Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Who Are You ? The Identity Gift

“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.” Phil. 3:9

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His identity and righteousness have been reckoned to us when received by faith. What did Jesus do on the cross? He emptied Himself of all identity. Isn’t that what Philippians says? And as the Augsburg Confession puts it, “Christ’s merits are given to us so that we might be reckoned righteous by our trust in the merits of Christ, when we believe in Him, as though we had merits of our own.” 

In other words, identity is a gift. It’s not to be earned; it is bestowed. It is given by God, not the court of public opinion, not even the court of condemnation inside our own minds. 

In the gospel we don’t get instructions about how to create a better version of ourselves. We get a new identity, a gift. It’s a matter of being, not doing. It’s a matter of giving up on the idea of who you think you need to be and finding out that what remains is the real you, loved and accepted by God on account of Christ. 

So Christianity explodes the idea of ever reaching peace through personal achievement. You will never be cool enough, good-looking enough, wealthy enough. Christianity reestablishes the proper basis for self-understanding. W. H. Auden, the great English poet, wrote, “The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded from, having nothing to hide.”  Christ brings the end of double lives, the end of hiding. 

If the fruit of the law is narcissism, loneliness, and anxiety, the fruit of the gospel is honesty, and honesty works itself out in repentance and confession. Because we are forgiven, we are free to finally talk about what’s really going on in our lives, independent of the judgments that might provoke. In repentance, God meets us in our weakness, not in our strength.

Thought to Remember for Today
God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He nailed our narcissistic instincts to a cross. And rising again, He established a new identity for each of us. The starting point is grace—not works, not public opinion. And this is a life of freedom, where we can own up to our shortcomings, independent of judgments.

by David Zahl from Grace Untamed: A 60-Day Devotional