Finding My Identity in Christ
Text: Matthew 11:25-30; 1Cor 4:3-5
Watch on YouTube HERE
Introduction: Two basic strategies used by people to discover their identity.
- Look Outward: Trusting the Social World to Define Me
- The Issue: my feelings & desires often do not fit the role I am given.
- Look Inward: Trusting my Feelings and Desires to Define Me
- The Issue: I still need to find people around me who validate my worth and value, and I do not want to lose their approval.
Explore the Text: Trusting Jesus
Jesus saw the suffering & confusion caused by both strategies and invited people to another way. Mt. 11:25-30 (also see the beatitudes)
- Jesus Invites Us to Know Him & the Kingdom of Heaven Come Near.
- The Issue: Will I Trust Him to Teach Me to Live a Life with God?
- Not focused on church trends & fads or the slogans of the day.
Avoiding Jesus’ Invitation: Using the Strategies I Learned from the World.
- A church defines who God is and designs my life as a good member.
- Specializing in my church’s primary proof texts, becoming a specialist in them, & ignoring texts that question my assumptions.
- Not reading the Bible with an openness to do what is says.
- Why? Because the institution pressures those who do not conform.
- Evangelizing others to the good news about my great church.
- Evaluation: Counting baptisms, attendance, giving, and programs.
- My religious feelings define who God is and determine the life I live.
- Finding educated thinkers who assure me that I am right and show me sophisticated ways to work around texts I do not like.
- Finding new texts to rationalize what I feel and desire to do.
- Finding a church that assures me that all is good.
- Evangelizing others to the good news of the kingdom my way.
- Evaluation: I’m feeling better!
- Both avoid the risen Jesus because both add a religious veneer to mask the two strategies the world advocates for determining who we are.
Accepting Jesus’ Invitation as a Trusting Child
- Humbled by my failures: Discovering that I am not wise & learned!
- You are not the first person to be humbled. Peter in Jn. 21
- Learning how to trust Jesus as a brilliant mentor for an abundant life.
- Jesus Assures Us: Seek and you will find. Mt. 7:7-11
- Proverbs 2:1-6
- Jesus Warns Us: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciple, then you will know true freedom. Jn. 8:31-37
- Working with scripture through prayer and a willingness to know Jesus and to do what he asks you to do.
- Avoiding the mistake of the rich young ruler! Lk. 18:18-25
- Jesus Provides Others for Us. Christ appointed. 4:11-16
- Living and dead mentors can encourage and confront you!
- Not everyone who assumes that role is someone Jesus appoints!
- Do they listen to and obey Jesus? Mt. 7:21-23
- Do they encourage you to rely on Jesus?
- Beware of the endless Christian fads promoted by marketers!
- Jesus Assures Us: Seek and you will find. Mt. 7:7-11
A Stable Christ-Centered Identity: Paul’s Startling Statement 1Cor. 4:3-5
- He is no longer the self-righteous and confident Saul who persecuted the followers of Jesus, but Paul who pursues the risen Jesus. See Phil. 3:4-9
- He does not judge others because he knows who made him, who rescued him, and who has his heart. He calls himself the servant of Christ.
- No matter what your role in life: learn to depend on the risen Jesus as his apprentice who loves & trusts him, & is eager to hear & obey him.
- Do you believe what Scripture is saying is the key to reality and to life?
- What needs to change in your life to step into the yoke with Jesus?
Texts Referred to in the Sermon.
Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV) 25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV) 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Proverbs 2:1-6 (NIV) 1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
John 8:31-37 (NIV) 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Philippians 3:4-9 (NIV) If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5 (NIV) 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.