Our Identity is in Christ
Know our identity in Christ is secured not by our hands but the finished work of Christ. While most of us will have been cheering on Tom Daley and his diving partner Dan Goodfellow in their little speedos, during the 10m synchronised men’s diving earlier this summer. The pair from the States who won silver, ahead of the British pair’s bronze, caught attention not only for their diving but their declaration of faith as they were interviewed after the event.
You can see the interview here: http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-morris/us-olympic-divers-following-silver-medal-performance-our-identity-christ as both David Boudia and Steele Johnson described how they found freedom knowing their identity is in Christ and not in the outcome of the event. “We both know our identity is in Christ…knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is just gave me peace.”
But what does that even mean, to say our identity is in Christ, especially at the Olympics?
In Romans 6, Paul suggests we should no longer sin because our old selves died with Christ and now live a new life through Christ’s resurrection (verse 4). “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (6:5). We share in Christ’s resurrection life here and now.
Elsewhere he describes our identity as children of God: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew or Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28). We no longer view ourselves by the world’s categories but recognise who God says we are is more important than who others say we are.
More than that he says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ…your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3). Our life is within Christ, us in him and he in us.
This is a theological truth that when we grasp it, completely transforms our outlook. For our Olympic duo, no longer did they find security in their performance. They knew whatever the outcome, they would not as a result of a diving competition lose their adoption as children of God. Nor would they find that their achievements led to them being viewed by their heavenly father as any more or less worthy of his love.
Not too long ago I found myself in a tough place, feeling useless for God, and like I wasn’t pulling my weight as a disciple of Christ. Having spent most of my Christian life in some form of Christian service and responsibility, I found myself with no opportunity and was struck with the guilt of not doing enough. But these were expectations I was projecting onto myself. Through the help of other Christians around me and some great biblical teaching, I found that too much of my identity was caught up in what I was doing for God rather than just being with God. That’s not to say my sense of freedom has led to me doing nothing for God. Instead, the freedom and love I found in God sent me deeper into a ministry where “His burden was light and His yoke was easy” (Matthew 11:26).
Those Olympians will have worked so freaking hard to have got where they have, but they could do it with joy and peace, knowing they were not defined by what they achieved or accomplished.
More than reshaping our understanding of our performance, knowing our identity is in Christ gives us a great deal of perspective. No matter how badly something goes, we know that we have a relationship with the living God and in Christ have every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). Paul writes that “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). He sees that so long as he has Christ, literally nothing else matters!
Knowing our identity is in Christ, we have been adopted and chosen by our heavenly father, and knowing our eternal destiny is secured not by our hands but the finished work of Christ goes a long way to getting the right perspective on life. Whether we’re Olympic champion, or a school kid, all that matters is God’s love for us.