Everyone one of us struggle from time to time with the issue of forgetfulness. We forget little things – things like; where we placed our glasses or our keys. Have you ever been driving down the road and you suddenly become aware that you might have missed your exit? Or, you realize you’ve driven 8 miles and you don’t remember how you got there? Forgetting little things is a normal part of life – especially as you get older! For some, it’s even more serious than forgetting the little things, it’s losing the memory that provides us with self-identity.
Occasionally that happens because of disease or perhaps an injury that is so severe that a person can’t access that part of their memory. It’s not that they don’t have the memory of who they are – it’s that they can no longer access that portion of their memory. We call that amnesia. They can forget their names, who they are – their friends and other significant relationships. As devastating as those kind of situations can be it’s not as scary as what happens sometimes to believers who forget their identity. And that’s what I want to deal with today as we begin a study through the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians is one of the greatest books in the New Testament. Written by Paul somewhere around the years 60-62 from a Roman prison cell. When Paul wrote this letter he was going through some of the most uncertain times in life. Whether he would live or not was very uncertain. – When you are going through uncertain times you might begin to doubt whether the things you’ve committed yourself to were actually worth it. Paul doesn’t fall into that – he uses the time to write to believers to remind us of who we are in Christ.
The issue of identity is one of the most important issues you will deal with in life.
Everywhere you go people want to know who you are. Walk into a bank for any kind of transaction – they are going to want to know your identity. Get pulled over by a policeman – the very first thing he/she wants to establish is who you are. Go into an airport – you can’t even move through it without having some form of identity. Or a hospital – every time you get a shot or some medicine you will have your identity checked several times– and that’s a very good thing.
The issue of identity is important. In fact one of the more difficult problems we face today is identity theft. There is this whole new emerging business of protecting people from identity theft. The devil doesn’t want you focusing on your identity in Christ – because there is great power in realizing who we are in Jesus. In fact one of the primary strategies of the enemy is to keep people blinded to who they can become in Christ. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4) Satan works overtime trying to keep people blinded to everything that God has prepared for us in Christ. The Lord wants you to know you are to Him and how precious you are and the blessings that are yours because of Christ.
Imagine what happens when a person enters into a relationship with the God of creation. Imagine God choosing to set his love upon you – sends his Son to redeem You – sends His Spirit to awaken your slumbering heart – pours out His saving grace in and through you – imagine realizing that you are a strategic player in God’s redemptive plan – a plan that infuses your life with eternal significance and turns everyday into an infomercial of the power, wisdom and grace of God. Imagine discovering that you life on earth God designed as an instrument of change to lead people out of darkness into the light – imagine that you have all of that and much much much more – but you don’t even realize it.
So tell me, who are you? Who are you really? What characteristic about your life defines who you are? This is a website for men, so let me ask you, are you a father, a son a husband? Are you single? Are you Married? Maybe you are divorced! Do you have kids? Or maybe you chose not to have kids. Perhaps you have kids and wished you’d never chosen to have kids… or maybe now you’re an empty nester.
Sometimes people derive their sense of identity from what they do. Are you a teacher – an office worker – a plumber – a salesman? Sometimes it’s age – I’m an elderly lady or I’m a cranky old man or I’m a teenager. Sometimes it’s possessions that define us. “I’m a homeowner or I’m a collector of this or that. Sometimes it’s education. I’m a professor – a phd or whatever letters you affix before or after your name. Sometimes it’s a particular skill we’ve either been gifted with or have developed. Some guys know how to fix cars – so they are mechanics. Some can play music – they are musicians. Some can grow plants – they are a gardener. Sometimes we let society define who we are. Are you white collar or blue collar? – Republican or Democrat or Independent? Are you management or labor? In school – are you a jock or a geek? Those are the identities that we all too often allow others to place upon us and sad to say sometimes we develop our sense of identity not by what we’ve discovered about ourselves but what others have said about us.
There are countless ways we use to define ourselves and choose to allow others to define us. I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong but are they the things that really give us identity and purpose in life? The problem with them is that if this is how we develop our identities – life becomes very fragile and unpredictable. Because so many of these things change. My name is Eduardo, but I can change my name with a visit to the court and a modest fee. So If I change my name to Pedro, am I no longer me? I am a husband and a father, but if God forbid, something happened to my family, would I no longer me me? I’m a multi-unit restaurant operator, but if I got fired or quit, would I not longer be me? I have been a Republican for 30 years but do I really want my life defined by a politician? Especially in this crazy time when politics have become so corrupt and parties are being forced to change due to the leadership within! So who am I? I am a son of God. I am His and He is mine!
What I’m saying is that your identity needs to come from something much deeper and more fulfilling than all those categories. As a believer, a christian, the Lord wants you to understand that you are more than any one of those labels.
Your true identity is based on who you are in Christ. Look at what Paul says about his identity in the book of Phil. 3:4- 8 “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 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” Paul is saying I used to use all these things as a way of defining myself, but I came to a place where I realized that none of those things would really define who I am. What’s really important to me is who I am in Christ – and that’s what I celebrate and focus upon in my life today. So, who are you? And what are you going to do with that?
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