“Who Are You? What Are You For?”

“Who Are You? What Are You For?”

Jun 23, 2016

by Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten
Director of Education and History

Every day, each of us makes decisions about how we will spend what God has given to us. Those decisions extend to every area of our lives — from our time and energy to our physical resources. How we make these decisions define our lives and our relationships, both with other people and with the Lord. The process by which we make those decisions is therefore exceedingly important. And that process will be guided by our sense of identity. Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is, on one level, an exercise in lining up our identity in Christ with the resources God has given us, and then using them accordingly. We speak about this exercise as calling: what God wants us to do with what he has given to us.

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Our Christian vocabulary (discipleship, calling, etc.) sometimes obscures what should be obvious: we cannot follow the Lord as a disciple and honor our calling if we do not know who we are. Identity is not optional. Sometimes, we confuse truth with identity. We know, for example, that we are God’s beloved children. This is an amazing truth, and can be especially profound for those who have experienced great fulfillment or brokenness in their relationships with their human parents. But simply stating we are God’s children, while true, does not in itself tell us anything about our identity. It does not become our identity until we own it and live from it. Our identity and our purpose are closely related — the latter cannot exist without the former. What would we say about an adopted orphaned child with loving adoptive parents who still lives like an orphan? Many things, probably. But we would clearly note that they don’t know how loved they are. They are loved — but they don’t know it on a level that changes anything about them. They are struggling with their identity.

And so, as you read this, I’d like to ask you a question about your identity in the Lord Jesus Christ: What are you for? What is God’s purpose for you as His follower and disciple and beloved child? What did He redeem you from your sin to be and to do? Until you can answer these questions, you will flail and founder in your Christian life. You will move from activity to activity and you will fail to find the joy in obedience that comes from life animated by the Holy Spirit. You may do all the right things, but being a fully formed follower in Christ is not about “doing all the right things” — it is about being found in Him and living from that “foundness.”

If you are struggling with your identity, there are two steps I can encourage you to take. The first is to carefully consider what God says about you in the Scriptures. Through the use of spiritual disciplines, reflect and pray about the truths you discover in the Word. When you have a sense of what the truth is about you, you will be ready to take the second step: to consider those truths you have discovered in light of the unique life God has given you — the work, relationships, gifts, and passions that you have, and the experiences you have that have shaped you. Your identity will be found at the intersection of God’s truth and His work (past and present) in your life.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of knowing who you are and what you are for. Until we as Seventh Day Baptists have a clear sense of what we are for individually, we will struggle to discern what we are for as local churches, as associations, and as a General Conference. We will be unable to use what God has given us as He intends. To close, therefore, I will ask the question again: What are you for?

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