Summary: Do we know who we are? With all of our hang-ups, challenges, gifts, warts and all, “THIS IS US!” Understanding our identity is essential for our health.
This Is US!
Pt. 1 - Blessed
Shakespeare in Hamlet said it like this, "This above all: to thine own self be true. The author of the Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, says something similar . . . “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” The secular world understands that identity is an important factor in one's well being. They call it self awareness. Knowing who you are becomes the ultimate goal because they understand that until you have a grasp of who you are that you will tend to flounder and wander through life with no real direction or fulfillment. Scripture certainly validates this principle. The account in which Jesus addresses Simon/Peter's identity certainly had a profound impact on the man and His life's direction. He spends the rest of his life living up to Jesus' call to be a "rock". You also know that there are a multitude of voices trying to push people to embrace different truths about identity and the result is mass confusion about who a person really is. I believe that same confusion has invaded the church because so many of us are uncertain about our identity. This keeps us from operating at the level of effectiveness, influence, and authority that is ours. I am thankful this morning that we don't have to be confused. We can go straight to the Author and Finisher of our faith and He very clearly speaks to us and informs of us about us. He takes time to point by point give us precise information about who we are and how we are to live. In essence when Jesus opens His mouth in the 2 1/2 chapters that we will examine over the next few weeks He is literally saying "This is us!" This is who we are.
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (Message)
Jesus says this is us . . . "Blessed!"
Here is the issue . . . Too many of us listen to and compare our situation with confidants, associates, societal standards, coworkers, and classmates. Or those same folks lend commentary to our current condition or status in life and subsequently we have entertained an idea that we aren't blessed. In fact, some of you have not only questioned your blessedness but you have even come to the conclusion that not only are we not blessed you are in fact cursed. Because of what is going on in my life financially, physically, emotionally I surely can't be who Jesus said I am.
Let's go back and look at what Jesus said and see if maybe He speaks to our current situation and yet He stills comes to the conclusion that we are blessed!
He says we are blessed even if . . .
We are at the end of our rope.
we have lost what is most dear to us.
we are content.
when we are hungry for God.
we are full of cares.
we are in the middle of conflict and try to play peace keeper.
we are persecuted.