In Christ, our identity has changed. That’s why our mission statement at Raintree is “Guiding People to a Christ-Centered Identity and Influence.” Today, we’re going to see what that Christ-centered identity looks like, and what it means to put on the new self. Let’s read Colossians 3:11-17.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is such a rich passage, and it starts with our identity in Christ. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” We are God’s chosen ones, his children. That is our new identity; that’s our new significance, and we need nothing else to define us as human beings outside of Christ, because there’s nothing greater to define us.
This is why, in vs. 11, from last week, if you recall, Paul said “There is no Greek or Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free.” Why did he say that? Because our new identity and significance is not found in what makes us individually unique from other people, but instead is found in Christ himself. The end of verse 11- “But Christ is all, and in all.” I want us to see just how profound it is that our identity, our significance, is in Christ. To give you a picture of this whole identity thing, let me tell you about when I was in Junior High.
In 7th grade, I was involved in pretty much everything humanly possible: sports, band, clubs, church, everything. But I found my significance primarily in sports– The glory of the football game. I was one of the best players on the B-Team. I also loved the attention of being a pretty decent long-distance runner. I enjoyed band too at the time, but I found my value and significance in sports in 7th grade.
That was until my brother started to outgrow me. Suddenly, he was better at sports, not just for his grade, but better than me even being two years younger. Why did this suddenly threaten my identity as a 7th or 8th grader? Because, even just in my very family, sports was no longer what made me feel unique. This brother who was younger was suddenly better at what I thought made me unique.
We all do this to some extent, don’t we? We like being known by what makes us different from other people. We like being known as the funny guy, or the smart guy, the logical guy, the whatever guy (or girl). We all have our personalities, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with personality. It’s good!
But, do we find our significance, our value, in what makes us unique from other people, or do we find our significance in Christ? This is part of our fallen nature. It’s a naturally selfish and even narcissistic position we hold in regard to ourselves. But one of the beautiful things about the gospel is that we are freed from trying to build our own name and identity in and of ourselves. What are freed to do now? To worship and lift up the name that is above all names.
I’m one out of seven billion. He’s One out of One. I like being identified with Christ, and finding my significance in Him, instead of trying to manufacture some great name for myself. What possible significance or identity could be greater than being a child of God? I’m a child of the King, and I need nothing else to feel valuable.
“Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11b).
This excerpt is from a sermon Ryan preached at Raintree Community Church on March 6th, 2016. You can read or listen to the entire sermon by clicker HERE.