Growing up, I always wanted to be assured of my safety if I was going to embrace an adventure. There was certainly no exception to that rule when it came to the adventures I did with a group of friends and our dads on some regular, father-son hikes. We always had a great time getting good exercise and exploring some beautiful sites in a state park. One of our traditions was to set up a rope swing at the side of a creek. We would search for the perfect tree, throw our rope over a strong branch, tie it off, and create a loop at the end for our feet. Once the new rope swing was ready, the question was who would get to swing first? Usually, everyone jockeyed for position to get their turn, except for me. I was perfectly content to go last or at least late in the order.
While I truly enjoyed the thrill as I swung above the water, I was never comfortable until I watched others do it first. I was apprehensive, and I wanted to see if the tree branch would hold. Was the knot tied right? Did it prove to be strong? Were my buddies able to get on and off the swing without danger? I wanted to feel secure if I was going to take the risk.
Perhaps this rings true for many of you as well. We often want to have sufficient knowledge of something before putting our trust in something.
In Ephesians chapter one, Paul writes this:
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:16-21 ESV).
Knowing who you are in Christ
While this may be an impossibly long run-on sentence, Paul reminds us of an incredible truth. He encourages us with the knowledge that:
As followers of Jesus, we are children of God who have obtained an inheritance that has been sealed with a promise.
He prays that the Ephesians (and us) would know the hope that we have been called to by God. He prays that we would know the riches of His glorious inheritance. He prays that we would know the greatness of His power toward us. Through Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement, we are now fundamentally different people. We have become children of the one true God and will share the incredible inheritance promised to the Son. We are a new creation. We have gone from death to life. Paul prays that we would know this and let it be what defines us.
Acknowledging where your identity comes from
Have you ever wrestled with your identity? Have you ever wondered what it is that makes you, you, and what value you hold? Our lives can get so wrapped up in trying to prove who we are. We try to prove that we are good enough at our jobs or as parents. We try to prove our worth through salaries, houses, cars, and other possessions. We also struggle to find our worth in the eyes of other people.
Paul's words should consistently ring true in our lives.
Nothing else matters other than the fact that we are children of God. This is what defines us. This is who we are. In this, we find hope and peace. Nothing else can provide this for us.
Embracing and believing your identity
Even though we read this and know this, we still often struggle with it. Every day as we venture out into life, we have new experiences, and we often find ourselves questioning who we are and if we are good enough. Everything around us screams, “Competition!” We find ourselves doing whatever it takes to climb to the top, because if we don't, we just might not be good enough. Perhaps we find ourselves grasping at whatever we can to bring a unique identity to ourselves that allows us to feel worthy.
We need to be constantly reminded that it is not about who we are, but Whose we are. Apart from Jesus, we are left with no hope; trying to fend for ourselves. As a child of God, there is nothing we need to fear.
We can rest in the knowledge that we are a child of the King and therefore have received His glorious inheritance. That is what defines us. We need to step into this reality, release all inhibitions, and enjoy the fruits of our relationship with Christ.
Living your identity and walking by faith
Stepping up to that rope swing always made me nervous. I knew the truth that it would hold me and that I would enjoy the ride. My mind however was telling me all the reasons I shouldn't do it. Even so, every time it was my turn, I would put my faith in what I knew, place my foot in the loop, and let go of the assuredness of the stable ground. Never once did it disappoint.
Paul wants us to know who we are in Christ and what we, therefore, get to enjoy. We can stand on the sidelines, make our own assessments, and continue to fight the winless, fruitless fight. Or, we can put our foot in the loop and place our faith in Christ and experience all that God has for us in a relationship with Him. Have you let go and let your identity be defined and secured in Christ? Trust me, the ride is incredible.