When we become a Christian our core identity changes. Jesus taught there are two basic families, and each has a father. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Jesus’ heavenly Father, who calls us to become children of God, is the other (Galatians 3:26). When we start to follow Jesus our family changes, our spiritual DNA becomes that of our new spiritual family.
Christians have an identity problem. It is the problem of understanding our new identity and living based on that rather than slipping back into the patterns of our former identity. The Apostle Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) The problem arises when Christians neglect their new identity and slip back into the ways of the old identity.
Over the next month we will be looking closely at our new identity as described in 1 Peter 2.9-10. Peter says, you are a chosen people. This is a bold statement which Peter makes with great confidence because he knew it to be true of himself. Peter had walked and talked with Jesus who had transformed his life.
While it is true that God allows us to freely choose whether or not to follow him, it is also true that God chooses us. You may have chosen to propose to your wife/husband, but she/he also had to choose to accept. So when Joshua said to the people of Israel, chose today whom you will serve – it was a real choice that the people could make.
However human nature is fickle and we often change our minds about serving God or approach God half-heartedly. God is not fickle or wavering in His choice of us! In God’s book, chosen is chosen and stays chosen. Paul says with certainty, “God … does not change his mind about those he has chosen.” (Romans 11:29) It is God’s will for you to be part of his family. God wants you, welcomes you and values you.
This verse does not say you are a chosen person, rather it says you are a chosen people. There is a collective and communal sense here … for God so loved the world. We cannot learn our true identity in Christ without Christian community. Each of us contributes to and helps the other discover and realise aspects of our new spiritual identity. We are in this together; building a community, a people. In community, the family of God we find our identity is re-centred in Christ.
What difference does this make to us? We don’t serve a shallow, bumper sticker slogan-type of God, but one who goes beneath the surface to the very depth of our Spiritual DNA to change our identity at the core of our being. Some will say, I get angry easily, it is part of who I am. No, it is who you were, not who you are now that God has chosen you and is changing you. I don’t know what traits of the old identity you are still allowing to have power to define you, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When God changes our spiritual identity, nothing is left unchanged. Your identity in Christ is Chosen, Holy, Called, Free, Forgiven, Blessed, Redeemed, Child of God, Heir, Fruitful, Righteous, Loved …
Which identity are you allowing to define you today?
Rev John Malcolm