You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.
I had already been planning to write this blog for a few days. Then along comes Matt Chandler this morning with a sermon that fits right in. He is teaching from Colossians 2 and talking about where we find our identity. He goes through all the normal means - race, religion, church, friends, house, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, etc. He then points out all of the verses in Colossians where the phrase "in Him" is found, i.e. Colossians 2:9-11. "Him" being Christ, of course.
Our identity is internal not external. Where I go outside of Christ to determine my identity, I am an idolater. You will hold on to those things tightly because you think they make you who you are. Conversion happens because of what God has done inside of you. It doesn't come from what you do for God. Going to church every Sunday, serving as an elder, giving to ministries...that won't save you. An external checklist is simply a way to justify yourself. The only reason to do those things is in response to what God has done for you...what you couldn't do for yourself. Our tendency is to get the order wrong.
The first few lines of this post are the chorus from Tenth Avenue North's "You Are More" track on their latest CD. If you haven't seen their video blog regarding this song, go back to my 4/26 post and take a look. There are a few big statements in there. One of which is "Who we are isn't what we have done, it's what's been done for us." That is huge. Society tells us every single day from a very young age that we are the sum total of everything we do. I have fallen into that belief system without even realizing it.
I often feel like I am the sum total of my successes and failures in life. Which means some days I feel really good about myself and my life and other days I feel really bad about who I am and where I am at. It just depends on whether I am choosing to look at my victories in life or my losses. It also depends on my perspective - either duration or earthly/spiritual. The shorter my perspective, the better I usually feel. If I am looking at the last 20 years from an earthly perspective, I feel pretty despondent. I don't feel like the guy who was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school. But even that is just another version of affection for this world and what it has to offer. It's just expected that the smart kid should become society's definition of successful which I guess means good job and good money. We get brainwashed so early.
What Christ has done for you makes you who you are. What a wonderfully frightening thought. It is so freeing on one hand that we have to stop and think if that is really true. On the other hand, it truly bothers me because does that mean that all of my work and striving has been for nothing? Well, in one sense it has...if it has been done apart from glorifying God and instead was meant to glorify myself. As Paul says in Philippians, "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."
There is so much liberty knowing that I am more than the choices I have made because quite honestly they haven't gotten me very far. Life becomes an endless treadmill with no real destination when you are the sum total of your mistakes and problems. What God has made of me is infinitely greater and more meaningful than anything I could ever begin to do for myself. I still need to learn what it means to find my full identity in Him but at least that is a path with a clear destination.
You have been remade.