If there is anything evident in our society right now, permeating every part of it, it is that so very many are suffering from a crisis of identity. With the result that even something as basic as human biology is no longer a guide to the most basic identity. So people are desperately trying to establish some sense of identity for themselves. This occurs from the mild to the extreme. From the socially acceptable like corporate dress, bumper stickers, displaying desired retail logos, hoodies, baggy pants/skinny jeans, to extreme body modification, tattooing, transvestism, androgyny, etc. Any symbol that marks one out as a part of any particular group, or allows them to communicate something about who they think themselves to be to others.
One of the things Scripture does from its very outset is give us data to help gain a sense of identity as human beings – and what it means to be a “person”, from the point of view of the One who created us. After all, who is better equipped to give us that identity than the one who designed us as we are according to His own will and purposes?
It is no surprise then that as a race in active rebellion against God over who has the right of supremacy over us, (to the point of many even denying that He even exists) that even Christians can (and do) suffer from this crisis of identity – IF – we do not take the Word of God seriously in this matter. Enter the little book of Colossians, and its emphasis upon clarifying this most important issue.
You see, it is one thing for each of us to have an identity – but quite another to know who we are in Christ Jesus. The phrase “in Him” pervades this letter. The Believer needs desperately to know the fullness of the person and work of Christ, and then to understand the nature of his or her identification in and with Christ. There is a cosmos and eternity of difference between being a sinner (which we all are) and a sinner saved by grace (which only believers are). The Christian is forbidden from ever thinking of him or herself solely in terms of him or herself – i.e. apart from Christ. Whoever and whatever we are – we are in Him, and not alone.
Now in his discussion, the Apostle Paul is going to argue that gaining a true, Biblical sense of our identity, is the best equipping for remaining stable, joyful and thankful in the storms, trials and complexities of life. And so he opens the letter by teasing out the key elements of the Christian’s identity. I’ll outline them briefly for you below to consider, marvel and rejoice in today.
When our endurance is the product of absolute trust in the loving goodness of our God toward in Jesus Christ, it produces an endurance in trials which is accompanied by joy and patience.
When trials have displaced our joy, or when patience has run out and we live in the frustration of those trials, the issue isn’t the trial itself, patience itself, nor joy itself – it is faith. Have I lost the confidence in the love of God I so desperately need? For the endurance we need is a supernatural one. We need to be “strengthened with all power, according to HIS glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”
Believing I have an inheritance which far outweighs my current distress, and living in the thankfulness of its reality. If these are eclipsed, endurance is gone.
What then is my real status – regardless of the trials I currently face?
1. Each Believer is qualified by the Father to share in the saints’ inheritance.
2. Believers are delivered from the domain of darkness. Living in the truth of reality as God knows it.
3. Believers have been transferred to Kingdom, to governorship and care of the Beloved Son of God. We are citizens of His Kingdom, and subjects of His Kingship.
And who IS this Beloved Son into whose Kingdom I’ve been transferred? (15-20)
- The image of the invisible God.
- The Firstborn of all creation.
- The Creator of all things in heaven and on earth.
- The Creator of all things visible and invisible.
- The Creator of all ranks of human and angelic life.
- The One who stands at the head of all things.
- The One who continues to sustain the existence of all things.
- The Head of His Church.
- The Head of all the Resurrected.
- The One whom God has set as preeminent over all.
- The One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
- The Reconciler of all things to Himself as God, through the blood of His cross.
4. The Believer is granted full and free pardon for all my sins – more – not just judicially, but personal forgiveness from the God I have sinned against.
5. (21-22) The Believer is reconciled to the Father through His own death, that He might present us (me) to Him holy, without blemish and blameless
And it is the work of the Spirit to bring these home to the heart and mind as realities – realities which fuel faith. Realities based upon believing God’s Word.
Cementing this identity in our minds, will keep us steadfast and sure in the hardest of times.
Christian – know who you really are in Christ.