MARK MY WORDS- Identity

As we see how far God went in answering the question, “God, don’t you care if we perish?” in sending his own Son to die on the cross, we find one more step in truly seeing the fullness of God’s answer.

Jesus in coming to earth, reveals an identity which is the means to our new identity. (Mark 4:41) They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

When you see someone do something so powerfully beyond your expectations, it is pretty natural to stop and question…”Who is this person?” Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is not built during crisis, it is revealed during crisis.” It is in this crisis that the nature of Christ is revealed. Some people hearing this story, maybe you, might be struggling with the idea of a miracle in a world of rationality, science, reason, and predictability. I get it, you aren’t alone if you are there, but let me turn it around for a second. Would you be willing to worship someone as god who was forced to take weather delays, would you be willing to follow a god who was unable to act in the face of doubts, would you be willing to surrender to a god who is forced to surrender to the world around you? It is in the God who doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk, that we find our hope. Col. 2:9-10 connect us inextricably with Christ: 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Suffering from terminal spinal cancer at the age or 47, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano spoke with a reporter. He looked back on his life and told a story about himself as a 23-year-old coach of a small college team. “Why is winning so important to you?” the players asked Valvano. “Because the final score defines you,” he said, “You lose, ergo, you’re a loser. You win, ergo, you’re a winner.” “No,” the players insisted. “Participation is what matters. Trying your best, regardless of whether you win or lose — that’s what defines you.” It took 24 more years of living. It took the coach bolting up from the mattress three or four times a night with his T-shirt soaked with sweat and his teeth rattling from the fever chill of chemotherapy and the terror of seeing himself die repeatedly in his dreams. It took all that for him to say it: “Those kids were right. It’s effort, not result. It’s trying. God, what a great human being I could have been if I’d had this awareness back then.” Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated, quoted in Reader’s Digest.

If only, we could find our true identity sooner in Christ, what a different life we might have lived. How things might have been different. In God’s grace, he forgives us for our missteps, failures, and folly, but the key isn’t using that grace to indulge in sin, but to start living a life in response to such grace. God calls us to be the very person, at our core, we want to be! The things we find captivating, engaging, loving, life changing!

Truth be told, I wish you could be shielded from some of the storms, but the storms will come. I wish I had the power to stop the water from rushing, but in the midst of the storm let each drop of rain, each struggle, be a reminder that this world is not your home, each wave that hits you, be an opportunity to give praise for the one who persevered against this world and through his victory gives you victory. Revelation 3:10 puts it like this, “10 because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you (through instead of from) the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” In other words, it is in enduring the storms of this world, in being the light as you have received the light, in loving as you have loved, that Christ’s identity becomes your identity.

God, don’t you care if we perish? Yes, so much that God would perish for us to persevere. I want to give you a way to act on your identity in Christ, a way to help others persevere as you lean on Christ to persevere. There are men and women all across the world, some in Kenya, working with Anna and others, some in the Middle East working, each trying, struggling to shine the light in some of the darkest places in the world. Places where owning a Bible is a death sentence, where the name Jesus is banned. At the website on the screen, you can sign up to ADOPT a worker, as someone might ADOPT a roadside, praying for the worker daily, and potentially supporting their mission. ADOPTING a fellow Christian, as Christ has allowed us to be adopted by God!

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