Christian identity — received

By Dave Henning / September 5, 2023

“Christian identity, however, is received, not achieved. . . .  To ground your identity in your own efforts and accomplishments — even in the amount of love you have for Jesus — is to have an unstable, fragile identity.”- Timothy Keller

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”- 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 11 of The Prodigal Prophet as he cites The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.  Someone asks a character if he knows Aslan.  Aslan serves as the Christ figure in the series.  The character replies, “Well – he knows me.”

Most significantly, to know someone in the Bible means more than to simply know about the person.  Rather, to know means to be in a personal relationship.  And when, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we put our faith in Christ, God fully receives and accepts us on the basis of Christ’s worth.  Not ours.

As a result, this new identity in Christ transforms how we relate to people who are different from us.  In addition, your Christian faith provides the distance and objectivity to see both the good and bad parts of your culture.  Therefore, writing in Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf explains:

“”When [Christians] respond to the call of the gospel they put one foot outside their culture while the other remains firmly planted in it.  [Christianity] is not flight from one’s original culture, but a new way of living within it because of the new vision of peace and joy in Christ.”

In conclusion, Pastor Keller stresses, Jesus models how to love and welcome those who deeply differ from us.  Instead of excluding them as the Other.  Above all, Jesus provides the power to do it.

And in the process, the fear and insecurity that generate the need to protect one’s self-worth vanish.

Today’s question: What does it mean to you that your Christian identity is received, not achieved?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “God’s gift and appointment”

About the author

Dave Henning

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