The Holy Spirit aka the Forgotten Part of God

The Holy Spirit aka the Forgotten Part of God
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WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING WHO GOD IS we tend to be comfortable in the identities of Jesus and the Father. Yet when it comes to the Holy Spirit He feel less like a familiar neighbor and more like some hermit in that creepy house at the end of town. Throughout the Old Testament we hear of God moving through the prophets and the nation of Israel. While in the New Testament we are focused on the works and words of Jesus, however what we usually don’t realize is that the Holy Spirit is working right there along side them.

On a technical level the Holy Spirit is the third member of the trinity and is an equal part of the godhead along with Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit is the part of God in which we can interact with on a daily basis. He is the personal part of God which we have not only living inside of us but is a part of the world around us, as the tangible presence of God on the Earth (2 Corinthians 13:14, John 5:6-8).

The Holy Spirit is Closer Than Your Trusty Smartphone

Some people tend to see God as being far off in Heaven and Jesus is right there beside Him, while the Holy Spirit is here on the earth and is never far away. Through salvation and baptisms the Holy Spirit not only becomes part of our lives but comes to live inside of us. We can’t just reduce that truth to a Christian phrase or a theological topic, but we must come to a living reality of that truth in our own lives.

The Holy Spirit wants to be known by us and we must be just as willing to know Him.

The Holy Spirit wants to be known by us and we must be just as willing to know Him. That is the purpose of this first section to better know the Holy Spirit and develop a living relationship with Him here and now. To take away any walls of separation between us and the trinity. To live in the fullest possible measure of God’s presence and purpose for our lives.

We see The Holy Spirit at work in many ways throughout the Bible all the way back at creation in Genesis 1:2, 26 we see the spirit hovering, waiting to create, waiting to bring life to the natural realm we live in. Fast forward to the baptism of Jesus and we see Him at work again as the one who empowers Jesus to fulfill His mission to redeem mankind (Matthew 3:16-17).

After the death and resurrection of Jesus we see the power of the Holy Spirit at work through the apostles and the early church in the book of Acts.

The Holy Spirit was moving in the same way He was during Jesus’s ministry because we have been given the same authority to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the do the same. The Holy Spirit isn’t a type of magic to be invoked He is the power and presence of the living God who is looking for those willing to not only have a relationship but be willing to do was the Father calls them to do with their lives.

One With Jesus And One With Us

The Holy Spirit’s role can be seen clearest through Jesus’ words about His unity with the Father. (John 5:36-40, John 8:28-29). The same relationship that Jesus lays out concerning His relationship with the Father should be the same for us and the Father today. The Holy Spirit, aka God’s presence on the earth should be just as open and vivid to us as it was to Jesus during His earthly ministry. The Holy Spirit does not glorify Himself, but the Son. This does not speak of an inferiority in His standing in the Trinity but reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption. That is why we must never forget that the Holy Spirit came to make real the things of Jesus, that through Him the same power that was at work through Jesus is available to us today (John 16:13-15).

The Holy Spirit came to make real the things of Jesus, that through Him the same power that was at work through Jesus is available to us today

Unlike in the Old Testament where people were kept a safe distance from the Spirit of God, in the Gospels, Jesus signaled a change in how the Holy Spirit would relate to men and women. No longer would there be a separation where only the high priest on one day a year could experience the presence of God but all people at all times could be that near to God. Before the people would fear and quake at the presence of the Father, now under the New Covenant  the barrier of sin is gone and God through Holy Spirit has deposited His presence into us. No longer are just the prophets and patriarchs privy to a special relationship with the Creator but everyone who have called Jesus their Messiah and Savior.

The Holy Spirit Reveals The Father

Another key role of the Holy Spirit is that He takes the all of the things we associate with the Father and reveals them to us (John 16:12-16)We see this modeled over and over with Jesus as He only said and did what He heard from the Father. That same relationship is available to us today, and not just for a select few such as prophets or leaders of large churches. All who are willing to listen and obey can hear the voice of the Father.

This leads to another one of the Holy Spirit’s roles, the one who would empower His church to do what God called it to do. He helps the church be an authentic witness to the world just as we saw in Acts 1:8.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit wasn’t just sent to help the church metaphorically or emotionally, but He is here to help the church move in power. Be it power over sin, hopelessness, or the fallen state of the world. He also brings to us gifts of wisdom, knowledge and even (at times the most needed manifestation) miraculous power which sees the dead raised, people healed and testimonies which cannot be denied come to pass. You see as believers we are nothing more than living lightbulbs and the Holy Spirit is the electricity which generates light for people to see Jesus.

Starting with the apostles and carrying on to today we are all called to be proclaimers of the gospel. From the beginning God knew that Jesus’ physical presence would leave but He would send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ place to work through and with believers (John 16:7).

The Holy Spirit came in this “new way” when Jesus’ physical presence left the earth and now uses everyday believers such as you and me to continue the ministry of Jesus and to expand the Kingdom. Everyday people who are willing to follow the Holy Spirit and not just the elite few. We all have our own places of influence and people we can reach that others will never be able to. If we give Holy Spirit room to move in those areas imagine what could happen, with Jesus’s resurrection and ascension the promise of John 7:39 is NOW in effect.

John 7:38-39 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Living As If The Kingdom Is Already In Effect

When we begin to accept that the Holy Spirit is the living and active presence of God that lives within us then and only then can we have a true impact on this world. When we no longer look at Him as being some type of mystery or some genie certain denominations talk about we begin to understand. The God we read about in the Old Testament and the Christ we preach about from the New Testament lives inside of us and is looking to continue the work He began so long ago.

The same holiness, compassion and power Jesus walked in is available to us today through the Holy Spirit.

The same compassion and power Jesus walked in is available to us today, but with that the same standard of holiness spoken of by the Father in the Old Testament remains. The Holy Spirit has been unleashed to bring people to the cross, to work in power and to ensure that Christians live according to the standards which have been lovingly set by the Father.

John 16: 7-11 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

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Trusting the God of Hope When You Have None Left

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WITH ALL OF THE DIFFICULTIES, struggles, pains, losses, frustrations and general unjust craziness there is in this life it doesn’t take much to lose ones hope. We try our best to continue trusting the God of hope but so much in this world and in our individual lives tells us to give up the fight and settle into the lands of defeat. There is no fairy tale ending, so get a cozy chair and get yourself a nice view of the pit of despair.

We see bad things happen, or watch family members struggle with health issues, we struggle with finances, prayers don’t get answered so we are tempted to just give up trying to be optimistic or to cling to any sort of faith that God can change what is going on in our lives. Along with all of that we take the fallout from one unanswered prayer and use it to justify not having faith for God to do something next time. Or we allow one loss to cancel out dozens of previous victories, everything that God did years ago no longer matters because we feel that He wasn’t with us today.

These are difficult issues and hard questions to deal with and they can’t just be answered by telling someone that they just have to believer harder or that they should just read their Bible more. I’m not against faith or prayer or anything like that, I’ve personally witnessed the blind see, the deaf hear,  and the crippled walking out of wheel chairs. However, I have also watched people die from cancer, others struggle with issues from accidents, I’ve lost two friends to depression and suicide and I’ve had my own problems as well.

I have seen the greatness of God’s power in action and I’ve experienced the absence of it.

Hope in action vs. hope in the rear-view mirror

I have seen the greatness of God’s power in action and I’ve seen and experienced the absence of it, even with myself. For the past four years I have struggled with an ear issue that has left me with unending ringing in my ears, has cost me one third of my hearing ability and has made me unable to even worship along with the rest of the church I attend. Flashback ten years ago now and I was once in a market in Mexico City on a mission trip and we were praying for people. One day a woman came to get prayer for her ear. Me and another prayed for what we thought was an ear
infection and she was miraculously healed. What we found out after we prayed was that she didn’t have in infection but had actually ruptured her ear drum the day before and was totally deaf in the one side. After she said she could hear she pulled out the cotton ball from her no longer deaf ear that was stained with blood.

It’s not just a matter of going down to the Jesus store and picking up some joy with a side of milk.

This is where things get difficult when you know that God can and is able to move in power and He doesn’t. It’s not easy to keep hope alive, especially as the years go by, especially when those years bring more and more pain, frustration and loss. God is the God of hope according to Paul in Romans 15:13 and not only that but He is also supposed to be our source of joy and peace. The problem is though it’s not just a matter of going down to the Jesus store and picking up some joy with a side of milk. These are real matters of faith, not just superficial ones where we just try to whitewash what is going on inside of us.

What is real faith?

You see real faith is not yelling at the top of your lungs that you have faith; real faith involves being honest with what is in front of us. Faith is never absent from realty, it recognizes what is really going on and looks towards God to change that reality to something else. Pretending that there are no problems is not faith it is delusion. Does that mean we can’t pray for a change? Of course not. What I am saying is that our faith and hope are not dependant on our circumstances they are dependant on the nature and character of God.

It takes infinitely more faith to declare that God is good and loving when your world is upside down than it does when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned church and everything is rainbows and sunshine. Real faith is when you are able to honestly praise God even when you don’t get your prayers answered, not just when you do.

“It takes infinitely more faith to declare that God is good and loving when your world is upside down than it does when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned church and everything is rainbows and sunshine.”

Just look at what Jeremiah said after the darkest day in Judah’s history at that time in Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (NKJV). Jeremiah didn’t write this after the people repented and had a great party, no he wrote this after the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. How could he speak of hope after so much death and destruction? He could do it because He understood who God is.

That is where we find out great weakness, far too often we take the supposed and actual failures, shortcomings, and losses of our lives and place the blame squarely on God and we lash out against him like overly emotional teenagers in response. Everything bad was God’s fault and everything good is the result of my own hard work – is the lie we tell ourselves. You see God is good but we are temporary travelers in a world that is not good.

We live in a fallen and broken world and there are times when we don’t get our way, a prayer doesn’t get answered, a person dies, a job is lost or a life loses its purpose. Then rather than praise God for who He is and what else he has done for us we abandon hope because we believe it is better not to hope than it is to hope and be disappointed. We respond that way because it is all part of the plan, not God’s plan but Satan’s.

Why Satan comes to steal our hope

In Satan’s eyes a mute, broken and depressed Christian is the best one there is because he knows they will never do anything to weaken his kingdom. It is a campaign of disarmament where he and his forces go out and convince Christians that it is better to have never hoped than to have hoped and lost. It is a strategy where he convinces us that the weapons of our belief and warfare are too heavy to carry and actually do more harm than good. So we should throw them away and settle for a life under spiritual house arrest.

It is a campaign of disarmament where Satan and his forces convince Christians that it’s better to have never hoped than to have hoped and lost.

In Rick Renner’s devotional Sparkling Gems From The Greek (USA Canada) he talks about John 10:10-11 and unpacks the meaning of what Jesus meant warning us that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. Renner speaks of how the word kill does not mean to murder but has the understanding of a religious sacrifice such as when a lamb was killed on the altar. If Satan can’t destroy our hopes, dreams, purpose, life or anything else he’ll convince us to do it ourselves out of devotion or another reason. The same applies to our hope if he can’t crush it from within he’ll convince us to lay it down either for moral, cultural, religious, or emotional reasons. Or it could be as simple as feeling as if God is calling us to lay something down when in reality God is trying to awaken that thing you are about to kill.

What do we have to look forward to?

Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” this is both a spiritual and a medical truth as the loss of hope has a tangible impact on our spirit, mind and body. However the verse continues and says that a “longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

In our opening verse Romans 15:13 the hope Paul was looking towards was the culmination of both Jews and Gentiles coming into the Kingdom of God together through the New Covenant (Titus 2:13). This is what drove him from nation to nation and from prison to prison preaching the gospel despite the problems he encountered because he saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

We also need that long ranging hope to carry us to the end of our lives, but we also need hope for today. We need both hope for today and for the future because we live in two worlds one of earth and one of Heaven. So our hope must reflect that we can’t have a hope that is based only in the future, but we must also have a hope that sees its results today, although to a smaller degree.

It is just like opening a present on Christmas eve and getting the rest in the morning.  Or taking a long-awaited road trip but also taking time to make stops along the way. You don’t wait until you arrive to enjoy yourself even though your ultimate enjoyment is at the end of the trip (serendipity). At other times you may discover that you only enjoyed the final destination because of what happened along the way, so it is with our hope in God.

Are there times when God will answer our prayers, yes, and are there times when He won’t (at least as far as we can perceive) of course. What is important though is not how God answers but how we respond to God afterwards. If we can turn to God with the same love and hope no matter the outcome then we have passed the test of faith and our hope is not in God’s ability to please us but it is based on our love for Him.

If we can turn to God with the same love and hope no matter the outcome then we have passed the test of faith.


Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NKJV)

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Playing With Shadows

Shadow in dogwood park
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AS CHRISTIANS AT TIMES WE CAN TAKE FOR GRANTED who we are and what we were like before we encountered Jesus. We sing the songs about being changed and redeemed but those just become words and it is easy to lose sight of the journey we have taken from where we once were to where we are today. You see before we were redeemed our lives could be compared to a shadow cast upon the ground. People could see us and there was some trace of us but it was only a faint outline of who we really are. Shadows can interact with each other, overlap and give the impression of life, but its life is based on something else, something real.

You can look at shadows and recognize people talking, walking, running, or sitting, but shadows are not limited only to people, anything exposed to light casts a shadow. The object is real but you can’t do anything with its shadow, I can’t drive around in the shadow of my car, I can’t walk into the shadow of a grocery store and come out with a snack. A shadow is only a projection of what is real and the shadow is revealed only when light is shone upon it.

Before we were redeemed, forgiven, restored and born again we were nothing but shadows of the person God created us to be. We were hollow and like a vapor, we were fully formed on the outside but missing a vital piece within us. We were like a vapor which had lifted off from a lake, and was slowly drifting away until we becomes completely dispersed in the air around us.

But God came into our lives (Mt 4:16, Lk 1:79) and we no longer live as a shadow cast upon the ground. We now through atonement and the New Covenant have taken our place as the person we truly are and have been created to be. None of this is because of our own goodness, hard work or devotion, we have been changed from shadow to person only because of Jesus.

Paul lays this out clearly in 2 Corinthians 3:18-21 but I want to emphasize what he said in verses 5 to 6: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (NKJV).

The Shadow Remains

Despite the light and new life Jesus has given to us we still cast a shadow, the shadow of what we once were, the shadow of what remains from our old life (Rom 7:21-25). The struggles, the weaknesses, the sins, the old ways, selfishness, greed, pride and so on. That shadow is still there and not only that but through the light of Christ it appears even more detailed and richer than it had before. This is true for two reasons first your perspective has changed from that as a shadow cast upon the ground in a dark two-dimensional world to one standing above the ground in a fully lit three-dimensional world where you can see yourself and the shadow (Mt 6:22-23).

Secondly when there is more light a shadow stands out so much more because there is a contrast between the two. It’s hard to pick apart two shades of grey but very easy to see the difference between white and black. The more of the light of Jesus we have in and around us the greater amount of contrast there is between His nature and the one we had when we were still lost in sin and unforgiveness (Jn 1:5).

The more of the light of Jesus we have in and around us the greater amount of contrast there is between His nature and the one we had when we were still lost in sin and unforgiveness

How Do We Cast Off This Shadow?

Now what are we to do with the shadow of our old life that still clings to our feet and follows us around in our daily lives? It’s simple, get more light. Don’t misunderstand me I’m not getting metaphysical I am just painting a picture of what is happening within us, and it’s a picture which God uses frequently throughout the Bible (Jn 1:9, Jam 1:17). When I say get more light I am talking about things such as building our relationship with the Trinity, I am talking about prayer, faith, holy living, reading and understanding the scriptures, worship, thanksgiving and everything things else Jesus has called us to be and do in this world.

The more light we can have shining upon us from different angles makes it so there is less room in our lives for shadows to find a place to rest. This is all no different than how it is in film making or photography. In these industries they use multiple sources of light to get rid of any unwanted shadows in a shot. Sometimes two, three, four or more lights, types of bulbs, diffusions, soft-boxes and so on are needed to cancel out any unwanted shadows that another light source could be casting.

We have to look at our lives the same way, when we come to Christ and receive His gift of atonement and forgiveness whereby a great purifying light is shone upon us (Jn 8:12). That light makes our old shadow look so much more evident that we need more light to surround and radiate from us (Mt 5:16) us so that there is no more shadow, or at the very least one that is barely noticeable.

All of this takes not just work but more importantly relationship building between us and God, we must go beyond a Sunday morning only Christianity and move into one where God is a living part of our daily lives. Then and only then can those shadows of our old ways, the world and the flesh can be drowned out buy God’s light, love, holiness, justice, forgiveness and covenant goodness. The first step though is looking behind yourself and recognizing that shadow behind you and then we look forward towards Jesus and invite Him to shine even brighter in our own lives.

John 3:18-21” 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (NKJV)

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We Need An Outside Perspective

Winnie on the couch looking for perspective on life
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AS WE GO ABOUT OUR LIVES AT TIMES WE ARE VICTIMS OF A LACK OF PERSPECTIVE. You see as I was preparing to write this blog I was once again distracted by my dog Winnie, who jumped up beside me despite the unbearable heat in the house. I was trying to discover what it was that I should talk about this week but every couple of minutes my dog started gnawing on her back foot. I ignored it the first few times but then I leaned in to see if there was some grass or seeds stuck in there from an earlier trip to the park. The thing is that I couldn’t find more than a blade of grass or so, but Winnie just kept on gnawing and pulling at her foot. I also started to smell the familiar aroma of fake grapes, you know that smell from candy that is in no way related to the fruit its named after, yeah that smell.

So I flipped over her paw and saw a bunch of dead grass mixed in with some gum or some other kind of candy. Now that I knew what was going on I grabbed some paper towels and started to clean her but she wouldn’t cooperate. All of my attempts to clean her foot were met with headbutts and her nipping the top of her foot. I then unleashed the big gun one of her favorite snacks, a stick made out of sweet potato and bacon. Finally, I was able get to work cleaning her and getting all of the mess off of her foot.

She knew something was wrong but she was gnawing on the wrong place and wasn’t actually doing anything the make things better. My dog lacked the perspective to see what was really going on with her foot and she lacked the dexterity to see the sticky problem causing her irritation.

I wonder how often that happens to us as believers, we feel an irritation somewhere in our lives so we just blindly start gnawing in the general direction and hope that it makes things better. We don’t know exactly what is going on but we can narrow it down to a general area of our lives. Problems such as figuring out our purpose, general frustrations of life, bills unable to be paid, life feeling empty, prayers appearing as if they are unanswered, struggles with sin, and troubles at home, work, school and so on.

A Different Set of Rules

We feel something is out of place but we can’t see what is going on, we need help from someone with a better and a higher perspective. Just like Winnie needed my help to get the gum or what ever it was off of her foot so to do we need God to help us in our daily lives. God knows all and sees all and is a whole lot smarter than we are. God said through the prophet Isaiah that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Is 55:8).

This means that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit see things from a different perspective than we do. It also means that He has different means to solve problems than what we would come up with on our own. Think of the story of Gideon, he was told to conquer the Midianites by waving around torches, pots and playing trumpets. Three hundred guys facing an army of untold thousands and all they were supposed to do was blow some trumpets and break some pots. That was far from a sound military strategy, but it worked.

We see the same expression of God’s higher and different ways through Jesus who at face value did everything that a Messiah was supposed to do wrong. He didn’t build a school, He didn’t fight the Romans. He didn’t set up a new Davidic Kingdom, He didn’t advocate for vengeance on Israel’s enemies, He constantly stood against the Pharisees and on and on. Jesus in the eyes of the people around Him was a failure, but in God’s eyes He was an astounding success.

Jesus in the eyes of the people around Him was a failure, but in God’s eyes He was an astounding success.

We have to imitate Jesus’ perspective

Jesus speaks about Heavenly things as one who calls Heaven His home, so He has a full perspective of the universe and all of creation. He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the end result of any course of action we take. This is why teachings such as the Beatitudes are so hard for us to apply, because it goes against our natural desires and calibrates us to God’s desires.

We must remember that we have been called to have the Mind of Christ, to act as He acted, to believe as He believed and to have our souls and bodies submitted to our spirit as He did.  To disconnect ourselves from how we lived before and to renew our minds to conform with His ways not our own. Paul calls this having our minds renewed (Romans 12:2) and He encourages us to set our minds on things that are higher than ourselves and our world (Colossians3:1-3). Otherwise we are doing nothing more than getting our feet covered in mud, gum, twigs and rocks which not only slow us down but cause endless frustration and pain.

Did you know that Jesus watches and judges us by our thoughts and motives (Matt 5:28), as opposed to people who watch and judge us by our actions? This can be hard for us to grasp at times, but it is critical to our walk with God. You see when we filter our hearts through Matthew 5, Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13 eventually we will be changed for the better.  It won’t happen overnight but over time, through trials and temptations these pillars of life become the roots by which the fruits and gifts flow out of.   If someone expects that love will grow out of our miracles, or patience out of prophesying, they have no real roots and will wither away either from temptations, a dry season, or a lack of patience.

A two-part process

This is a two-part process, we are to look at the world, ourselves and others through the same lens that Jesus does. While the second part is a constant reminder for us to turn to God when we have trouble, irritations, frustrations, problems. Just like my dog Winnie she was unable to fix her foot without outside help, help that could see things she couldn’t and actually bring relief. When we make time for God and when we make Him the first place and we go to Him when we have problems then we are more likely to find relief. Or at the very least the strength to endure because God does not always bring an instantaneous remedy to our problems.

Jesus watches and judges us by our thoughts and motives, as opposed to people who watch and judge us by our actions.

With Winnie I spent about 30 minutes cleaning, combing and cleaning her back paw.  It wasn’t a band aid type clean up it took time and I had to keep her distracted with her chew stick the whole time, otherwise she would try to “help” and make things harder to deal with. Perhaps it is the same with us and God sometimes, as God uses His higher perspective to bring us relief, or answers to prayers. However often we are so focused on the problem that we are flailing around and making it harder for Him to finish His work. If only we had some sort of distraction like Winnie’s sweet potato and bacon chew to help us through the operation. If we think about it we do and it comes in the forms of worship, praise, the presence of the Holy Spirit and our faith in God’s role as our loving Father.

Philippians 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NKJV)

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Six Minutes of Grace: The Key To Finding Happiness and Purpose
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Six Minutes of Grace Journal
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Outsourcing God: How Good Sheep Get Lost by Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Roots of our Identity as Christians

Roots of our identity as Christians - CCR dogwood forest 1
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EACH ONE OF US IS LIKE A SAPLING IN THE GARDEN OF GOD, we bask in the light of the sun and strive to grow higher and closer to the source of our nourishment. We push through the dirt of this world and continually look up higher, all the while we are trying to understand our identity and what we are supposed to look like. A plant has no idea what it looks like, it just knows it’s a plant. It’s identity is based on what it does, so it digs into the soil, baths in the light of the sun and produces seeds so that the area around it will be filled with more plants like it.

There is no striving or confusion, the plant doesn’t try to be like a rabbit or a rock it is living out the purpose God created for it. It is the same with us, God desires for us to be like this plant for us to grow, develop, reproduce and enjoy the life God has created for us to partake in. We are to follow after the nature and purpose God has created us to be like, for those who have been redeemed by Christ and were brought into the New Covenant our spiritual DNA has been transformed from that of a rock to a living plant. No longer cold and hard but alive and drawn to the light of the sun.

Our identity then doesn’t begin with our name or our personality it begins with something deeper, it begins with the roots we are all connected to, Jesus. In John 15:1-8 Jesus speaks of those who follow Him as being like branches which are connected to a grape vine which is Himself. He goes on to speak of how we cannot produce fruit without His presence and support and without Him our branch simply dries out and is thrown away. We see then that Jesus is our source, He is our battery, He is our wi-fi, He is our water and so much else.

Understanding who Jesus is becomes our first step in understanding who we are

Understanding who Jesus is becomes our first step in understanding who we are, before we were disciples we saw our identity according to our own accomplishments, hobbies, desires, talents, jobs, education and so on. However, something changed when we entered into that covenant through faith in Jesus, our identity is no longer grounded in who we are but in who Jesus is. I am not saying through that we all have to wear the same clothes, listen to the same types of music, have the same hair cut or anything else like that. No, what I am saying is that Jesus becomes our common language which we speak. Jesus becomes the air which we all breath, and Jesus is the roof which covers us all, when we understand this then and only then can we live out the revelation of Galatians 3:28.

With plants there is an infinite variety of types shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, even with these differences they are still all plants. They all still live in the ground, absorb water and soak in the sun, they are still part of the same “family” despite their differences. So it is with all of us who are united in Christ, we were each created with infinite creativity and uniqueness and we are not destined to simply be clones of one another. We are individuals with varying interests, hobbies, cultures, languages and tastes but there is something deeper which unites us into one family.

Looking to Jesus for our Identity

When I speak about rooting our identity in Christ I’m not talking about walking around in a tunic with shoulder length hair and a beard (which would be extra awkward for women) I am talking about being reflections of Jesus’ words, compassion, justice, mercy, power and love. Jesus is the supreme prototype for how we are to live. We can see Him as the great tree which all other plants not only emerge from but are dependant for nourishment.

It is through our compassion and actions that we imitate Jesus in this world.

When we look at how Jesus lived in this world we see that He demonstrated compassion, love, frustration, emotion, grief, and a whole host of other expressions. He was merciful when mercy was needed but he was also firm in times of conflict. He offered grace to the woman caught in adultery but held the Pharisees to a standard beyond what they were used to. He rejoiced when the people came to him and he lamented when towns rejected Him, with these towns Jesus did not call down fire on them but spoke with a broken heart because He knew the consequences of their actions.

Jesus then becomes the gatekeeper, or firewall which determines what comes out of our mouth, what dwells in our minds and what we do with our hands. This is what Paul eluded 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he declared, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (NKJV).  In John 13:12-17 Jesus commands the disciples to follow His example of washing each others’ feet as an act of servitude and humility. Notice He doesn’t say to wear their clothes in a certain way, or to wear a custom bracelet to show the world they are Jesus’s followers, no it is through their compassion and actions that they imitate Jesus in this world.

I am who I am says I am

With this abundance of uniqueness which God has blessed each of us with it is no wonder why we have such and expansive list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 15, or it is why we have a five-fold ministry instead of just a singular priesthood. God made us all unique and so that we can fulfill the totality of the Great Commission, there are those of us created for compassion, some for teaching, some for artistry, some for business, others for evangelism.

There are those who are introverts others extroverts, some are exuberant while others are soft spoken and no one is better than the other. Each one was uniquely created to serve God and to have an impact in the place and time God created them to live in, because there are people both inside and outside of the church who can only be helped but someone just like you. For God crafted you to be unique, quirky, flawed, talented and so many other traits right from the beginning.

Psalm 139:15-17 “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (NKJV)

What do we do next about our identity?

Going forward we have to first learn and understand who Jesus is and use that inspiration and foundation to build our own identity upon. We are to be holy, but not “holier than thou”, we are to be loving but not taken advantage of, we are to be firm in our biblical convictions but not judgmental, we are to live by faith but not by wishing, and we are to be ourselves but without the flaws of the flesh. At the end of the day you are to go out and live like a plant, be it a tree, flower, grain, bush, vine, grass it doesn’t matter what kind you are.

What is important is that you remain rooted deeply in the ground, your drink in the water of life, you bath in the light of the sun and your grow and grow so you can produce fruit and seeds so the great garden continues to spread throughout the earth.

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Are you looking to develop your relationship with God and better understand the Bible? Pick up a copy of one of my books today.

Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs
Amazon.com paperback, eBook | Amazon.ca paperback, eBook
Indigo, iBook, Nook and more HERE

Six Minutes of Grace: The Key To Finding Happiness and Purpose
Amazon.com paperback, eBook | Amazon.ca paperback, eBook
Indigo, iBook, Nook and more HERE

Six Minutes of Grace Journal
Amazon.com paperback | Amazon.ca paperback

 
Creative Commons LicenseThe Roots of Our Identity as Christians Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.