What is our identity in Christ?
As I write this, I have already preached my final sermon at the First Baptist Church of Dillwyn.
I am no longer considered a pastor. I have made the transition to Hospice chaplain for Heartland in Lynchburg. We bought a house there. We will move there. And now I no longer have to ready a sermon each and every Sunday.
Some might feel a loss of identity.
I have been candid about my new role in life. Let’s talk about our identity.
While watching a football game on television, have you ever noticed someone holding a sign that reads “John 3:16?”
It’s one of the most memorized verses in the Bible. It communicates a great truth. In that one verse we learn that God loves us, Jesus died for us, and we can have eternal life through Him. Yet, interestingly enough, I’ve never seen someone holding up a sign that reads “Luke 9:23.” Luke 9:23 also records Jesus’ words.
I can understand why no one would paint that verse on a sign and hold it up for all to see. It really doesn’t make a very appealing advertisement for Christianity. In fact, it might make it difficult to recruit new Christians. Some might even skip over this verse, kinda like skipping over the vegetables in an all you can eat buffet.
But the truth is that John 3:16 and Luke 9:23 go together in order for there to be an accurate understanding of the gospel’s invitation. John 3:16 emphasizes believing. Luke 9:23 focuses on following. Those two things are necessary and must go together. There is no believing without following.
So, what are Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 9:23?
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
These verses describe in expressive detail what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus began this verse with these two words: “If anyone …”
Anyone is a significant word because it makes clear whom Jesus is inviting. He was inviting anyone. Anyone is an all-inclusive word. Anyone means everyone. There are no qualifiers, no conditions and no list of requirements. Jesus offered an open invitation to anyone. Yet we often feel like we have to clean up our act, get dressed up, get our lives straightened out, and then we can come to Christ. Not so. Jesus issued an open invitation.
Those words and the rest of the verse give us our identity in Jesus.
What would happen if everyone who professed to be a follower of Jesus disappeared?
That’s what the enemy of God wants, to limit Jesus’ impact through his followers — us. He wants to steal our identities. Don’t let the enemy do that.
This was a revisit of my first devotional printed in May 2017. Thank you for our time together.
REV. JOHN MOXLEY can be reached at Jmoxleydillwyn@gmail.com.