Embracing Your Identity In Christ – Jeremiah 9:23-24
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Some Christians often feel rejected, unloved and unrecognized by others and God. In fact, this is a common state due to our darkened understanding (Ephesians 4:18). Unless we replace these feelings with the truth of our identity in Christ, we will have trouble.
Human beings naturally seek worth and value in what we accomplish and in how many people recognize us, but these never satisfy the human heart. Deriving value and worth from externals causes unhealthy motivations in our actions and work.
Many Christians, especially those working for God, believe that what they are doing in serving God is of no value. It’s insignificant, it isn’t affecting anybody, and it’s a waste of time. We’re tempted to quit, and multitudes do, cutting off what might have been.
Boast in the Lord
God invites us to stop evaluating ourselves using standards other than his. Our self-evaluation expresses itself in a variety of ways, largely depending on our personalities. For some, external measurements like numbers in meetings, converts, Twitter followers, Facebook likes or churches planted in an unreached ethnic group define their identity and value. For others, internal measurement such as perfectionism, self-criticism and busyness do.
The same love the Father has for Jesus, he has for us who have chosen to follow his son (John 17:20-23). This makes us of eternal values and worth, even if we never accomplish anything for him. He wants us to know this truth deep inside, not simply to believe it doctrinally.
Developing our identity in Jesus enables us to stop striving to obtain a sense of value and worth through external or internal standards. It frees us to be faithful even when it feels like we’re not influencing anyone.
Don’t burn out yourself for selfish reason. Burnout can be a result of overwork done in the wrong spirit, with the wrong motivation. Working hard is God’s will, and we do so from an identity rooted in Jesus, not to gain value from what we do for him. This protects us from unnecessary burnout.
Learn from the Cambridge Seven
The Cambridge seven are an inspiring example. Seven gifted students at Cambridge University in England during the 1880s chose to lay themselves down, answering the call to be God’s message bearers to China. Each forsook a promising career.
Several were famous athletes known throughout England. Instead of taking the well-worn path of selfish ambition, they denied themselves for the sake of Christ. They did not find their identity in worldly markers others vested in them but in obeying Jesus and following him. Their stunning example was used by God to provoke a generation of new message bearers in the late 1880s. The body of Christ needs such example again.
God is calling us to lay down our desires to be known and to receive praise from people. He is calling us to cease striving and manipulating for position and power, to surrender jealousy and envy toward other Christians. God doesn’t freely give his power to those clinging to self-promotion and self-preservation, but to those cultivating humility, meekness, and a servant spirit.
Header Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash