This is probably the most fundamental identity trait. If we were going through them in a logical order, instead of a quasi-alphabetic one, this should be the first. It is activated in a person’s life first, then all the others can be and will be activated.
Jesus was starting to prepare his disciples for the time when he must leave them. There are three thins he tells them as part of this preparation.
- If we love Jesus, we obey him.
If he is not there to give us direction, it will not matter. We will still have what he told us. And its essence does not change. Its practice may need to be tweaked, because of cultural or historic changes. Giving is one of Jesus’ commands. The Twelve had this command. We have this command. However, the Twelve did not have the option of using a credit card.
- Another Helper
“Turn left at the big oak tree. Which oak did he mean? This one? Or that one?”
Certainly, our Father knew this. So, he made provision for this. Jesus can’t be here, with each of us, so the Father sends someone who can. He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. The spirit guides each one, teaches each one, and give 100% of his attention to each one. And his input is !00% individually tailored to meet our individual needs, passions and destiny.
- A Radical Identification with Christ
The last thing he tells the disciples about is “Radical Identification.” After the resurrection, they understand that Jesus has a place in the God-head, they have a place in him and he has a place in then.
“He has a place in the God-head.” God is a bit more complicated than everyone thinks. Everyone imagines this all-powerful being usually in the form of a man. Well, the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
“He has a place in them.” This is another reference to “Another Helper.” As Jesus and the Holy Spirit both have places in the God-head, they have the same heart, the same focus, the same goals, priorities and values. Father, Son and Spirit are completely united in all things. To have the Spirit is just like having Jesus.
“We have a place in him.” This is the crux of being in Christ. The root of our new identity is a direct result of have a place in Christ.
- We are placed in Christ. Therefore, everything that happens to him, happens to us.
- He was punished for sin. Our sin was punished.
- He died to the law. We died to the law.
- He was buried. He rose. We were buried and rose with him.
- He was seated at the Father’s right hand. We were seated.
We are place in Jesus, so he might be our substitute.
- God’s Perspective
When god looks at us, he sees us through Jesus-colored glasses. He sees us. He sees our failures. He sees our lacks. But he sees them in light of how Jesus affected our lives.
If we have given our allegiance to Jesus, he see that Jesus’ sacrifice has:
- Given us right standing with the Father.
- Declared God’s righteous judgment against our sin as satisfied.
- Brought us into his family.
- De-fanged the law in our case.
- Put us on the path of restoration.
- Allowed the Spirit to reside in our hearts.
- Changed our spiritual DNA so that all these identities are ours.
And because the Father sees us this way, he treats us this way. He does not think of us in terms of punishing our sins. They have already been punished. They have been nailed to the cross … past, present and future.
As I have pointed out before, he is very seriously concerned with how we live. He is looking to restore the image of Christ in us. He intends to restore us to live out our original design. God’s aim is not punishing sin in his children, but reclaiming his family and restoring his children.
This does not mean that God will ignore sin. It means his heart focus is on this restoration project.
Being in Christ means being immersed in the environment God has created for this restoration. It means being a recipient of God’s attention. It means being a willing participant of God’s plan and process, because we chose to follow God and his ways.
- Living Our Lives
If God sees me with Christ-colored glasses, I need to see myself with Christ-colored glasses. If God treats me as though all these identities are true, then I need to treat me as though all these identities are true.
If I have given my allegiance to Jesus, if I have entrusted my world to Jesus, God puts me into Christ. All these identities come true for me, when I am in Christ.
First, if I don't see these as my identities, I am calling something false, that God says is true.
Second, I am not going to live the way God wants me to live.
Most basic to living as God has designed us to live is the acceptance of certain "facts:"
- There is a God.
- This God has a particular character, which gives him particular goals, motivations, values and priorities.
- God created and designed people. Meaning he has particular motivations, attitudes and actions for them, that result in optimal living.
- People sinned. Sin broke the system God created.
- God has a plan to restore the system and the relationships that sin broke.
- God put his plan into action
And that's where we are today ... in the middle of God's plan.
Many people in God's family have a hard time believing what God says is true, because of experiences they have had, or things they have been taught.
For example, our concept of what fatherhood means is caught. We had experiences with our fathers. So, the way our father interacted with us, and treated us, is the way all fathers are. Including our heavenly Father.
If our father is aloof and uncommunicative, then God is aloof and uncommunicative. If our father is critical, demeaning and abusive, the God is critical, demeaning and abusive. No matter how often the church tells us "God is love," the image that we caught of our father growing up, is always super-imposed over the image of our heavenly Father. Or we see the Father through father-colored glasses.
Fortunately for us, this too is part of God's restoration project. God does want honesty, and wants us to see our fathers truly. But he also wants us to see and know our Father truly, and to distinguish our Father from our father. They are different people. The see us differently and treat us differently.
And there seems to be a correlation in Scripture between seeing and being. We cannot live the way God wants us to live, unless we see what that is. Unless we see that it is possible. We cannot love, unless we see what love is. (For many people, love = sex. And that is far from the truth.) We cannot focus our hearts on the Father, unless we see who he truly is. We cannot become who God wants, and who he designed us to be, unless we see who that is. We cannot be who God designed us to be, if we are unsure in our relationship and our identity with the Father. Our hearts will be given to trying to satisfy God with who we were, when he is already satisfied. We will have no time or energy to enjoy, grow in or express the relationship we have with him.