ironic that in our attempts to be unique from a worldly perspective we conform to be just like everyone else. This is most obvious in the world of fashion. An attempt is made to create something new and fresh, something unique. But soon, what started out as unique becomes commonplace. It can even become generic in a short amount of time.

                Peter tells us that we are a part of a holy nation. The term holy means to be set apart for special use. As followers of Christ, we have been set apart from the world to be truly unique. The exciting thing about this for me is that God does not make us cookie cutter versions of one another as the world does. He instead makes each of us unique in our own right. We are knit together through our faith in Christ, but we are each a unique masterpiece of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10)

                In Christ, we belong to someone special. Every human being has an innate desire to belong. We try to fulfill that longing in a multitude of ways. We join a sports team or a musical group. We join service clubs or social action committees. We are always looking for a place to fit in and to be accepted. Often in our efforts to be accepted, we will compromise our values to conform to the group.

                Peter reminds us that in Christ we belong to God. He has claimed us as His own. We have become His possession, a part of His family. He has placed His seal upon our lives, claiming us as His very own. We are no longer outsiders looking in. No matter what our circumstances or situation in life, our value is secure because we belong to the King of Kings. (1 John 3:1)

                When I was in high school, during my senior year, I finally earned my varsity letter. That was a huge deal for me. As soon as I was informed of this reality, I ordered a varsity jacket (which I still have). As soon as that jacket arrived, I wore it as much as possible. I wore it because it said that I belonged.

                Peter tells us that when we fully embrace our identity in Christ, we should eagerly display it for all to see. This is not an obligation or a duty. It is a privilege. It is something to be celebrated. The more that we embrace who we are in Christ, the more our lives will become a celebration of His love and grace.

1 Peter 2:10
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

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