In the movie, We Were Soldiers, Mel Gibson plays the role of a commanding officer leading a platoon into a strategic Vietnam conflict that would last all day and through night. One soldier deployed came in armed with only a camera. His role was to be a journalist. He was fourth generation army but wanted to understand this conflict through a different lens. But, as the battle waged on through the night, taking fire from all directions and enemy breaking through lines, he could no longer be just an observer. Whether he wanted to or not, He was in the fight when he thought he was only going to write about it.
Similarly, I often find myself wanting to somehow be a ‘consciousious observer’ about the Christian life. Yet, I’m reminded that Christ's story is more than just something done for me on my behalf to inspire me to be a better person. Since Christ lives in me, Christ's story becomes my story – something I’m called to live into (Col.1:27). It’s tempting to think He died so I don’t have to. He forgave, so I don’t have to. He healed so I don’t have to. But that’s not the gospel. By His wounds, I’m healed. We’re called to follow Christ—to be in the arena not in the stands.
Following Christ is affords one a new identity, thought it's not automatic either. It takes believing and accepting and learning to see ourselves as God sees us in Christ. What’s interesting is how the New Testament writers continually announce who you now are in Christ, a new creation (II Cor.5:17) as renewed, restored, reconciled. Most people are “pushed” from their past (ie regrets, mistakes, shame). But the past only describes us. Our past shouldn’t define us. The New Testament writers believe that if people keep learning who they are “in Christ", they’ll know what to do! In fact, The Apostle Paul always describes people as “saints", never sinners. He calls himself the, “chief of sinners” but says I’m not who I was.
When we're firmly grounded in Christ — as a new creation — we're now free to deal with our sin because our identity (& worth) is not in question.