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Identity In Christ

Adopted.

Adopted.

Growing up, I always wanted to be older. But then, I ended up longing for the days of sleeping in, prepared food, and little-to-no responsibilities. Over time, I got to play with the “big kids”, sit at the “grown-ups table”, make plans, and earn money. The chance to participate, be trusted, helpful, independent, and contribute always signals our coming of age. We all know what it means to be a child. We know what it means to have to grow up, not want to grow up, maybe even not be allowed to grow up. I think it’s fair to say that learning to act our age is really a lifelong adjustment.

Growing up spiritually means we’re “adopted”, through Christ, as God’s sons and daughters. This spiritual adoption can offer a life-changing perspective in how we respond to grace and salvation.

Paul writes to a group of young Christians in Galatia about coming of age, spiritually. He contrasts an impulsive child with a strong young man who accepts responsibilities of adulthood. We tend to think of being a child of God as helpless or only able to receive. However, the word, ‘adoption’ in scripture actually means the “placement an adult son”. In other words, God ‘adopts’ or ‘saves’ us with the idea that we grow and mature into trusted contributors in God’s salvation on earth.

In his book, Becoming Who God Intended, David Eckmann highlights “a crucial difference between the ancient world and the modern world…they rarely adopted babies, but instead they adopted adults. When a childless couple was getting so old that any possibility of child-bearing was gone, if well-off, they would legally adopt a young man whom they loved and trusted to take over the family business and handle the family wealth. This was so the couple would be taken care of in their old age.”

Similarly, God has placed us in a family – with Christ – and wants us to live with a new identity. We are invited to come of age as a trusted heir! Friends, our Heavenly Father looks to adopt not as a helpless, consuming child. Rather, we’re invited to be valued contributors a part of the Father’s business. Mission Hills began with the hope of helping you “come of age” wherever you are in a journey of faith. We want to think differently in how we experience, teach, show, share, and leverage God’s love through a Living Faith…in Austin as it is in Heaven.

Wake Up Call

Are you a morning person? Does the prospect of a new day or getting up early for a few quiet moments excite you? After all, who doesn’t love a scenic morning sunrise? The only problem with early mornings is…well, that they’re early. 

The Psalms often speak about the writer getting up early in the morning and seeking after the Lord. 

The Gospels constantly record Jesus getting up early, before the rising of the sun, and going to quiet and secluded places. 

What's interesting about these “secluded” places is that the original Greek word used there is the same word used in Luke 4 to describe the “wilderness” where the Spirit led Jesus before the temptations happened. 

Pastor and Author Mike Breen suggests, It’s as if scripture is suggesting that every day our first battle is to travel back to the wilderness, to the place of wrestling with identity, to relocate who I am and whose I am. Everyday we must be reminded, “This is who you are!” (Multiplying Missional Leaders, p.43)

Every day we wrestle with identity, and every day there is an open invitation to have our character refined in the wilderness, where there is only our Heavenly Father to sustain us. The wilderness is where no one else can see us, where our Father reminds us that we are his dearly loved children and that nothing can change that. We are in a series entitled, “I Am Changes Who I am”, which highlights seven, self-defining “I am…” statements by Jesus. When we become a Christian, God sees us in a whole new way. He sees us in light of Christ. When we become one with Christ, God sees us as His child too. To be "in Christ” as the Apostle Paul often writes, is to have a whole new identity. Knowing that just might change the way I wake up. 

Swimming by faith.

We never learn to swim in the shallow end. We get wet. We might even find relief. We can have fun splashing. We might even let our heads go underwater. But until we’re willing to get in the deep end, do we ever learn to stay afloat. We can only learn to tread when we can no longer touch. And it’s when we learn to swim that we can make any progress, find safety — or even better — save another who might be drowning. Learning to swim in the deep end of crisis, loss, injustice, uncertainty, and hardship is where we are transformed.

Every story of the bible that speaks to the great faith of God’s people involved transformation by being thrown into the deep end. After all, who wants the story of Noah without the flood…Daniel without the lion’s den…David without Goliath…or Jesus without the Cross?!?!?  It’s only when we’re willing to wade past where we feel like we’re in control that we are actually transformed. (Hebrews 11 lists a lot of triumphs but also ones who endured a lot.)

Understanding one's identity in Christ is perhaps the most transformational idea to grasp for every Christian. It uncovers the sacred lens that God views us rather than the perspective we have of ourselves. The fundamental theme of scripture is to be ‘One with God’. Like a marriage covenant, we have access to the same resources. We take on a new name. We make decisions not as ME but as WE. We learn to see ourselves in light of who Christ is. And so does our Heavenly Father. When we choose to become a Christian, God sees us in light of who Christ is, not as we are. To be “in Christ”, is to be a new creation. And the more we understand our identity, the more we understand our purpose. It’s my hope that our Rhythms of Generosity, Hospitality, Community, Renewal, Apprenticing, Gratitude, & Compassion — combined with the Holy Spirit — can be part of God’s transformation in each of us. Hopefully, that sounds like Good News!