Friday, May 24, 2013

Identity

I spoke to our school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes yesterday morning. The seats were filled. Well, one seat was filled. Anyway, as I was preparing what I wanted to say, I was reminded of some of what God has been teaching me over the past few years.

Like most folks, I have always gained my identity and my sense of worth from the things I did, or didn't do in some cases. I was involved in sports at an early age, and by the time I entered high school I had turned into a pretty decent athlete. I had also been taught that, as a Christian, I was defined by what I did or didn't do and where I went or didn't go. As I entered my high school years, I more defined myself by the standards of my friends more than the standards of my church. Through college I was defined as a bit of a rebel, and also one who was training for "full time Christian work" (whatever that is). I began a career as a teacher and coach, and my identity became that. I was called "Coach," and I loved it. I was also teacher, athletic director, bus driver, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, deacon, and elder through the years. Add to that son, husband and father, and you can see that my identity was tied up in  a lot of things.

A few years ago, God decided it was time to change my identity. My job went away, so I was no longer a lot of the things I had been previously. I spent a few months driving a shuttle bus at an army base. This job gave me a lot of time to read, think, and pray. I did get a job in another school as an instructional assistant. Both parents passed away. After a time we left the church we had been in for fourteen years to help start a new church. So now I was a "church planter," so to speak. That lasted a couple of years and we formed a small fellowship with some folks out of that first group. In some ways, I was sort of a pastor, without the title. I was also a member of a community of faith. Those things became what I based my identity on. Within just a few months, that "church" crashed and burned, and with it went the idols I had set up. It was not a fun time.

Fast foward just over a year. We are now part of a community of faith where there is love and service that comes from hearts that have been changed by the Gospel. I am doing some teaching, and am coaching. I am still a husband and a father. But now, I realize that my identity, my self worth is not grounded in those things. The Father has taught me that my identity, the very core of who I am, is grounded in his love for me, and in what Christ has done for me. There are things I do. I teach a couple of Bible studies. I disciple others. I coach sports. I serve my wife as a husband, and I do what a father of grown up adults needs to do. However, that is not who I am.

I am a beloved child of the Ruler of all things. He is pleased with me. I am a co-heir with Christ of all the riches of eternity. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, I have died with Christ, but I live. It's not me that lives though. It is Jesus Christ living in me. I don't totally understand all the particulars of what that means theologically, but I do know that it means that my identity is in the King of Kings. No matter what happens, no matter what I do, that does not change. I can do all sorts of good things, or not. The fact remains that I am a child of God. Period. End of discussion.  

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