I Want To Follow Christ
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Richard Dietrich, a youth pastor friend, was leading a student mission trip to Poland years ago. Knowing that his wife had Polish ancestry, he decided to find the town where his wife was purportedly from, go to the city hall, and see if they could provide him with a family tree to take home as a keepsake for his wife. When Richard mentioned his wife’s family name, Prominitz, he was met with a shocking discovery for both himself and the city officials. It turns out, Richard’s wife is a direct descendant of the royal Von Prominitz family, who were thought to have been extinguished centuries before. The city officials began to apologize profusely to Richard, informing him that they had just recently sold his castle since they thought the family had long since disappeared. Now known in Poland as Count Dietrich, Richard has also been knighted Sir Richard! He and his family can have an audience with the President of Poland any time they wish. He has met with Poland’s Generals and religious leaders. When Richard walked into Zary City Hall that day, he had no idea who he was or what he owned: land, castles, treasures. Richard had no idea the opportunities and privileges his new identity would afford him. He can walk into any school or Catholic Church in the country and freely share his faith in Christ. Each year his family hosts the Von Prominitz Music Festival that draws hundreds of thousands to hear the uncompromising message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His new identity has turned out to be a big, big deal!
Do we know who we are? Do we know our true identity?
The Bible makes it clear. When we put our faith in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life, we are given a new identity. It’s a big, big deal! The Apostle Paul says:
“anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.”2 Corinthians 5:17
A new person. A spiritual infant. When we think of infants, what needs to happen for them to grow into full maturity. The discipling process begins with spiritual infancy and moves a person toward maturity, toward the ability to spiritually reproduce. In that infancy stage, the new believer needs to grasp some basic concepts. A few of those are: understanding their spiritual IDENTITY, learning how to WALK with God, learning how to TALK to God and about God, learning how to FEED themselves spiritually, and learning how to CLEAN up after they make a mess of their life spiritually. Sonlife has developed disciple-making conversation tools for each of these five foundational concepts: IDENTITY, WALK, TALK, FEED, CLEAN. Over the next five weeks, we’re going to introduce these basic discipling concepts.
The very foundation of a new believer’s spiritual life is their newfound IDENTITY in Christ. Like alignment on a vehicle, if a new believer is misaligned on their spiritual identity, it will create all kinds of problems on their spiritual journey. Our understanding of spiritual identity impacts the way we think, feel and act. Our understanding of spiritual identity impacts our relationships and life direction. Spiritual identity is foundational to everything.
When we adopted our daughter from Kenya, we moved to Nairobi for six months for the adoption process. She was only three at the time, and Mary-Faith didn’t speak any English. At that age, it was no surprise that she was quickly learning to speak English from interacting with her three older sisters. After living in Kenya for about three months, one day her older sister said to Mary-Faith, “You are such a cutie-pie!” Her reply was profound. “I is not a cutie-pie. I a Holliday!” Our family name. I interpreted Mary-Faith’s response essentially as, “I don’t know what a cutie-pie is, but I know who I am. I’m a Holliday. I’m a part of this family. I belong!” Identity matters!
Is there any doubt that our culture, that this generation, is wrestling with issues of identity. We’ve been created in the image of God. The persistent drive to redefine identity apart from the image of God we’ve been created in will always lead us into disappointment, disillusionment, and chaos. We’ve been created in the image of God. Then, we are re-created in the image of Christ. When it comes to our identity in Christ, it’s important that every new believer comes to understand both WHO they are and WHOSE they are.
Over and over again, Scripture details what it means to be “in Christ.”
In Christ, we are LOVED.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”1 John 3:1
In Christ, we are ACCEPTED..
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”Romans 8:1
In Him, we are INCLUDED.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,”Ephesians 1:13
In Christ, we are FORGIVEN..
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”Colossians 2:13-14
In Christ, we are FREE FROM ACCUSATION.
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”Colossians 1:22
In Christ, we are HOLY AND BLAMELESS.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”Ephesians 1:4
In Him, we are SPIRITUALLY ALIVE.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”Ephesians 2:4-5
In Christ, we are BROUGHT TO FULLNESS.
“and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”Colossians 2:10
In Christ, we are FREE.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”John 8:36
In Christ, we are a CHILD OF GOD.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—”John 1:12
In Christ, we are ADOPTED.
“he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—”Ephesians 1:5
In Christ, we are CHOSEN.
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”Ephesians 1:11
In Christ, we are a FRIEND OF GOD.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”John 15:13-15
In Christ, we are GOD’S HANDIWORK.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:10
In Christ, we are STRONG.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:13
In Christ, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”Romans 8:37
In Christ, we are AMBASSADORS OF RECONCILIATION.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”2 Corinthians 5:20
In Christ, we are SALT AND LIGHT IN THE WORLD.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”Matthew 5:13-15
In Christ, we are A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”1 Peter 2:9
In Christ, we are CONNECTED TO THE VINE (GOD).
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5
These are just a handful of the many truths Scripture provides about WHO we are and WHOSE we are when we are IN CHRIST. What are we to do with these basic truths about our spiritual IDENTITY?
- Study them.
- Pray through them.
- Meditate on them.
- Memorize them.
- Talk about them.
- Thank God for them.
- Remind ourselves of them.
Content from this blog first appeared in Sonlife’s 40 Days of Disciple-Making Journal.
Sonlife’s IDENTITY resource is available as a free discipling conversation tool.