At this week’s FCA, Matt Williams from Grace church shared with us what it is like to put our identity in God rather than worldly things. Matt talked about how it can be very easy for us to want to be a part of something bigger than us, and how that something bigger could be helping God carry out his plans on earth.
To guide us through what it looks like to be connected to heaven and earth at the same time, Matt broke down Ephesians 3:6-12. In Ephesians, we learn about how Paul brought together the Jews and Gentiles, two groups that hated each other, and help them share the gospel through the church.
In Ephesians 3:6 we discover that Gentiles and Jews hate each other and would always wonder how God could love the other as equally as he loved them. The Gentiles and Jews would struggle with questions like ‘How can a righteous, holy God reconcile his enemies and make them his sons?’ While this is a questions that many of us find ourselves asking, Paul describes to us in the rest of Ephesians 3 that God has the power to take people who hate the idea of the other and integrate them into the same eternal family where they share a special bond and love for the other.
What do we place our identity in?
“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ” (7-8)
Paul was given the opportunity to serve God through his grace which was a huge privilege considering the fact that he used to kill Christians, making him one of the least deserving of God’s grace in certain people’s eyes. Paul had to leave his job, something that he was good at, in order to follow God’s plan which was to create brothers and sisters in Jews and Gentiles.
In essence, what Paul was doing was showing the Jews and Gentiles to lose their identity in what they call themselves, and start to see their identity as a Christian. When we come to Christ, we are losing our identities and becoming christians. This means that we no longer associate ourselves as southerners or Clemson Tigers or athletes, but rather as disciples of Christ. Our identity is bestowed on us by the creator and it is not something that we can earn or create on our own. We are created new when we come to him and no longer associate with all of our sins of the past.
How do we use our identity as Christians to support the church?
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (10-11)
God’s intention of creating the church was not to show those who go to church his mightiness, but to show those who stand on the outside of church and wonder why people go to church to learn about someone who is so mighty and the healers of all healers. God’s purpose for the church was to display his brilliance, wisdom and rich variety in the church. People do not get redeemed in the church to show church goers what they have overcome, but rather redemption is for the unseen people to look at and marvel in the power of what God can do.
How can our faith in God be seen in our identity?
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (12)
Since we have faith in who he is, we are able to be connected to this almighty community in which we can be bold in our identity. We have an identity that is larger than anything we could ever imagine of creating and as a community, we reflect God’s work and his purpose for us as disciples.
When sin entered the picture, we became a group of people who were scrabbling to be known. We, as humans, crave to be apart of something bigger than us and try everything we can to fill the void. When we try to fill this void, we create new identities. Everything that we try to make as our ‘new’ identity will break our soul and leave us alone. Nothing we can ever do in this world can bear the weight and expectations of our soul. We forget that the thing we are craving is the connection and relationship with God.
In summary, we are so quick to create a new identity in order to fill this empty void in our hearts, but the only thing we can do is accept God as our savior and have our identity reside in his plans for us. As christians, we are able to form a community that demonstrates to others how powerful God truly is.