Illustration results for Identity In Christ
Anyone see “Oprah” this past week?...I believe it was on Friday, Feb. 8.
The test tube babies of the 80’s have come of age...and Oprah had some of those young people on her show.
These children had no identity apart from a mother and were in a constant search for, not only there father, but for other siblings. They admitted with tears that there is a huge void inside that needs so desperately to be satisfied and they are willing to use all their energies to seek the truth.
These young people were consumed with the hope of learning their true identities.
One teenage child only knew he was from test tube #46.
One mother, when asked by her child –where their father was, explained that another man, who already had a family, was loving enough to donate and that made the child a “love child.”
We live in a land and among a people who have no idea...Not only who they are BUT where they came from
How in the world can we expect them to know where they are going?
Most are using all their energies to learn their true identities.
Well, there is good news for them, and for you...
for when someone introduces them to Jesus Christ, or for that fact...when you introduce anyone to Jesus Christ, he provides that person with their true identity, their true purpose in life.
You share Christ by imitating Christ. A story is told – by Fredrick Beuchner I believe – called “The Happy Hypocrite." It is a story about a man who was born with an awful facial deformity. He grew up alone and lonely. When reaching adulthood, he decided to move from his town to begin a new life. On his way he discovered a beautiful mask that fit his making him look handsome. At first the mask was uncomfortable and he was afraid that people would find out who he really was, but he continued to wear the mask everyday.
In his new hometown, he made many friends and fell in love. But one day a wicked woman from his old home came to his town and discovered this man’s true identity. In front of his friends and fiancé, she forced him to remove his mask. When he removed the mask, it revealed a handsome face. His face had conformed to the mask.
Becoming like Christ is analogous to this. Go ahead and put on Christ. At first it may feel unnatural or uncomfortable, and maybe you may think, “who am I trying to fool?” But everyday just keep putting on Christ and everyday you will grow to look more like him.
When you first met “J.E.”, you could tell he was a very angry man. In fact, at age 54 he’d been an angry person for many years. In a Bible study that night, many questions had been raised in his mind. Talking with the leader afterward, J.E. said, “I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 9 years old. But nobody ever taught me about who I am in Christ, that I’m accepted by God or that Christ lives in me.”
“What were you taught?” the Bible study leader asked.” “Where I grew up, we heard all the time about how perfect Christ was and about how we should learn to live like Him – if we didn’t, God would judge us.” J.E. went on, “It didn’t take me long, I’d say in my teen years, to figure out that I was never going to cut it. So I gave up trying. I guess I’ve been living in guilt and running from God ever since. Off and on through the years I tried to go back to church, but I just got more guilt piled on top of me. I’ve sat under so many teachers who made me fearful that I was afraid to turn in any direction because God was going to get me. This is the first Bible study I’ve ever attended that gave me any hope” J.E. concluded.
At that point, J.E. was 54 years old. That means, even though he had been born again through trusting Jesus Christ at a young age, he had spent at least 35 years running away from God. Tragically, his experience isn’t that unusual. Thousands of people who sincerely responded to the gospel message they were taught spend years thrashing around trying to make it work, but without success. In fact, I believe the reason so many Christians struggle in living the Christian life is their lack of understanding their Identity in Christ.
(This illustration came from the book "Growing in Grace" by Bob George pages 59-60)
REMEMBERING JOSEPH BAU--COMMUNION MEDITATION
When someone dies, we remember—we remember all the stories that filled their life. Last week a man named Joseph Bau died. It’s a name you probably don’t know, but a story worth hearing.
Joseph Bau was born on June 18, 1920, in Krakow, Poland. He became a young man just in time to experience the German invasion of Poland. He was one of three boys in a prosperous middle-class family that lived in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. Joseph had always been good at art, and at the age of 18, he enrolled in the University of Plastic Arts at Krakow.
But the war interrupted his studies. His family was forced to move to the Jewish Ghetto, and then later to the Plaschow concentration camp. Because of Joseph’s partial education in Art before the war, and because of his talent for Gothic lettering, the Nazis employed him in producing maps and signs for the camp.
Joseph’s job also enabled him to save more than 400 Jews by forging false documents and identity papers that secured their release from the camp. When asked after the war, why he did not forge documents for himself, he replied, “Then who would have done it for the other Jews?”
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, we hear a similar question, “He saved others; He cannot save himself?” And Jesus answers, “What shall ...
John Williams III
“A prison chaplain writes of a study in which he talked with twelve inmates in the penitentiary. He asked each “Why are you here?” The answers were instructive: “I was framed.” “They ganged up on me.” “It was a case of mistaken identity.” “The police had it in for me.” Not one said he was guilty of something. They were all innocent. An insurance adjuster said that he would estimate 90 percent of the people involved in automobile accidents see themselves as blameless”. (Emerson Colaw. Beliefs Of A United Methodist Christian. Nashville: Tidings, 1972, pp. 44 - 45). The truth is that there is no one who is without sin because we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is only one who is without sin because He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and His name is Jesus Christ (John 1:29)!
The real McCoy really wasn’t...
That is, the real McCoy wasn’t really a McCoy. His real name was Norman Selby. Raised on a farm in Indiana he left home around 1890, and after year in training, emerged as a boxer with the name "Kid McCoy."
In a day of bare fisted boxing, the Kid was something. He said he’d fight anyone, anywhere, and he did. For years he averaged a fight a month, and won most by knockouts. But the popularity of his reputation created an atmosphere where a host of imitation Kid McCoys soon cropped up - perhaps hoping to cash in on his reputation and the potential purses he would be offered.
That created a certain amount of confusion until “The Kid” agreed to a title fight with the legendary Joe Choynski on March 24, 1899. With that fight, “The Kid ended the confusion of his identity for all time. In a titanic slug-fest that cost him three broken ribs, Kid McCoy finished off the legendary Joe in the 20th round. After the fight, the San Francisco Examiner’s boxing writer declared, "Now You’ve SEEN The Real McCoy!"
All of you know that Anne is a stay at home mom...but did you also know that she has also held some pretty important positions here in Kentucky as well. I have to tell you she will probably accuse me of being a smart alec for saying this but I really mean it....she has taught an exercise class called "Stroller Fit"...she has represented and continues to represent a company called Juice Plus....but I think the most interesting thing she has done while we have lived here is a thing called Mystery shopping.
Now the basic premise behind this job is that you get paid to go and shop. It was right up her alley. Basically, the company she worked for would call her or email her with a store that they wanted her to go and check out. She had to go and evaluate the store and its staff on things like cleanliness, professionalism, knowledge and other things. The kicker, though, was that none of the employees or the manager knew what she was doing...hence the name Mystery shopping...pretty clever, huh? This way Anne could get and give the company that assigned her this task a good idea what was going on day in and day out in that company. She and the parent company would get a good idea about how that particular store and its staff treated their customers.
The really funny thing is that she kept doing the same store every month for about a year...and she never had to buy anything. It was also one of these stores that didn’t have any clothes for larger people....so I guess I could never shop there....but Anne always had to ask for something that they didn’t carry....like a larger size than they sold. Now..Anne is not a big girl so I don’t know how she got them to believe that she needed this particular size...but, if they had any employee retention at all...you would think they would catch on...something like here comes that red headed lady that is always wanting something 6 sizes larger then what she actually wears...either she is our mystery shopper evaluating us, she has amnesia, or she is the most persistent person on the face of the Earth.
Now, we’ve had a little bit of a laugh about this at our house over the past year or so...but...if they did catch on...or if Anne went in there with a big sign around her neck saying "Evaluator" on it...how do you think she would be treated? Do you think that it is fair to say that she might be treated a little bit better than she might ordinarily be treated? Even if the store staff is usually friendly and outgoing..don’t you think they would have stepped it up a little bit had they known?
The fact of the matter is...if we know who particular people are...if we are ever in the presence of "important" or powerful people...don’t we act just a little bit different? Or at least don’t some of us do that?
Another quick example for you....sometimes when I play golf I play alone and the folks who work at the golf course pair me up with some other guys to help the pace of play. Now, ladies, let me tell you, when a bunch of guys get together and they don’t know each other...one of the first questions that gets asked is "what do you do." It’s usually by the third hole that the conversation turns to our occupations. Men, as you probably know, take a lot of pride in their jobs and it becomes a large part of their identity. Now there have been some guys I have played with that every other word out of their mouth was of the four letter variety and every joke was filthy...and then the question gets asked...So, Mike, what do you do? Well, I am a pastor of a church....and most of the time you can just kind of see the color drain out of their faces....and the swear words and dirty jokes stop for the rest of the round. I have to admit...it’s pretty refreshing and it makes me a lot more comfortable...but I still find it a little bit amusing...their attitude toward me and the way they act toward me and around me changes dramatically when they find out my profession.
So, when we look at the birth of Christ through the eyes of the innkeeper...is it any wonder that Jesus was born in a barn? He was ordinary, he was average...there was no great announcements to the innkeeper...he had no idea that the eternal Logos was about to be born.
A GLIMPSE OF ME—COMMUNION MEDITATION
In Mel Gibson’s Movie, “The Passion of Christ” there is an obscure detail in the crucifixion scene that probably goes unnoticed by most people, but it is a detail that says so much.
When Jesus is being placed on the cross, the camera comes close to watch as a large spike is positioned in the middle of Jesus’ hand. Then, a mallet comes into focus, and a rugged hand swings it to drive the spike. Those are all things you expect to see.
But there is something you don’t see. You never see the face of the one who drives that nail. You never get a glimpse into the eyes, or heart of the one who so assuredly pounds away until the spike has passed through Jesus’ flesh and comes to rest in the wood of the cross.
You might be interested to know that the person who plays that role in the movie is the director himself, Mel Gibson. But why does he never show the face of the one who put Jesus on the cross? Why does he not give us the identity of the one who had the gall to put the Son of God to death?
He didn’t show us that face because that face was his. It was ours. We are the ones who put Jesus to death. It wasn’t the Romans. It wasn’t the Jews. It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 says: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all...
Jimmy Gupton tells of when he was 93 and ready to go on home to God. For the 1000th time, he had prayed for God to take him home. His wife had been gone for seven years, and it was getting harder and harder to go through the motions of the holiday. He had a big silver Christmas tree in the attic, but attaching the 150 branches was a big job and it was almost impossible for him to see the holes to insert the branches. So he had just left it in the attic, packed away fro several years. His family was pressing for him to move in with them but he just couldn't leave his home and lose his independence.
As he sat down and watched the news, he saw a story on the Salvation Army shelter in downtown Charlotte. There were over women sleeping in the shelter, "out of work and out of hope." Jimmy wanted to help but he didn't have much money. He turned off the lights, said his prayers and then climbed into bed. But instead of falling asleep, he kept seeing the women at the shelter. "Those women were needing help, just like me," he thought. And then an idea came into his head. What if two needy folks put their needs together? What if one of those women moved in and took care of the house in exchange for a place to live?
The next morning he called the shelter. They called back a few days later inquiring about a married couple, she a waitress and he a carpenter, and both had gotten laid off at the same time, evicted form their home and were sleeping at the shelter. Jimmy said, he hadn't counted on two people. It wasn't that big a house, and the room was barely big enough for one. But the counselor said, "I thought the wife could care for the house and the husband for the yard." "Send them over and we'll give it a try."
And try they did. As soon they were talking like only friends. It was nice to have someone care for the house and yard and cook the meals. They cared even enough to take him to the senior center and to church on Sundays.
About three months after they had come, Pam said she need to talk. Jimmy was worried that they were going to move out. Pam said, "I don't know how to say this. I know I should have told you from the beginning but I was afraid you wouldn't let us stay. But I can't put this off any longer. You see, I'm--I'm--going to have a baby."
Jimmy said, "Well you're right about one things, I certainly hadn't counted on three. But I can't put you back n the street, not with a baby coming." His mind was shouting, "A baby, where will we put a baby?" Pam said, I know there's not much room here, but if I move the dresser out of the bedroom , I'll have room for crib. I'll try to keep the baby quiet so as not to disturb you."
The months flew by, and Pam shifted the furniture in the bedroom to make room for a crib and then began to wallpaper and paint all over the house. And before he knew it, Sabrina was born and she grew to three months old, then to five months old and then it was the middle of December and almost Christmas again.
Jimmy was sitting in the living room reading the Christmas story out of the Gospel of Luke when he read, "...and laid him in a manger because there was not room for them in the inn." That must have saddened God, he thought. Even as crowded as the inn was, he knew that wasn't the point of the story. What God wanted far more than room at the inn was for people to open their hearts and make room for His Son. Perhaps that was what God had been trying to get him to do. While he had opened his house, maybe God wanted him to open his heart to them.
He walked over to the stairs and called to Tony and Pam. "Is something wrong?" "You bet," he said, it's almost Christmas and we don't have a tree up!" "We thought about that," Tony said, "but trees are so expensive." "Well I know a beautiful tree just waiting to be put up. When it's standing with colored light beaming across its silver branches, you never saw anything so beautiful." So Tony and Pam went up in the attic, got the tree and together all three of them put it together. When Jimmy turned on the lights, he heard the oohs and ahhs.
About that time, there was a hungry cry from upstairs. Pam went to go get Sabrina. When she came down, Jimmy motioned for the baby to free Pam up to go heat up a bottle. Sabrina sat in his lap just eyeing each other silently. He felt kind of awkward, because it had been a long time since he had held and talked to a child. Sabrina looked at him ,and Jimmy thought she might start to cry but instead she began to laugh and reached her little hand to his cheek. Jimmy laughed too as he realized she was trying to catch the lights from the tree reflecting off his face.
And then he writes, "...(in that moment) her touch made me think of another child, born on Christmas so many years ago. Tony was arranging candles in the window and Pam was humming a carol in the kitchen. And I whispered a prayer, 'Thank you Lord for letting me see another Christmas...for leaving me here though I fussed and fretted. Sometimes it takes a baby to remind an old man what your world is really about--in that one moment when Christ was born. Oh, Praise his name for that one moment!'"
From Tim Smith's Sermon "Born Identity"
In the book Life of Christ, the author on page 32 states the following about "The Great I Am":
We can see that John's aim is two-fold. On one-hand, he seeks to demonstrate that Jesus is "The Messiah, the Son of God." On the other, he wants people to know the true identity of Jesus, so that "you will have true life." When God commanded Moses to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Moses asked what God's name was. God replied, "Tell them that the Lord, whose name is 'I AM,' has sent you (Exodus 3:13-15). Jesus shows that he has been in God's plan from the beginning when he said: "Even before Abraham was, I was, and I am." (John 8:58).
In John's Gospel, Jesus uses the term "I am" to connect himself to aspects of God's nature and to identify himself as the one who:
* Supplies all needs
* Brings the knowledge about God to all people
* Is the way for people to find God and become God's people
* Promises that all who believe in him will have eternal life
* Invites everyone to share in the common life as the new people of God