Sunday, July 5, 2009

Identity Crisis (pt 1): The Gospel Identity



Chicken Prince:
An old Rabbi told a story:

A long time ago a King & Queen became concerned when their son told them he had realized he was a chicken
He began acting like a chicken
He even began living in the chicken coup and living off chicken feed

One day a wise man came and told the concerned parents he could cure the boy.
He walked out to the chicken coup
The Boy asked why he was there
The man replied, “Why are you here?”
“I’m a Chicken,” said the boy…
“I am too!” said the wise man… and with that he began hopping around the chicken yard and eat chicken-feed with gusto!
The Prince was convinced… a few days passed on like this

One morning, the wise man approached the prince One morning, the wise man approached the prince. "I am from a faraway land," he revealed. "In my homeland, chickens don't actually hop. They walk around like regular people."

"Really!" exclaimed the prince. "That must be a great place to be a chicken."

"Let's try it here," suggested the wise man, "Let's walk around."

The chicken prince readily agreed to his new friend's suggestion.

After a few days had passed, the now-upright wise man suggested to the now-upright chicken prince that they move inside the house because in another great metropolis, chickens didn't live in coops, they lived in stately palaces fit for princes. Again, the chicken prince agreed.

So the process continued. Shortly thereafter the wise man convinced the chicken prince that in another great land, chickens ate people food. Then came sitting at the table and enjoying human conversation. Within a short time, the chicken prince, although still maintaining that he was a chicken, began conducting himself exactly like a regular person.

Fortunately, most of us don't suffer from chicken complexes.
But here's a question we can all ask of ourselves: Am I limiting my potential because of my self-perception?

Could it be that our world is full of people in a similar identity crisis?
They were made to stand up like people and eat like people, but instead they live below their potential because they see themselves as chickens?

I believe we live in a world where a majority of people are in a perpetual identity crisis…
They don’t know who they are…
They don’t know why they were created
They search for meaning or settle for chicken lives when they were created for so much more

The word of God is going to invade our chicken coups this morning and remind us of who we are and what it means to live life More Abundantly…

(1 Peter 2:9-10)
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter Sellers:
In The Mask Behind the Mask, biographer Peter Evans says that actor Peter Sellers played so many roles he sometimes was not sure of his own identity. Approached once by a fan who asked him, "Are you Peter Sellers?" Sellers answered briskly, "Not today," and walked away.
A lot of us do this…
We go through life and adapt to our environments…
We may not necessarily change our ideals, but we change how we present ourselves…
And sometimes we are even changed in the process…

(Exp: story of girl living in Ghetto going to nice school…2 different persona’s – survival mechanism – Who was she?)

“If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?” – Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club)

What do you think? Some would say “Yes”… some would say “No Way”… “I YAM WHAT I YAM” (Popeye)… are you?

Are you who you were created to be?

Is it possible that you’ve been trying to blend in with the world around you… or even the opposite – trying to stand out (be original) from the rest of the crowd, that you don’t know who you are at a core level?
…That you are defined by what’s around you or by what you believe is inside you, instead of who God made you?
Exp: watch in sand on beach – never seen a watch… what would you think it was? You wouldn’t know unless you knew the watchmaker or someone who could tell you about the watchmaker…

You can’t find purpose, meaning or identity in life for anything, without knowing the creator

Gen 1 Records that God Created Everything that exists
He Spoke to the Ground and said “Let the earth bring forth all manner of trees and plants”
- Water “Bring forth living creatures, after their kind”
- Same with land creatures
- Same with birds

Everything was created in it’s proper environment, from it’s proper source.

So we find this basic truth in life that…(RECAP)
Everything must remain connected to it’s source, or else it dies

- You take a plant/ Tree out of the earth and see how long it lives
- Fish outta water?
- Try to make a horse live in the water or in the air… won’t work.
- Everything must remain connected to it’s source of life/ environment to survive

Everything else is made after “Their Kind,” but God makes man in His image

When He creates man, he shapes him out of the earth
But man is not alive until God breathes, then man becomes a living soul

So our Source of life/ Original environment was the Spirit of God

The moment that soul was Separated from God because of sin, it began to die.
You can’t experience true life until you come back in contact with the source

You can’t find your identity or your life’s meaning apart from the source

And if you want Real Life, You Gotta stay connected to the Source
As Paul said in Acts “For in him we live, move and have our being”

Introduction: the wonder of being human
Who are you? How did you get that identity? What are you here for?
We don’t see dogs or turtles or fish or squirrels or birds or dolphins or chimpanzees ever losing one night's sleep pondering those questions.
We ask these questions.
Only humans kill themselves and kill others when they don't get true and satisfying answers to these questions.

We don’t often find such resoundingly clear answers to all three questions in such a small space as we do in this text this morning. Who am I?
How did I get this identity?
What's it for -- Why am I here – What is my purpose?

So let's take a deep breath this morning
Let’s go back to the beginning as it were –
For the next 2 weeks, Let’s go down to the rock bottom foundational questions of life…
And listen to the Word of God and wonder and stand in awe of what He has to say about these three things.
Who are you?

Keep in mind that Peter is identifying Christ-followers.
This is who you are if you are a Christ-follower.
This is how you got your Gospel Identity.
This is what you are here for and your reason for living...
…a reason you will never find outside of God

First, in Verse 9, he gives 4 ways of describing your identity, answering the question of who you are.
These are not different Identities necessarily, but Different parts of your identity in Christ that make up the whole.
These 4:
*Today we’ll cover 2 of these…
In our text today, 1 Pet. 2:9,10, Peter tells the church…
1. You are a chosen people. The “called out ones” (FAMILY)

We understand that this is a corporate identity.
He's talking about the church -- the true Israel.

Israel was often referred to as the chosen people.
There was no reason the people of Israel should be chosen.
Actually, they didn’t even exist when God chose them to be his people.
His choice began with one man: Abraham.
And through Abraham he began the process of creating a people who were to be his children.
They were family both because they had a common heritage and because God chose them to be family.

Here in this scripture, Peter is saying that the identity of family is no longer exclusive to the Israelites.
All those who have been given new life through Christ are born into the family of God.

This is a common theme throughout the New Testament…
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
Eph. 3:6

You are part of that chosen family!

The Church is a Chosen People/ Family –
We are a new family with God as Father.

Scripture says that Christ is our brother, and that we are co-heirs of the same Father.
We have the same status before God as does Christ.
Even though we do not share the same divine nature as Christ, we, like adopted children, have the same place in His family.
God loves us like he loves Christ and has given us everything we need, because we are His children. (Heb 2:11-17; Rom. 8:16-17)

How does a family act?
Consider all of the One Anothers…
All the New Testament writers refer often to what we are to do to or for ‘one another.’ This concept of ‘one anothering’ is a central feature of New Testament ecclesiology, yet one which receives little attention in contemporary academic discussions.
* be at peace with one another, forgiving, agreeing, humble, accepting, forbearing, living in harmony and greeting with love
* do not judge, lie or grumble
* show hospitality to one another
* confess your sins to one another
* be kind to one another, concerned, devoted, serving and doing good
* instruct and teach one another
* admonish, exhort and stir up one another
* comfort and encourage one another

Reflection questions
1. Which do you think you (as a church and as an individual) are good at?
2. Which do you think you (as a church and as an individual) are not very good at?
3. What stops you (as a church and as an individual) doing more ‘one anothering’?

This isn’t stuff you need to strive and work toward…
If you struggle in any of these areas you don’t need to try & change behavior…
Like we talked about in our last series, we need to aim for our beliefs (About Who God Is & who We Are in Christ)
These are identity issues.
When you understand your identity from a Gospel perspective, behavior will come naturally!

Each of these is really just preaching our Gospel identity to each other in tangible expressions.

(Something we all need to understand: We don’t do things to gain an Identity, earn God’s favor, or feel better about ourselves or prove ourselves to others…

We live these things because we have our identity,
We have Already earned God’s favor,
And because of that we don’t need to prove ourselves to anyone else (because God is Glorious!)

Our words and actions do not lead to an identity, they flow from an identity…

EXP: Paul’s Correctives in scripture Who God Is – Who We Are – What We Should Do…

To be Children of God means we are His offspring – His Kids - who bear His image (John 8:31-47)

In this passage Jesus is saying that you know you are a child of God if we love Jesus and hear his Words.

See also: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” [John 1:11-13]
Anchor’s Family Identity Statement:
Family – We are all children of God who care for each other as a family.
God has always desired a people–an earthly family–who would live in such a way that the world would know what he is like. Jesus said that those who live in his ways and obey his Father are truly his family. Through Jesus we believe we are Children of God and brothers and sisters with each other. As family we see it as our obligation to personally care for the needs of one another (-) – both physically and spiritually. We disciple, nurture and hold each other accountable to this Covenant life together. We do this through regular celebration gatherings and consistent involvement in a DNA group.
(Genesis 12:1-3; John 1:12-13; Romans 12:10-16)
So, what does it mean for the Church to be the Family of God?

This family is not based on race or gender, age or social standing!
The chosen family is not descended from racial lines here on the earth that we are familiar with…
The chosen family is a new people from all the peoples -- all the colors and cultures – all walks of life, who are now foreigners and strangers among in the world.

See verse 11, "Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and strangers . . ."

What gives us our identity is not color or culture… we aren’t Christians by name, or by social standing…
But by who we identify with….
{The Colts finally won a super-bowl a while back!!!!
I remember seeing a news report on the internet…
(T-shirts… “We Did It!”…
What did you do?
You didn’t catch a TD Pass from Peyton Manning.
Tony Dungie doesn’t even know your name.
What did you do?

But the problem was I didn’t see the beauty of that statement.
And the statement was:
“Hey, We Did It because of who We Identify with.”
You did it, but you didn’t do it!
You got victory, but it wasn’t something you earned, but something that was earned for you.
This is the heart of the Gospel.
We aren’t great on our own…
We did nothing to deserve being called God’s Children
That was something that was done for us…By Jesus Christ
Now we are God’s family because we’ve identified with him,
By giving our lives to Him in faith…
By being baptized in His name…
By receiving His Spirit into our lives

Out from all the cultures & walks of life, we have been chosen as a family…
We leave our old identities behind, and walk in our new Identity…
Paul in Philippians: I count it all but DUNG!
Philipians 3:4-11:
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, (-) not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

To me this is one of the single greatest exposes for finding your true gospel identity…
He essentially says “I lost myself to my self and my past-to be found in Christ!
When he says this– He’s talking about the good things in his past, but this goes for the BAD as well…
Those things in your past you’re holding onto…
Those things you can’t forgive yourself for…
Those things you can’t let go of…
They feel like they have a hold on you…
Other people may know about them…
They may judge you…
You may feel like they are an inseparable part of who you are…
You may see yourself through the lens of the past…
BUT when you come to Christ and give him your whole life and take on his name, the old realities don’t have any jurisdiction over you and your identity any more…
You are a new creation… all the bad of the past…all the good of the past is gone!
You are a new creation in Christ

What do we bring to the table when we sit down w/ the family of God?
The Bible Says in Isaiah, “All our righteousness is like filthy rags…” dirty diapers!

All our accomplishments

All our wealth

All our allegiances

All our family names

All our titles
(You might have more degrees than DR FAHRENHEIT…)
All of that is the old you… it means nothing…
*God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called

The past means nothing…

Because you’ve taken on a family name that is above all other names in the earth

Because you’ve taken on a new citizenship… Jesus is your King, not Obama

Because your wealth & status are not measured by materialistic gain or temporary happiness

Because it’s not about what you have ever done or will ever do, it’s ALL about what He did for you on the Cross and now you’re called worthy and given a new identity in Him
Paul says it this way (Old things have passed away, look, ALL things have become new)

Christ-followers are color-blind… when we see other Christians of different ethnic backgrounds, we shouldn’t see a White or Asian or Black…etc. Christian… we should see our brother & sister.

When we see Christians from different age brackets we shouldn’t see immature young Christians or useless old Christians, but young impressionable brothers and sisters who bear God’s image and share my same heritage, and honorable experienced & wise brothers & sisters/ mothers & fathers who can impart great insight to us and are deserving of great love and care because of their state and their own walk …etc.

When I see Poor or Homeless Christians… what do I see? A brother/ sister in need? Do I see God’s image in them?

What about Rich Christians? Do I despise them? Do I see my brother who God has prospered for His own purposes?

Whenever you run into an issue with other Christians, think about how you’re viewing them… Do you see them as family?
Maybe you didn’t have the best family growing up
Real family…the way it should be…real family forgives…
Real family doesn’t take each other to court…
Real family doesn’t eat each other for dinner
Real family doesn’t cut each other’s lives off when they get angry or hurt at one another…
Real family finds a way to reconcile!

If you get angry, forgive!
If you feel hatred rising up in you, choose love!
(*take a step of love and the feelings will follow)
If you want to cut someone off, reconcile
If you want to destroy, repair
If you want to wound, heal
If you want to walk away, walk toward them…

Live out of love and otherness, not temporary emotions and self-centeredness disguised as self-preservation…
Trust God to preserve you and defend you and avenge you…
Your job is to love without reserve and show grace & mercy as Christ has shown you…

This comes a lot more natural to a family than it does to a church because we haven’t realized our identity… the fact that we are a family.
(We may know it, but there’s a disconnect between our mind and our heart!)

That's why this amazing phrase is crucial for you; you are part of the "chosen family" because the family is made up of individuals who have been called out -- from all the races, families and walks of life.
So your first identity is that you are part of the Chosen Family of God.

You have been adopted by God!

Not because of your race -- or for any other qualification – Still you are His sons & daughters

Who am I? Say “I am a son/daughter of God.”

I do not know why.
It was nothing in me of value above other humans.
I did not earn it or merit it, or meet any conditions to get it.
It was God’s grace alone that allowed me access into this family
I stand in awe of it.
I tremble with joy at it.
I bow and accept it.
I long to be faithful to its purpose.
I am His.

If I act like someone who is not a son/ daughter of God…
If I fail to treat the church like my family…
If I fail to see those in my community as brothers and sisters in
Christ I’m acting out of Character…

You need to get that identity deep into your heart!
You need to let it soak in past your brain
You need to let it invade your heart…
You need to look in the mirror and see a child of God surrounded by a family who love you
You need to let that identity inform your actions and attitudes and decision-making process…

*Discussion Followed...

No comments: