This week’s podcast is “Identity in Christ”, I’ll share it at the end of the article. I listened to it Sunday night after Gabe, our editor, finished with it.
Honesty alert: I REALLY needed to hear the words on the podcast. I was raised in a family with an amazing work ethic. I fall into the trap of putting my identity in what I can or cannot do. That’s a dangerous place to park a principle.
I know that I am saved by grace. It’s not because I did something wonderful. It’s not because I have some great strength. I love the way the Message in puts it – “My silly foolish Galatians…”. I could replace that with my name. “My silly foolish Kathleen…”
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! Galatians 1: 2-4
Yikes. I am often so busy working my head off to please God that I forget the principles of God’s kingdom –
By His grace I am saved.
He will do the work.
My job is obedience.
My job is to believe.
My job is to worship and glorify Him.
I try running the race by my works and run around the ‘works’ track until I am tired, frustrated and overwhelmed. How about you?
Maybe you are thinking, wait, faith without works is dead. I agree. We must do the work.
What is the work?
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6: 28, 29
I’m going to admit something. I am much better at running around and doing than I am believing. I’m a control freak. I would rather run around and get my ducks in a row, get your ducks in a row and then go down to the duck pond and organize them. Maybe God allowed me to have CFS so I couldn’t do all of that.
I’ve had some difficult physical symptoms and circumstances this past month because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You can listen to the podcast episode on that here. Because of some symptoms, I have had to keep my margins pretty wide. In simple terms, that means not do much outside the home. If you don’t have CFS, this may sound foreign to you. That’s okay. We all have limitations and circumstances that may keep us from doing the work we desire to do. If you do have CFS or another autoimmune disease, you know. You just know.
The other day, I was asked to do something for kiddos that I have wanted to do for years. It would require energy. Lots of it. I wanted to immediately respond “Yes!” Instead, I said I would give an answer in a few days, the quiet voice in my spirit said “NO”. The other part of me said, “I have to do it!” I even went so far as asking people to help me which was my version of “reasoning contrary to the truth”. The truth is, with my limited energy envelope, I could not do the job with excellence. Not only that, if I accepted the assignment, I would use every last iota of my energy and risk a major crash afterwards. I have gone that route too many times.
When I say no to something, I often struggle with my identity/reputation.
- If she really cares about ___________, then she would be on board.
- If she were really committed to the cause, she would do it.
- She talks a good game, but she won’t do the work.
This past Sunday, I hadn’t given my answer yet. I was singing in the choir and just worshiping God (oh, and begging him to let the cup of CFS pass me by once and for all). When I finally got to the place of surrender, tears streaming down my face and the Holy Spirit said to me, “You are not the savior. I am. You are not the solution to the problem. I am.”
Blessed relief. I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to be it all. My identity is not in what I can and cannot do. It is in Christ. We often quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” as a blanket mantra. It’s not. We can’t. Taken out of context, that verse can become a platform for our identity in works, i.e. what we can do. In the Amplified Bible, that verse is clarified – the works He has called us to do and those which fulfill His purpose.
If you, like me struggle with putting your identity in what you can do, take a minute and think it through. If our value is only in what we can do, then what about those who can’t do? Are they valuable? Infants. Toddlers. Elderly. Those who are ill. When I break it down to simple terms, everyone has value. Every life is valuable aside from work. It’s a humanistic principle that says those who can’t work don’t deserve to live. It’s Christian principle to say that every life has value. When we base our value on what we can do, our value at some point will change. When our identity and value come from Christ, it will never change.
You can to listen to this week’s podcast here.