[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s preaching is from a series called “Living out our Identity in Christ”.
When people talk about Identity, from a worldly standpoint, what they’re trying to achieve is to obtain a right perspective about themselves and life in general. When they acquire the proper perspective, then that becomes their Identity for Life.
Most men in the world prefer living their lives like blind men – do what’s been asked to do, say what’s been asked to speak, believe what’s been asked to think – Commonly known as blind faith.
When I ask my colleagues in the office why they fast on particular days or follow Shravan, a festive season where they refrain from eating non-veg food, The typical answer I get is “I don’t know, I do it because my parents asked me to do it.”
About these group of men Oscar Wilde, the famous poet and playwriter said “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
But we also have some great and genius thinkers and philosophers who’ve tried questioning these blind faiths and have come up with their new perspective on life which they believed to be true and then built their Identity based on their view.
Buddha, born 480BC, the founder of Buddhism, after cutting himself off from the Hindu ritualistic belief system came up with his conclusion about life, He said “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s mind. If a man can control his mind, he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”
And to achieve that level of control, he decided to abstain himself from the world and its desires and live in lonely places to discover his self, which eventually became another religion.
In Hinduism it is believed that man takes multiple births through incarnation until his soul finds rest (or moksha), Buddha thought that by self-discovery and good virtue a man could stop the cycle of incarnation forever and attain nirvana (freedom from the cycle of rebirth). But how can we even know that his perfect life was good enough for him to help him achieving true moksha (or salvation)? There is no way.
And likewise, many others have their unique perspective on life upon which they built their lives.
For example :
- Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
- Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive
- Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive
- It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.
- Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
- Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life
In the midst of all these human perspectives, we have the Bible, the very words of creator God who is author of life itself in all forms, which I believe has the answer to all human quest, giving us the most accurate perspective of ourselves, about God and the world around us, also helping us define our true Identity.
Like for example, it is only the Bible that gives us an accurate picture of our human condition and shows us how incapable we are to do good and never sin. “None is righteous, no, not even one” – Romans 3:10
No matter how hard we try we can never get rid of our sinful nature by ourselves, no good works, no control over mind, no positive thinking can save us from our sinful self. Only God can.
Last Sunday Jinson reminded us our identity as one Chosen and Adopted by God, but he also helped us see how that translates into right living.
To know that In Christ, God chose us before the foundations of this world as holy and blameless in his sight and not based on the merits we earn for ourselves on this earth should translate into living humble lives in the sight of men & God, entirely depending on his mercy and grace.
To know that we are adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of his beloved son Jesus help us live responsibly by refraining from sin and other temptations.
Similarly today we will look at our Identity as one Accepted, Loved and Forgiven by God. And brothers and sisters, let me remind you that it is not enough for us to gain such knowledge and do nothing about it.
What we will learn today about ourselves is not a human perspective but a godly perspective.
We have to allow this knowledge to transform our thinking and help us live exemplary lives based on our true Identity so that the world can see what true transformation looks like and affirm to the fact that Christ is the only way, truth and Life.
I wish Buddha had the opportunity to see this godly perspective and to base his life on this Identity; there wouldn’t have been another religion.
1. We are Accepted
Galatians 3:27-28 – “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
All human quest will end when we eventually meet our creator God. There are only two eternal destinies a man can attain – eternal hell or eternal heaven.
The children of God whom He chose in Christ before the foundations of the world, the ones who responded to his call, put their faith in Jesus and his finished work on the cross for the penalty of our sins.
Our destiny is the Eternal Heaven, a place where God dwells.
And the most beautiful and liberating truth is that our acceptance in God is not based on whether we are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile.
We don’t have to be a Brahmin, or Shatriya, or a Shudra to have special favours with God. It doesn’t depend on the colour or our skin or the background of our people.
You don’t have to be a Malayalee or a Tamilian or a Punjabi for God to accept you. He has received us in his son Jesus JUST THE WAY WE ARE.
We don’t have to be disconnected from the world, live in lonely places, torture our bodies, seek self-discovery for God to accept us.
The only basis of God’s acceptance is our faith in his son Jesus – who has broken every diving wall amongst us and has united our hearts for His Glory.
And therefore our response to this knowledge should be Romans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Let us also not look and judge one another as the world does – based on colour, creed, language, seniority, wealth, health etc. Imagine how beautiful the world will be if we can accept other human beings just the way God accepts us.
2. We are Loved
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.
The world is craving for love. It’s like we’re born with an empty box in our soul that craves for love. When we are children we crave for love from our parents, when we are adults we crave for love from other humans.
And no matter how much love we may or may not experience in this life, that empty box was purposely created by God which only he can fill; only he can satisfy.
A famous author once quoted ” “What we all want, really, is to be loved. That craving drives our worst behavior.”
God’s love is so beautiful – Because of his great love, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.
Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39 ” For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our faithful response to this great love Jesus says in John 13:34 ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
3. We are Forgiven
Ephesians 1:7 – “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”
The other day a brother told me that almost everyone on the street of Mumbai looks like they are angry with someone. Parents are mad at their children, children are mad at their parents, bosses are mad at their employees, employees angry with their bosses, neighbors angry with each other, car owners angry with the rickshaw drivers, the rickshaw driver angry with the buses, the bus driver angry with the people on the street, people on the street angry with the government .. so on and so forth.
Forgiveness is the last thing on anybody’s mind.
Above all needs of human beings the greatest one is for us to seek forgiveness from God for our sins, our rebellion against the creator God.
And Ephesians 1:7 tells us that because of God’s grace and redemption displayed through Jesus blood he has forgiven us of all our sins – past, present and future.
His forgiveness towards us not a one-time affair but he continues to forgive us as often as we go to him, confess and repent of our sins. I think that’s the most refreshing thing to me as a Christian that I can anytime go to God and fall on his feet and plead for forgiveness and he will forgive me.
Our response to God’s Forgiveness is to forgive others just as he has forgiven us.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
I don’t know how often you sit down and count your spiritual blessings especially the identity you have received through Christ, of been accepted, loved and forgiven.
It is such a privilege to be called children of God and live our new Identity in Christ. Let us also be faithful in living out our new identity by accepting, loving and forgiving others, living our exemplary lives that honor our Father in heaven.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]