Here’s the introduction of A Christ-Centered Identity: Discovering Your God-Given Identity in His Son. This book has been written to help you become more Christ-centered and, consequently, experience more rest, peace, and comfort in your life.
Your identity is crucial in how you view yourself and relate to others. It’s the essence of what you think about yourself. On who or what is your identity primarily based? Is it your work, appearance, what others think of you, family, spouse, athletic abilities, money, possessions, children, neatness, writing, church, ministry, successes, failures, divorce, addiction, political party, etc.? The list is endless.
What if the overall positive ones diminish or even fall away? What if you’re injured and aren’t able to perform as well as you used to? What if you’re fired or permanently disabled? What if the bottom drops out of the economy? How will you handle such events, especially if your identity has been somewhat intertwined with them? Many times you’re much more fragile in your identity than you would like to admit.
While all these aspects of life have an obvious place in your experience, as a Christian your identity should be fully grounded in Jesus Christ and His finished work. The more it is, the more stability you’ll experience, especially in the storms of life. It’s ultimately the only identity that will last forever. Everything else will eventually be gone. How then are you to find your identity in Christ?
There’s a great mystery that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, hardly seem to realize let alone clearly emphasize. Even if we do realize it, many times our experience doesn’t truly confirm and convey this great reality. More often than not, we’re “tossed to and fro” by the circumstances of life and, even more so, by our unreliable feelings. Instead of being grounded in this mystery, we try to find our rest, peace, and comfort more subjectively.
The mystery is that all the saved ones throughout history are part of Christ’s mystical body. While we certainly can know we’ve become part of His body when we were saved, there’s a greater mystery. It’s also true that we’ve been part of His spiritual body from before the foundation of the world, having been chosen “in him” (Eph. 1:4).
That means we were fully united and entirely involved, spiritually speaking, in every part of His great work of salvation. We were “in him.” That’s why the author of Hebrews stated that Jesus “took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16 KJV), a reference to all believers.
While specifically speaking about Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul stated that you must consider yourself “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). He meant that you’ve to fully identify yourself with His life, death, and resurrection. Is that then not also true regarding every aspect of His saving work?
So, when Jesus was born, you were born. When He was circumcised, you were circumcised. When He was baptized, you were baptized. When He lived righteously, you lived righteously. When He died, you died. When He rose again, you rose again. When He ascended to the Father, you ascended to the Father. When He intercedes for you, He intercedes for His body. When He will appear in glory, you will appear in glory with Him.
That’s the mystery—having been united to Jesus as His (mystical) body, even from “before the foundation of the world.” That also means that you’re to find your true identity in Him alone. There’s an inseparable unity that can never be broken.
Paul made a very intriguing statement: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness.” He then goes on to give an overview of Christ’s saving work: “He [Jesus] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). The work of Jesus Christ on behalf of His body is the great mystery of godliness—we’re fully united to Him. That’s why Paul also wrote: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11).
There were two triggers that led up to this book. The first one is by Isaac Ambrose and his classic Looking unto Jesus. His sole premise is that we, as believers, many times fail to do the most important “gospel duty”: look to Jesus from everlasting to everlasting, performing the great work of our salvation.
The second one is by John Bunyan and The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate. He addressed how Christians, through sin, can easily lose sight of their interest in being part of Christ’s mystical body, being part of His inheritance. However, as our Advocate, Jesus pleads our (His!) case and keeps us graciously and legally without any charge because He’s our life.
These two triggers have given birth to the following ten chapters. You’ll see your union with Jesus and are able to find your identity in Him, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. My prayer is that God will use this book to deeply ground you in this mystery, so you’ll be unmoved by the circumstances of life or your unreliable feelings. That you’ll look away from yourself to the One “who is your life” (Col. 3:4). May He bless it accordingly!
The Devotional Writer
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