Sunday, July 19, 2009

Identity Crisis (pt 2): A Family of Ambassadors


This series is seeking to answer 3 questions:
Who am I?
How did I get this identity?
What's it for -- Why am I here – What is my purpose?

Last week we discussed the human Identity crisis….

The fact that many people seek to find their identity in places other than Christ.

Most people look for their identity by attempting to blend into the world … or stand out from the crowd around them.

They believe the lies of the culture that being “this way”… or doing “these things”… will bring satisfaction… will give your life meaning

Many of us are defined by what’s around us or by what we believe is inside us, instead of who God made us?

I remember hearing a story about the famous artist, Michelangelo:

When the he was once asked the secret of his masterful sculpturing, Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
God has planted his own image within us (Imago Dei)
He has given us an Identity…

What does it take to free that so we stop seeing ourselves as blocks of stone, and begin realizing who God has made us to be?
I’ve seen areas in my life…in my past, where God was chipping away at parts of me that I didn’t want to lose
He’s done this through relationships with others…
Through trials and temptations and struggles…
And he’s done this to show me that that piece wasn’t actually part of my identity…
I was such a “block-head” that I saw myself as the piece of marble…
God see’s the Identity in the marble!
Many of the situations we complain about in life are there for our benefit, to open our eyes to reality…
The reality of Who God is…
The reality of who he created us to be…
He’s working to set you free… embrace the process…

You can’t find your true identity outside of God
You can’t find purpose outside the creator

Many of us have found identity in our past accomplishments and/or failures

I’m a Doctor.
I’m a college-dropout
I’m a Homeless Person
I’m a Rebel
I’m a Surfer
I’m a Christian…
We throw all those things in there like we’re card-carrying members…

If we’re not careful, being a Christ-follower just slips into the pile of our identities instead of being our primary way of seeing ourselves

I love the way Paul looks at it (Again we’re reviewing last week here)

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.

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…

We lose those things when we come to Christ
What does he call them?

What is that??? (Wait for Audience Participation)

Yesterday’s food!
The things that gave me sustenance yesterday…
Those things that WERE a source of life to me…

Now they’ve lost their nutritious ability…
Now they weigh me down

I need to LOSE Them… or at least lose my self to them and find myself in Christ!

Now Christ is what sustains me…
Christ is my source of life
I find everything I need in Him
I find my TRUE Identity (What I was created to be) IN HIM

Your past successes… your past failures… they mean nothing.

We find ourselves in Christ

If we find our ID through anything besides what God has done, we’re off…
IT ALL STARTS WITH GOD (& ends with God)

Luther said the 1st commandment is the gospel – “You should have no other gods before me” is the same as, “You shall have no other justification for your life, your righteousness, your significance, your security etc… other than me.”

How is your life reflecting that you believe Jesus did enough to save you @ the cross?

- That you don’t have to prove yourself to yourself or anyone else because God is Gracious and He’s already accepted you perfectly…
- That you don’t have to be in control or stress or manage ever yarea of your life because God is Great & Sovereign & In control and you can rest in that!
- That you don’t have to look anywhere else for satisfaction because God is Good and he’s given you everything you need for your enjoyment…
- That you don’t have to fear rejection or work for acceptance of others because God is Glorious

The more you know God and learn about Him and experience life with Him, the more you will know about yourself and your identity in Him and these realities that we’re speaking of in this series will become SO MUCH More than just words

We pointed out 3 questions we’re seeking to answer with this series

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?

(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.

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:

Last week we discussed the fist one:

1. You are a chosen people. The “called out ones” (FAMILY)

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

Imagine what our community will be like…
What this world could look like…
If everyone started seeing everyone else as family!
If everyone started treating one another like brothers & sisters, fathers and mothers.
If Familial Love defined all our relationships

Maybe you didn’t have the best family growing up
Real family…the way it should be…real family forgives…
Real family may not always agree… BUT
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!
Real family has each other’s backs and looks out for one another
For more of that, tune into the Podcast…
Then we discussed our new Family Identity Statement:

Anchor’s Family Identity Statement:
Family – We are all children of God who care for each other as a family.

Today we are going to keep plowing

2. You are a royal priesthood. The Sent Ones (Ambassadors) Verse 9: "You are a ... royal priesthood."

We are a royal priesthood that extends the message of reconciliation to the world.
We are ministers of reconciliation with the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20

16-So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new has come! 18-All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19-that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20-We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

(Exp: Reconciliation – Garden… Sin entered world.. .all relationships were broken with the curse…God/Others/Creation… One of the main focuses of scripture (through priests and judges and Israel and the church) is our role in reconciling those relationships)

(We express that here @ Anchor as living an Incarnational Lifestyle…
Something you’ve seen a few times if you’ve been around here a bit..
We try to reconcile others to God through communion – relating to God-, reconcile relationships between ourselves through community, and reach, repair, and reconcile the world through our commission)

You are part of the chosen family of God that has been sent on a mission in this world. (Ambassadors)

All your life is priestly service.
Are you ever out of God's presence?
Are you ever in a neutral zone?
(EXP: Remember Sam M’s Sermon a few months back on What happens in Vegas… There is no “Neutral Zone…There is no place where God loses Jurisdiction… He’s God of every area…)
You are always in the presence of God
You are always in the court of the temple.
And your entire life is either a spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1-2), or it is out of character.

So you can see that your identity -- the question , "Who are you?" -- leads directly to the question, "What are you here for?".
Your identity leads to your destiny.
You are chosen to minister as priests.
And the heart of that ministry Peter describes for us very clearly.

“To show forth the praises of Him who called you out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light”
That doesn’t just mean we come and sing praise songs on Sunday
What does it mean to “SHOW FORTH PRAISES?”
“To glorify God… “

What is that? Glory?
Churchy term… Southern Baptist preachers say, “GLORY!”
What does it mean?
It means the ‘heaviness’…’the weightiness’… ‘the fullness’…
‘The Ultimate Reality’…
When It says Jesus was the Glory of God, What’s it saying?
Ultimate reality of God… He displayed it.

When we are supposed to glorify God, that doesn’t mean we walk around saying, “Oh Glory!”
It means we Say what’s true of Him…
What’s ultimate reality about God…that’s what the word Glory means
To GLORIFY is to manifest the It’s to manifest the hidden excellence and worth of an object

Our Job is to display, by any means possible…even our very lives, God’s Glory… To reconcile people to God

What do priests do?

A priest in any culture, especially the culture of the Bible has been the person who has connected people around them with a God they were disconnected to… Reconciliation
The difference is the priest used to minister in a tabernacle/ temple (seen as the place where heaven touched earth… where God connected with mankind…)

Now the New Testament is filled with scriptures pointing to the fact that “God does not live in temples made by hands, but in man… and that, once we have given our everything to God, and receive His Spirit into our lives, we are now “temples of the Holy Spirit” and we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price, so now we are supposed to glorify God with our bodies and spirits which are God’s

Now you are a priest ministering in a tabernacle, connecting people to God…
You are an ambassador on mission, reconciling people to God, showing them a picture of God through your life, words, and actions
Announcing the kingdom with your words and your very life
Bringing people in contact with The creator and King

You’re an ambassador!

“I’m not here for my purposes, I’m here for God’s purposes”
That is my priority…
That’s the lens I see my life through…

This was the concept of what a missionary was…
How does a good missionary act? Like an ambassador!

What does a missionary/ ambassador do when they go to a country?
They learn the language and cultural customs of the group of people they have been called to.
They eat their food.
They wear their clothes.
They take the Gospel message and contextualize it for that culture in terms people can understand.
None of you have a problem with that.
You say, “Well sure…They’re going to China.”

Well same thing if they’re going to Indie-Rock Culture, or Hip Hop Culture, or Techie Culture.
If they’re going out into the Suburbs with families, or into the city with all of us crazies…
We have to find a way to speak and live that contextualizes the gospel where they can relate to in their culture

We don’t try to make them fit our mold.
If we aren’t careful we’ll want people to get saved and fit into our church’s culture… like our kind of music…watch our kinds of movies OR Speak our language
Jesus went to their culture.
He hung out with the low-life’s of his society….
The religious people were the ones having a cow.

So, if we are His Ambassadors, What does San Diego Culture look like?

Here’s some stats:

We have many different cultures in our area:

Hispanic 891,442 29%
White 1,577,029 51%
Black 163,766 5%
American Indian 15,942 < age=" 32.5" sd=" 7th" income =" $66,715" christians =" 5%" style="font-weight: bold;">Ephesians 6:19-20
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The Gospel Changes the entire way we live…
Not more activities, but an entirely different perspective on why we even do our activities…
Living “missionally” doesn’t mean we add a bunch more stuff to our lives…
It doesn’t necessarily mean we spend more time or money…
It MEANS we do everyday things in different ways and with different intentions because we’ve been changed

The Gospel has informed us of who we are in Christ and changed us.
Now we do everyday things with Gospel intentionality

When The Gospel gets into the heart of Who you are, it will be at the heart of everything you do

Gospel Intentionality will be naturally flow out of your identity!

What does that mean: “Gospel Intentionality?”

Let your life preach a sermon to everyone around you…

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel… and when necessary use words” – St. Francis

If you have a small garden in your front yard, cultivate it as a Gospel metaphor of what God’s done in your life, for all your neighbors to see a visual message

We hang out with our friends who don’t know Christ and let our actions… they way we speak and act and love… declare a message of God’s Glory…

We minister to our world by repairing the brokenness…

We walk down the street and see through the eyes of Jesus

If the Curse of sin had never entered creation, and nothing needed to be reconciled what would these people be like, what would these buildings look like… Now How can I, empowered by the Gospel, begin to bring that change… begin to create THAT Culture
Every moment of everyday
It’s not work… it’s my nature… it’s my identity in Christ

Anchor’s Ambassador Identity Statement:
Ambassadors – We are sent by God to restore all things to Him through Jesus Christ.

God sent his son, Jesus, to Earth to take on human form and live within the culture. He worked, ate and interacted among the people; living in such a way that those around him could see and experience what God was truly like. Jesus came so that all people, places and things (-) could be restored to a right relationship with God. In the same way, we believe we are Ambassadors sent into our culture to restore all things to God through Jesus. We live this out through involvement in a missional community. (John 1:14; 20:21; Colossians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
What does it mean for the Church to be the Ambassadors of God?

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