This summer, we are visiting a church nearby that has a 10am service, which is an hour later and works nicely with our summer schedule. Plus, the messages are spiritually deep and we get to visit with friends we don’t see at our home church.
Last weekend, The Chapel started a new series called Identity Theft, which follows a theme of our small group study over the past few years, which reminds us to find our identity in Christ and not this world. The first of the series defines Christ followers as Saints. The message was phenomenal and spoke right to me.
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:11-14
God’s love is holy, pure and righteous, which allows Him to see me as His holy, pure and righteous child. Of course I am not perfect. Far from it. But God’s perfect love can overcome all of that. I know that my sin, guilt, shame and burdens are all taken care of because of Christ chose to die on the cross (out of his LOVE for us–and me, specifically). I have value because God loves me.
There was one part where the pastor spoke about the reasons we don’t accept our identity as Saints. The first two were that “we believe our past decisions define us more than God” and “we believe others’ opinions define us more than God.” They were so good that I didn’t even care what the third one was, and I was running out of room for notes anyway. But then he said: “The hardest person to forgive is yourself.” And I just about fell out of my chair. He said it’s easy to believe that God forgives others, no matter what they have done. But because we know our hearts, we often times have a hard time thinking that God forgives us. This resonated with me so much because I’ve always struggled with personalizing God’s love for me, something that has been an important focus over the past year.
But the speaker emphasized that the Bible is just as much for me as anyone else. He reminded me that God’s grace is enough for me. That I am decidedly average, when it comes to sin particularly I think he meant. I guess I needed to hear that.
Now, I just need His strength to live as if that were true. The key is not to allow myself to take on identities that come from the world–that is, not from God. But it’s not natural. It’s hard. It’s easy to worry about what others think and let it influence who we are or who we think we are. I have a God-fearing, loving group of friends and, even in our community, it’s difficult to share my weaknesses and admit my struggles. But I know that I can find my identity in my Father, and receive his love with joy and thanksgiving.
Overall it was an amazing service and time with God. I felt a *desire* to spend time with Him like I haven’t in a long time. And when I was running errands after lunch, to find a cupcake carrier (for which I looked at WalMart, Jewel, Target, Home Goods and finally Meijer–phew!) I started singing “I love you Lord and I lift my voice to worship you, oh my soul. Rejoice. Take joy my king, in what you hear, may it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.” over and over and over again in the car. For some reason I felt I should keep singing while I was at Target and I said, “ha, no way.” But I did it anyway. All the way in the door, through the aisles and back out again, and through the parking lot. Softly of course. When I got back to the car, I suddenly forgot the words so I figured it was time to be done. lol But I turned on the radio and it was all static-y. So, I started singing Amazing Love instead. And when I was singing “Jesus, you are my king” for the chorus, I felt my heart swell with love for Him. Sometimes, just to speak the truth to yourself out loud makes it known in your heart.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14