Christian Life 

Who I am in Christ

In a world that is being shaken, the question of where our security resides comes under scrutiny. When the status quo is challenged it can reveal where our dependency truly lies; and constitute a threat to our very identity.

 


 first published 21/12/2011
 

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.."
 
The apostle Paul (Phil. 3:4-9)

 
 
Who I amPreamble

Who I am in Christ is the title of a book by Neil Anderson, and – although I haven’t read it – this is the theme of an article that has been rattling around in my head for many years. It’s something that I have been planning to write about for a long time, but it never quite arrived at the ‘top of the heap’. However two things have come into coincidence this morning which prodded me into getting down to the task.

The first ‘prod’ is the desire and ambition, as we move into a new year,  to publish an article (on quite a different subject) which needs to be preceded by this one (See footnote.) The second prompt was the arrival of the postman with a mailing from a friend a couple of days ago which included a very short extract  from Anderson’s book. (Sent incidentally with no knowledge of what had been going on in my head.)
So, with the clock now ticking towards a new year, here goes.

 

Who am I?

Having learned from psychologists, worked with a psychology graduate and led parent-support groups for some years I have come to learn, if I didn’t know already that “Who am I?” is the first and most fundamental of questions that arises in the human soul?

The question, shaped in the womb, is straightforward:
" Where did I come from? Who do I belong to? Who loves me? What am I worth?"
yet the answers, humanly-speaking, are complex. Amongst those who study these things, the respective but discrete influences of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ (our genes and our environment respectively) are, and will be debated until Kingdom come. Meanwhile time and time again, parents would say to me that the problem most afflicting their children was ‘lack of self-esteem’.

To travel some way towards addressing the question or our individual identity, we ask ourselves some other questions: “Where did I come from? Who do I belong to? Who loves me? What am I worth?” And in a sense this is where the trouble starts, as the answers to all of these questions are usually derived from our external environment – our surroundings sending ‘signals’ which are often distorted and based on human measures and attitudes.
A television advert some years ago spoke of ‘the clothes you wear; the people you’re seen with; the car you drive’, as defining the person. How sad.

Yet the search goes on. And in order to find some other answers to the question of ‘identity’, we might look at our blood-line, ancestry, parentage, gender, skin colour, intellectual ability, athletic prowess, looks, affinities, interests, etc.
 
Company men (and women)

Country singer Tennesse Ernie Ford used to sing a song about an American miner. The first verse reflects on ‘identity’:
“Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong.

The miner may consider himself poor and dim-witted, but he is, as Samson was, 'strong'. The chorus is a mix of melancholy, pragmatism and spirituality:
 
'You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.'
 
While the workman, in that last line, links his 'soul' to his employer in terms of debts,  there are many it would seem today whose self-image is bound up with their work; with personal  identity being wrapped up in our organisation (whether commercial, social or even religious), or our position in the pecking order and (the all-important) job title. For those who are employed within in largish organisations their ‘soul’, like the miner in the song, seems to be tied to the ‘company’.

I worked for many years within a large organisation. It was a good organisation, and generally operated in an efficient and effective manner. However like many organisations it also had its weaknesses. And this is where, in ‘coffee-break’ conversations, trouble could erupt. One employee could give voice to a valid criticism of the company (with which most others would agree). But there was sometimes one person (or another) who would suddenly get very upset with the critic and what was being said.
 
The root is insecurity...even in the church

It was most often the case that the angry colleague had his identity so bound up with the organisation for which he worked, that any criticism of  the company was perceived as an attack on the person; an assault on his self-image; a strike at his very being.  And of course the same can be found in other environments, including sport. It’s tribalism in the raw. But its root is insecurity.
 
And all of these dynamics concerning personal identity can be found within all spheres including the church(es):
  • party spirit (1 Cor 1:12)
  • status-seeking (3 John 9)
  • pride of position (Luke 20:46)
  • pride of learning (Matt 23:5 )
  • in size of following (2 Sam 24:1)
  • in achievement (Gen 11:4)
These things are manifest in all manner of ways which do not require keen powers of observation to identify. 

What makes this so very sad is when these things are apparent amongst those whose worth, status and security should lie in the knowledge – most importantly in the heart as well as the head – that Christ died for each and every one. That the answer to “Who I am” is that of being a blood-bought brother or sister of Christ, and a child of the living God; part of the royal priesthood of all believers; accepted and loved by the Lord and maker of all heaven and earth.
 
A summation of a summation

For the last three years our home has had to accommodate the reading material for a doctoral thesis in psychology. The books – in terms of weight and volume – have been mountainous. Pages running into tens of thousands; and words by the millions. The thesis - addressing just one facet of the human condition - ran to 35,000 words.

God wants you wholeYet allow me to copy (below) just 225 words from a Christian source and penned by a noted mental health physician. After fifty years of practice, dealing with all kinds of mental and emotional problems, Dr. James C. Fisher wrote:
 
I dreamed of writing a handbook that would be simple, practical, easy to understand, easy to follow. It would tell people how to live - what thoughts and attitudes and philosophies to cultivate, and what pitfalls to avoid in seeking mental health.

I attended every symposium it was possible for me to attend and took notes on the wise words of my colleagues who were leaders in their field. And quite by accident 1 discovered that such a work had been completed!
 
If you were to take the sum total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene -
if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage -
if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley,
and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets -

you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through the comparison.

 
The recently-published thesis entitled ‘It’s tough being a boy’ runs to 35,000 words, yet Jesus’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matt Chs. 5:1 – 7:29) consists of a (mere) 2,480 words. Of these, Dr. Fisher concluded:
 
For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here... rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum health and contentment.
 
--------------

The following is taken from the above-mentioned extract sent to me the other day. The text can also be found in a very helpful workbook entitled 'Steps to Freedom in Christ'.
Who I am in Christ

Who I am in Christ
 
I Am Accepted in Christ

I am God's child (John 1:12 )
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)
I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit  (1 Cor. 6:17)
I have been bought with a price; I belong to God  (1 Cor. 6:20)
I am a member of Christ's Body (1 Cor. 12:27)
I am a saint (Eph 1:1)
I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Col. 1:14)
I am complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)

I Am Secure in Christ

I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8:1,2)
I am assured that all things work together for good (Rom. 8:33,34)
I am free from any condemning charges against me (Rom 8:28)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35)
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)
I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1:6)
I am a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)
I can find grace and mercy in time of need (Heb. 4:16)
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18).

I Am Significant in Christ
 
I am the salt and light of the earth (|Matt. 5:13,14).
I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:1,5).
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit  (John 15:16).
I am a personal witness of Christ's I am God's temple (Acts 1:8).
I am a minister of reconciliation I am God's coworker (1 Cor. 3:16).
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (2 Cor. 5:17-20).
I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12).
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
 

Footnote:

EO picOffering everyone something somewhere with which to disagree.

 

I am hoping to embark in this new year approaching on a range of subjects which are, in my estimation, vital to the well-being of the body of Christ. Many of these subjects are of the ‘elephant in the room’ nature – recognised by all but 'buried' and unaddressed: as if the issues can be assigned to the cellar; the place where God doesn’t see (Ezek 8:12).

 

There could well be strong reactions from any who feel, like the company employees mentioned above, that to say anything contrary to the traditional  'norms' of particular backgrounds and settings is a threat to personal identity rather than a comment on the 'environment'.

 

So please pray that any responses to forthcoming articles on touchy subjects (watch this space) will be from a biblical base; and will avoid the reaction of the village elders who, in Gideon’s day, had their identity wrapped up in their idols (Judges 6:29-30).

 

Pray for us all that we will consistently see our security and indentity as fixed supremely ‘in Christ’.


The Editor, 19/02/2014

Feedback:
Peter Carr 01/01/2012 17:57
"What makes this so very sad is when these things are apparent amongst those whose worth, status and security should lie in the knowledge – most importantly in the heart as well as the head – that Christ died for each and every one"

I very recently was forced to overhear two Christian gentlemen in a very public situation (onboard a ferry), evidently having returned from a conference, discussing the merits of the Scottish equivalent of a denomination over the Northern Irish version.

The Scottish gentleman extolled his denomination with the following statement, "The Scottish ******** is ideal if you are connected to the right family, you do as you are told, and your face fits."

Sadly, I was not surprised to hear this statement in relation to that particular Christian denomination, having encounered some of their numbers over the years.

What saddened me about that perception, as true as it may be, is that in no way does it reflect God's Word or the Lord Jesus Christ that they claim to represent!

It would appear that this Christian gentleman, and maybe others like him, have no real understanding as to who they really are in Christ - how sad!!

Gal 2: 20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Alan Keely 09/01/2012 21:25
I will look forward to the discussions coming up Ed.

Both yourself, Ed, and, Peter, have brought a couple of things to mind, one from a long time ago and one as recent as my joining this site.

I worked for a company who had a contract with glasgow city council to provide a “break fix” for all their I.T. Equipment. One day I had to attend a call within the Council building in just a few minutes from George square.
I had just signed in and entered the lift when 2 council employees came in behind me having a good old laugh at something, and one said to the other
“Aye, it's true enough what they say eh?”
“Whits that” said the other, 1st guy “how many people work for GCC”, 2nd guy “aye go on”, 1st guy “about half!”

Many who claim to follow the Lord Jesus, are just like the folk these GCC employees were talking about, Turn up for worship and “clock in”, but won't be around for the Lord's work when they are supposed to be, but talk a good game, using the buzzwords frequently.

Having had my rant about the article on the cos Tain issue. A “friend” of mine has flagged this to an organisation that I volunteered too, (along with him), for them to “politically” prevent me from assisting them, just in-case it is perceived that my opinion is confused with theirs. It seems that some organisations that claim to do the Lord's work, do it so well, that the organisation becomes more important than the Lords work! Still, I know this friend is not the type I would require at the
“end of my rope”, yes Ed, he fails the rope test. Am I surprised, not a bit of it!

Matt 24:10-14
And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.
And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.
Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
Peter Carr 09/01/2012 21:50
Good to see you back Alan. Your post reminds me of the time that I visited a large (well healed church) during a break in the service the gentleman to my left asked me where I was from etc. When I told him, he asked me in a rather superior tone how big the congregation of the church where I am from is. I responded by saying that most of them are about 5' 6", with a few slightly taller!

He ignored me for the rest of the service. It is always interesting to know what really matters to some people!

Maybe if we focussed on what really matters in Christian/church life, we might be more effective!

It is interesting that Lord Jesus didn't seem too concerned about large congregations;

Matt 18: 20 "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Editor 10/01/2012 08:39
"well healed church" - a great thing to be :-)
But Peter can be forgiven the typo I'm sure.

However on a more serious note a question was asked (on another thread) about the disparity between attendances, in reducing numbers respectively, of Sunday morning, Sunday evening and mid-week prayer meeting.

Given that everyone has other commitments it is not surprising that numbers vary. However, one wag analysed it in this manner.

The attendance on Sunday morning speaks of how popular is the church.
Sunday evening numbers reflect the popularity of the preacher.
The mid-week prayer meeting is a measure of how much people look to God.


Peter Carr 10/01/2012 10:02
If only we and our churches were well healed!! How much The Lord wants to bring healing, and how much we want to be healed are 2 different things. Maybe some of us would rather be well heeled!!!

As to the ananlysis I would say that for too many Sunday morning is about religious duty, the evening and midweek reflect more spiritual hunger and maturity (right across the churches.
Editor 10/01/2012 10:18
Prayer is very important; and issues need to be addressed. But rather than divert this 'identity' thread onto that topic I will (now) pose a question in the (Open) debates section of the site.
AnneDroid 10/01/2012 12:06
Thanks, Ed, for posting that wonderful list of "Who I am in Christ" with all the Bible verses. I came across this same list for the first time yesterday in a book I didn't even know I had, and here it is again today! One of these lovely Godincidences that sends a chill down one's spine.

John Miller 21/02/2014 11:03
Editor I appreciate your revival of this discussion. Speaking for myself I must confess to having a very restricted appreciation of the vastness and inexhaustible provision of the love of God revealed in His only begtten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will study these lists and am sure that it will be for my blessing.
Dennis Tanner 26/03/2014 00:32
Just now reading this article. Wished I would have seen it a couple of months ago when preparing a message for a group of congregations on "our identity in Christ". Great sermon material here and will be added on my next opportunity to preach the message about "our identity in Christ'. The depth and meaning of each statement listed above could take hours to expound on and define! Thanks for sharing.

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