Reflections of a New Identity
The weather today seems to be taking on a new identity, one of spring! After weeks of snow maybe spring is really on the horizon. Yet, I know that even with today’s warming temps and the beautiful sun that winter isn’t over. The weather just isn’t ready to fully take on a new identity. It needs to work towards it slowly having some good weather days and some that aren’t so much. Taking on a new identity can be difficult as it requires a lot of work and it isn’t something that happens overnight. The biggest step though is deciding to change. J. P. Morgan said, “The first step toward getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” And that is the key to a new identity and the way to walk with God to eternity.
As we travel the journey through the season of Lent, many of us are doing a lot of self-reflecting and taking inventory of where we stand in our walk with God. Perhaps you feel that you need a new identity in your Christian walk or perhaps just a refresher course of commitment. It is important to remember whether you are taking on a brand-new identity in Christ or just recommitting to the new identity you took on in the past that it doesn’t happen overnight. Disciples aren’t instantly made.
Years ago, comedian Yaakov Smirnoff joked about his discoveries as he transitioned from Russia to the United States. He said he wasn’t prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in the American grocery store. He said, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk, you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice, you just add water, and you get orange juice. But then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!” Of course, Smirnoff was joking, but too often we make these assumptions about taking on a new identity in Christ, with Christian transformations.
But unfortunately, taking on a new identity in Christ doesn’t cause us to change instantly at salvation. It isn’t a quick fix to sin with a miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We can’t treat our new identity in Christ like a trip to the grocery store for some powdered Christian. We don’t just add water to the mix and have an instant disciple with a new identity. New identities in Christ come slow, sometimes through trials, and often with suffering along with temptations. A new identity in Christ only begins at salvation and it often takes more than time. It is more than just a name change as you have to live a life that reflects the name.
New Names take New Commitments
New identities come with new names. In the Bible, names are particularly important. As a name described a person’s character or experience. The changing of Abraham’s name was a reminder of the covenant that He had made with God. Abraham’s life wasn’t instantly changed when he first agreed to the covenant with God. Abraham made some pretty serious mistakes in the interim. Mistakes large enough to make an exciting and thrilling epic movie filled with intrigue, lies, and marital infidelity. But God didn’t give up on Him nor did He give up on God. In today’s passage, we find God announcing again just who He is and what He expects; faithful service, and to live a blameless life. This is the same message God has for us today. As we too are to obey God in every respect simply because He is God.
As God changes Abraham’s name from Abram it is clear that He is bringing back into focus the covenant between the two as God is ready to move forward. In this transaction, God is calling Abraham into a recommitment with a new identity. It is also a new identity that He calls us to when we come to Him and make a covenant. When we take on a new identity in Christ, we too, are called to live out that identity with our whole life.
What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.Genesis 17:5 (NLT)
Simple Terms – Great Rewards
When we make a covenant as a believer in Christ the terms are simple, we give our identity to Him and identify as one of His. We are called to obey God through His Word and our faith. It is a time of new beginnings. In most contracts which is a covenant, there is an equal trade. But in claiming our identity in Christ we receive far more than we give. For when we become part of God’s covenant family, the blessings we receive far outweigh what we must give up. God asks us to invest in Him. Lent is a time that we can render our hearts again to give Him a sign that we are still on the journey with Him.
We though, like Abraham, often aren’t sure where the path is leading and sometimes try to get ahead of God with our impatience. This is why we must realign ourselves again and again, so we live up to our new identities in Christ that we took on as a believer. And the wonderful thing is that God allows us to refocus ourselves and get back on the right path. He doesn’t give up on us even when we give up on Him. He simply asks us to keep moving forward with Him and not give up on His promises. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how old we may be, we must keep walking the journey.
New Identities Aren’t Always Easy
And sometimes new identities are hard and difficult and like Abraham sometimes we are forced to walk without all the answers or specific directions. Taking on a new identity in Christ, however, is a decision that we decide for ourselves for it is never forced or even coerced. And sometimes, like Abraham, we get it wrong. But God doesn’t give up on us and so like Abraham and Sarah, we mustn’t give up on Him. Sometimes the paths we choose hurt ourselves, sometimes other people, and sometimes both. But we must journey on to keep walking in our new identities once we have reset ourselves with God. This is why it is important to keep seeking and asking for God’s guidance. Then when we can change our direction, as we realign our identity.
It isn’t instant, however, even if our culture of instant gratification wants it to be. We must stick to the course even when change doesn’t occur immediately for the promises of God come in time and require waiting. Our identity in Christ is a commitment of faith and continuing to be willing to walk before God, step after step. Because as Marin Luther King Jr. said taking the first step is faith. We don’t have to see the whole staircase to just take the first step. And to that, we don’t know everything that our future holds, just look at this past year. And we don’t know everything that God is going to do, but we can always count on God to be faithful to His promises and keep His covenant with us no matter how long that may take or even if it is fulfilled differently than we expect.
Everlasting Promises Are Found in New Identity
God never forgets His promises. He is always faithful. When you choose to walk along with Him you will experience fulfillment through how you live. Won’t you take on a new identity in Christ or recommit your identity in Him during this season? Allow your convictions to root deeply in His love for you, as you journey to the cross with Him. Find your motivations in knowing that God’s promises always come true no matter how long or how they are presented. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that your identity in Christ is always everlasting.
Love in Christ,
It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you hold a new identity in Christ? Are you reexamining your identity in Him during this season of Lent? Share your thoughts on the importance of reexamining your identity in Christ during the Lenten season.