By James Metsger
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:7-9)
One Halloween in elementary school my mother sent me to school dressed as a garage bag. I know my mom loves me, but this was not a good idea. Kids threw trash at me. In their defense, I was dressed like the very thing whose purpose is to hold trash. I’m still recovering.
Most people grow out of dressing up for Halloween and move on to adult costumes like marriage, success, family, education and careers. It’s amazing to me how much our identify can be formed by these costumes we wear. Paul took all the costumes that he had considered an advantage in his life and tossed them like trash into the garbage. It’s not as if those things were inherently bad or sinful, but he recognized he had something of surpassing value that defined him. After stopping him on that road to Damascus, God gave Paul a new identity in Christ. We receive the same identify when we believe.
It’s important to note that your identity from God isn’t dependent on your performance for God. Your relationship with God is not based on your obedience to God. Paul puts it this way: “…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…” (Philippians 3:9).
Often our children will have a project to do for school. Their assignment often comes with a rubric which is a list of requirements by which the project will be graded. You write your name on your paper, you get a point. You quote up to five sources, you get a point. If you include a topic sentence in each paragraph, you get five points—so on and so forth. If you follow all the directions and your work measures up to a certain quality, you get an A! It doesn’t work that way with God. His rubric for righteousness is impossible to attain because it demands absolute perfection! To help us out though, he called on Jesus to do the work and to perfectly meet the standard we never could. We get the grade Jesus received and pass with flying colors!
Christian identity is not about being true to myself.
It’s not about finding my true self, coming to terms with my inner self, or following my fluctuating feelings. Christian identity is receiving from God what is mine in Christ. It’s Christ in me, the hope of glory.
There’s no need to dress up in a costume when you’re hidden in Christ. Good news, Mom. You’re off the hook!
Do you ever go out of your way to pretend to be someone you’re not in hopes of being seen in a particular light?
How does the knowledge you are “in Christ” set you free from having to prove yourself or from pretending to be someone you are not?