Jesus Church
Hello my name is… Identity
January 17, 2021

Hello my name is… Identity

January 17, 2021   /   Jesus Church

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Hello My Name is… Identity

(Part 2)

Welcome back… welcome online…

Last week we laid the groundwork for our series on Identity/Calling

  • If you missed it… I strongly encourage you to go listen on FB or YT
    • So important b/c our understanding of identity/calling
    • Shapes so much of what we dowho we become
  • And even with Jesus… He is baptized in the Jordan: God declares
    • This is my Son… which was his Identity
    • But Son of God (Messiah)… which was his calling
  • And directly after this Jesus is tested in the wilderness
    • The devil repeated challenges Jesus’ identity/calling
    • Even tempts him to give up for a life less than he was called to

And I believe that is so relevant to each of us

  • Just like Jesus… we are called to pursue our identity/calling
    • To understand WHO we are… also WHO we aren’t
    • To find out what we are called to… and what we aren’t called to
  • And that process of discovery (spiritual formation) can be scary
    • B/C it forces us to look at some unpleasant things in your life
    • Things from our past… tendencies we have… character flaws
    • And that’s not a fun thing to be honest about
  • But what I can promise you… it’s worth it
    • And it will bring healing/freedom/fulfillment like nothing else
    • Because the alternative of a life of avoidance
    • Will never bring you into all that Jesus has called you to

Today we are gonna start by going back to this story of Jesus

  • B/C like any good literature… there are layers to this story
    • So I want to read that story again
    • But this time go a little deeper

Matt. 3:13-17 (NKJV)


Story: Growing up I was primarily a soccer player

Freshman and Sophomore years we were state champs

  • Junior year we were in the state semi-finals against our rivals
    • It was a very close game… tied 0-0 most of it
    • Late in 2nd half – I came thru the box… goalie had fallen down
    • So open net… but the ball was up around my waste
      • I couldn’t get to it (slow mo) and I run into the goal post
      • Ball goes out of bounds
  • Fans in the stands… I couldn’t believe it… Low point in my career
    • But still no one scored – we are now in injury time
    • We have a corner kick… I’m playing off the far post
    • Ball comes through… right to me… of the bounce
      • Kicked it in for the game winning goal
  • I was so happy… redeemed myself… not the failure of the game
    • And over the loud speaker the announce exclaims
    • And with the goal we celebrate our very own Kevin Rech!!!

All I could think was NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

  • I redeemed myself and I want my recognition
    • I didn’t wanna be known not as choke artist… but game winner
    • The voice in the sky needed to say MY NAME… confirm me!!!!
      • B/C in that moment… it’s where I held my identity
  • Now in story of Jesus… Heavens open… voice of God from Heaven
    • Where does Jesus get his identity from
    • Heaven – More specifically: From the voice of the Spirit of God


As Xian where is ur identity/calling coming from

  • Is it from heaven and the voice of God or something closer to Earth
    • And the reality is for most… identity isn’t grounded in eternal
    • For many it’s mostly found in the temporal

Some get identity from performance: I am what I do

What’s the 1st question ur asked at a party where u meet new people

  • “What do you do”… I sorta love that question (gets a bad rap)
    • Often people answer that with a “Resume”
    • Easy to realize for many… its not just a job/career
      • It’s an identity
  • We live in a world that has been coined the “Achievement society”
    • And we live in a time where max potential more attainable
      • Than any other time in human history
      • Yet… mental illness is thru the roof (not developing world)
      • More money… education… success you have
        • The more odds are mental illness is pressing in

There’s a book called “the burn out society” which says…

Symptoms of depression and feelings of insecurity, inferiority and fear of failure are the hallmarks of our late modern achievement society.

  • And even though it is crippling at a SOUL level…
    • Many get identity from performance
    • I am what I do

Others it possessions: I am what I have/wear/drive

Because we also live in a materialistic society

  • American mantra – Work more… buy more… repeat
    • And w/ the pull away from God in our society
    • The void left is now filled with a world of “THINGS”
  • And with that… materialism has become a kind of religion
    • And with any kind of religion or form of spirituality
    • People will always look to that to find their identity

Think about how people use their car/phone/clothes with identity

  • If you walk in with a expensive suit… nice shoes… tie
    • That’s an identity – Saying I’m a successful business person
    • I’m important… wealthy… sophisticated
  • If you walk in with a bennie… sweatshirt… ragged jeans… tattoo
    • That’s an identity – Post hipster… 20 something…
    • If u want to know that identity more – follow them a bit
      • If they get on bike: Burn the system/I wont be bought
      • If they get in Audi: Run ad agency… used to have bike
        • Now you make $300k a year – Cool

[EXAMPLES] – Clothing / Shoes / Perfume

Point is whatever your example is

  • There’s a difference b/w suburban single family home with yard
    • Condo in downtown Phoenix
    • Or you own 5 acres out off carefree highway
  • Or if you have a mini-van or a motorcycle
    • Had a guy who loved to rev engine at 5am in our neighborhood
    • Not a mode of travel… that’s an identity statement (loud)
    • Not a slam – would love to sleep a bit more… but now I know
  • And for many people things aren’t just things – they’re identities

Still others its pleasure: I am what I want

A cutting example of this… which many shy away from: Sexuality

  • Where some literally define who they are based on sexually desire
    • But the question is… how is this most important thing about u
    • B/C ur desires will never be a large enough platform…
    • To hold a life of meaning/purpose
      • If it is true that Identity/Calling at tied together…
      • This cannot be what defines you
  • And we all have desires (This… Food… Money… Fame… Success)
    • And sure those desires are real > but should they define you
    • Because they aren’t the truest thing about you
    • And your identity/calling will falter if they are

Popularity: I am what people think of me

Some of us just live life to please others… “what do they think of me”

  • Some just walk into a room (zero in on everyone who is in need)
    • And have a desire to make sure every one of them is happy
    • Happy with you… with themselves… with the world
    • And if they aren’t… you can’t live with it
      • And while compassion is good… Spiritual gift
      • That gift is give by God… it cannot replace God
  • If you’re biggest fear is what other people think about you
    • And your identity is grounded in the daily emotions of others
    • You are probably constantly exhausted

Or maybe you have a desire to project a certain image to others

  • So u have to work hard to sell yourself as the way u wanna be seen
    • (Gym) I have absolutely no clue what 2 do… but I’ll pretend I do
      • Don’t want to be the guy at the gym that looks like a noob
      • Someone has pitty: That’s for ur calves not ur shoulders
  • It’s this desire to be seen a certain way
    • And it is easy to allow that “way” to define who you are
    • And the more success at it… the deeper those roots go

Think of how peoples emotional state rises & falls based on “likes”

  • And they have 100 selfies on their page…98 are the exact same…
    • Just a different place and clothes
    • And on one hand its like… wow they must really like themselves
  • But honestly on some level there is a deep cry for attention there
    • Look at me… notice me… affirm me… approve of me
    • And I’ll do whatever I need to in order to gain that

[TAG] But its a strong sign that they find identity in what others think

Point: Many places people get identity & calling from

And the danger – Whether your identity is tied to…

  • (1) Your SELF WORTH – I matter b/c I’m a doctor… lawyer… Pastor
  • (2) Your SECURITY – Feel safe b/c I can count on these things
    • I have a roof over my head… job… health… 5-year plan
      • We gravitate to these because we want to feel secure
  • (3) Your HAPPINESS – I’m happy because…
    • I got an iPhone 12 finally – Take pictures in the dark now!!!
    • I got my PS5
    • I got my stimulus check so now I can get both of those things

But the danger is… all of those identities can be taken away

  • In fact some of those identities WILL be taken away with age
    • And without that thing u identify with… who are you
      • If you “Are what u do” what happens when u lose your job
      • I can’t tell you how many pastors I see struggle with this
  • Who are you without ur possessions… popularity… fill in the blank
    • When you lose your truck
    • Or when you go bald
  • And all of these identities according to Jesus are shifting sand
    • This is why one of key tasks in following Jesus
    • Get your identity & calling from HEAVEN not EARTH

And of course Jesus has his moment… but he’s Jesus

And I think it’s a little easier to come out of the Jordan

  • Heavens open… voice from heaven… holy moment
    • So why can’t I just come up out of the bathtub
    • God talks through the shower faucet
  • But it’s not like that… this story is about Jesus… not me (or is it?)

Eph. 1:1-14 (Written by Paul – Ground zero on theology of identity)

  • Notice 1 thing – Key phrase “En Christo” in Greek or “In Christ”
    • It’s the theme throughout Ephesians and used over 150 times
    • It is Paul’s favorite way to talk about YOUR identity
  • In systematic theology this is called “Incorporation” or “Union”
    • Basic idea – In baptism (Matt 28 – In name of Father/Son/H.S)
    • When you are baptized… become follower of Jesus
      • In that moment u are incorporated into union w/ Christ
      • AND everything true about Jesus is now true about you
  • The key to wrapping ur mind around this is the word CHRIST
    • Greek translation of the Hebrew word: Mashiach or Messiah
    • In English we think “last name of Jesus”
    • What it is actually saying is “Messiah”
      • Which was the long prophesied king to come for Israel
      • To represent Israel to God and the World

NT Wright

When Paul speaks of us as being “In Christ” the center of what he means is that… the king represents his people, so that what happens to him happens to them, and what is true of him is true of them. Think of David fighting Goliath. David was representing Israel; he had already been anointed as king, and it wasn’t long after his victory before people realized that he was the one who would lead Israel into God’s future. So with us: Jesus has won the decisive victory over the oldest and darkest enemy of all, and if we are ‘in him’, ‘in the king,’ ‘in Christ,’ we shall discover step by step what that means.

That is an amazing metaphor – David and Goliath

  • In that moment David’s victory… and it was David’s victory
    • What we have to realize – David’s village was next on the road
    • Meaning if David lost – entire family would be slaughtered
    • And then the rest of his tribe… and then all of Israel
  • In that moment David’s victory became all of Israel’s victory
    • In the same way through Jesus… the king of the world
    • His victory (what the cross/rez) has become our victory
      • His freedom has become our freedom…
      • His Kingdom is now our Kingdom
  • Very simply put… what is true about Christ is true about you
    • Its where we get the saying: “When God see’s u he see’s Jesus”
    • It’s true – When he see’s you… Its you incorporated with Christ
    • He see’s THAT as your identity

Look at all the identity statements we just read (all true in Christ)

  • Verse 3:
    • Blessed with every Spiritual Blessing
  • Verse 4:
    • Chosen before the creation of the world
    • Holy
    • Blameless
  • Verse 5-6
    • Loved
    • Predestined
    • Adopted as sons and daughters
    • Under God’s pleasure
    • In God’s will
    • To the praise of his glorious grace
  • Verse 7-8
    • Redeemed
    • Forgiven
    • Rich in God’s grace
    • Wise and understanding
    • Aware of the mystery of Christ
  • Verse 11-12
    • Chosen
    • Predestined
    • For the praise of his glory
  • Verse 13-14
    • Included
    • Saved
    • Sealed with the Holy Spirit
    • God’s possession
  • Verse 15
    • In line for an inheritance
    • For the praise of his glory


This is who you are in Christ

  • But maybe you are thinking in your head as I say these things
    • That’s not me… you don’t know what I did last week
      • I’m not Holy
      • I’m not Blameless
      • I’m not Chosen… don’t feel included…
    • So how is any of this true of me
      • Remember that this is who you are “IN CHRIST”
      • Everything true about Christ is true about you
  • Christ is holy… guess what – You are Holy (if/when you’re in Christ)
    • Christ is blameless – You are too (if/when you are in Christ)

Not only true theologically – becoming true in reality

Theologian George Lad – Coined term “now & not yet Kingdom of God”

  • Sometimes Jesus used language: Kingdom of God as if its NOW
    • Sometimes he used it as if its not here yet
    • So which one is it… YES
      • It’s here in part – But not yet here in full
      • For that we need to wait until Jesus returns
  • Lad and others uses this framework of Now/Not Yet
    • Put it on a line with the writings of Ephesians
    • Coined another phrase: Escatelogical Realism
      • Escatan – Having to do with future
      • Realism – Having to do with reality
  • Basic idea is this
    • You are in the process of becoming who u really are in Christ
    • Ur identity isn’t rooted in ur past, or ur present, but ur future
      • This is how identity works in the New Testament

So not only is identity rooted in Christ (not performance/possessions)

  • Also ur identity is rooted in the future – not the past or present
    • For most… identity isn’t rooted in Christ anyways > its in Earth
    • Then… even if identity is rooted in Christ
      • It’s based on past… who we were
      • Or its based on the present… who we are
      • Not on the future…. Who we are becoming
  • So if you ask me (Aaron) “Who are you”… odds are I’ll say
    • My past rooted in the earth: I was kid in school… this happened
      • But that’s not who I am not… not who I am becoming
      • That’s actually who I was
    • Or present rooted in the earth: I’m high stressed… quickly mad
      • Notice what that is > identity rooted in my present
      • And that might be true…. But is it truest thing about me
  • What if my identity was rooted in Christ – Not in past or present
    • What if it was rooted in the future… who I am becoming
    • Aaron who are you – I am the son of God the Father
      • Back from the dead – million years from now – healthy
      • This is who I am
  • Now by timeline… that isn’t who I am yet
    • But that is who I am becoming in Christ… and you are too

Now b4 we end – Lets make sure we are clear

Point here is NOT to shrug off sin – Or minimize it at all

  • Nothing will warp identity/sabotage call of God on ur life like sin
    • If you redefine good & evil – Think you know better than God
    • And you let what God calls evil into your life (call it good)
    • It will warp – infect – destroy you from the inside out
  • And this way of doing identity – Who ur becoming in Christ
    • It has all sorts of implications for sin/life/do & do not live

First 3 chapters Paul goes off on identity – Not one command until Ch. 4

  • So Paul starts of with the “This is who you are”
    • And follows that up with “b/c of that… this is what u do(n’t) ”
    • Here is your calling
  • And idea is what you do flows out of who you are
    • What u do flows out of truth or lies u believe about who u are

Eph. 4:1

  • Then he gives command after command after command
    • Humble – Gentle – Patient – At Peace – In Unity
  • But what is the FIRST command given after identity established
    • Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called
    • This is who u are becoming… now live up to it!

Easy to misread Paul – Its like… [EXAMPLE]

  • Saving Private Ryan – Spoiler (but you’ve had 25 years to watch it)
    • At the end Private Ryan is saved… tons of people die
      • But movie ends with Private Ryan in his 60’s… WWII Vet
      • He’s in a cemetery at his captain’s grave
    • Breaks down… says “I hope I’ve earned what u did for me”
      • Turns to his wife… says “Tell me I’ve lived a good life”
      • And it’s this haunting ending… not really a good ending
        • He’s alive but so many people died
    • Living under weight of expectation from what was sacrificed
      • Did I earn it… did I measure up
  • I don’t think what Paul is saying here by – Live life worth of calling
    • I don’t think he is saying… Go out & earn what was paid for you
    • You better pay off every penny of his sacrifice with ur actions
  • He is saying… You have a high/holy calling & identity before God
    • Don’t waste your life on anything less

I think (by way of analogy) about my wedding day [PIC]

  • We were young/clueless… Michelle just turned 22…I just turned 25
    • So we are in college – Michelle is really my first relationship
    • I had sooooo much to learn… still do
  • But when Michelle’s dad said “I pronounce u husband/wife”
    • How good was I at being a husband (not good at all)
      • But in that moment I still became a husband
      • And I will never be less of a husband or more of a husband
    • I can be good or bad… but my status is the same
      • I will spend rest of life learning how to be who I already am
      • Learning to live up to calling I already have on my life

Or I think of when Joey was born… I was 27

  • How much did I know about parenting… being a dad (little bit)
    • Remember driving home from hospital in the snow
    • Thinking: They let u take a human being home… should not be
  • And even though I had no clue what I was doing
    • I will never become more of a father or less
    • My status as a father is unquestioned… I am Joey’s dad
    • And I will spend rest of my life learning to be who I already am
      • Learning to live up to what is already true of me

Do you see pattern: Whole new way of doing identity

Where identity isn’t found in instability of what u do/have/others think

  • But in WHO you are becoming in Christ
    • It’s not rooted in your past… who you were
    • It’s not rooted in your present… what you deal with now
  • When you start to see you the way God sees you
    • And you start to grasp God’s eyes FOR your identity
    • That right there… is a turning point in any life
  • When u think of identity… what’s the 1st thing that comes to mind
    • Is it: I am a son/daughter of the King… deeply loved by God

And your mind will fight you… I’m an addict… liar… druggy… bad person

  • True… but think about how the father approaches us
    • He loves us into our futures
    • Like any good parent does… speaking words (prophetic) of
      • Identity… calling
      • And it shapes who you became
  • This is why its so crucial that we speak life over our children
    • Because it will shape who they become
    • And we must, like our heavenly Father… speak life over them
    • This is who you are… that’s not… but this is who u are becoming
  • This is what God does over and over again
    • That isn’t who you are… those thoughts are not your identity
    • Look… that’s who you are
    • And let me give you this plethora of writings about Jesus
      • In whom you get to identify with


  • And sometimes we fail… epically… and for that we need to repent
    • But that’s not who you are / who u are becoming
    • And the invitation of the Father – Son – Spirit is to be who u are
    • Learning to hope in your future… one day at a time



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