Category Archives: Colossians

Protecting Your SPIRITUAL Identity

Identity theft has generated a lot of attention over the last several years. A variety of products are offered everyday to assist you with protecting your identity. The constant message is: You must be intentional to keep scammers and criminals out of your personal information. I’ve purchased one of these products myself and at least one red flag has popped up advising me that my identity has been compromised and I’ve taken intentional action to close that risk.

To be a Christian is an IDENTITY as well. It’s who you are, not just what you do. And there are things that put our IN Christ identity at risk:

  • False teaching. Anything that adds to or takes away from the person and work of Christ.
  • Hypocrisy. Living with a gap between what we know we’re meant to and supposed to be IN Christ and what we really are.
  • Sinful habits. What you do everyday is what you’re becoming. Secret identities are always exposed. And the IN Christ identity is all or nothing (Col 3;11).

And just as it may be necessary to protect your physical and digital identities, it is definitely necessary to protect your SPIRITUAL identity. In Colossians 3, Paul gives us some protection tips:

  1. Know your identity – “if you have been raised with Christ…” Col. 3:1. If you are a Christian, it’s more than just what you do on Sunday. “Christ is all and in all” 3:11. If you’ve identified your life in Christ there is effects that will be coming out everyday. New desires. New identity traits. A new trust outside of self. And a new desire to be identified only in Him in every area of your life. Is that true of you?
  2. Live with Intentionality – “seek what is above… Set your minds on what is above…” Col 3:2. We don’t just accidentally slip into spiritual maturity. God has given us tools and open doors to dive deeper into our identity. Seeking and setting takes intentionality. And part of the work of his spirit is to give us a passion to be where he is. What are you seeking? What are you setting your mind upon?
  3. Fight for your Identity – “put to death what belongs to your worldly nature…” Col 3:5. The temptations in this world do not end for us until we leave this world. We need extreme measures to protect our hearts identity in Christ. Putting something to death is violent, extreme, final. Do you have that kind of attitude toward the world and sin? That, “I’ll get rid of anything that threatens my relationships with Christ and my identity in Christ” kind of attitude?

And we are not alone in this fight. Today, for those who are in Christ, we have an Identity protector at work for us in Jesus himself. The Bible says that we can never be taken from His hand and that he is interceding for us and that He never leaves us or forsakes us. Our identity cost Him his life. Your identity was worth a lot to Him. What’s it worth to you?

Uprooted

A common sight around SE Louisiana in my 11 years here has been the uprooted tree. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, & Gustav were the worst culprits. A few thoughts that have informed my faith as I’ve experienced trees in a Hurricane Zone:

  • Trees that fall often have shallow root systems. Like the tree in the picture, root systems can be wide, but depth can be noted as shallow on many of the trees that fall. This may be no fault of the tree itself, because its planted in an area where water is near the surface so it doesn’t have to dig much for nutrition. And then the ground it’s rooted in may be muddy and soft instead of solid giving it even less stability.
  • Trees that don’t fall are less likely to fall next time. As a matter of fact, an arborist told me after Katrina that if you could see underground during a storm, that scientists say you could visually see roots going down and trees digging in for all of their lives. So many trees that are leaning are unlikely to fall, because the catastrophic wind pushed them to develop stronger roots.
  • Trees that fall are often standing alone. If you walk into a wooded area after a storm, unless there were tornadoes ripping trees apart, you’re not likely to see many trees blown over. They help each other shield the wind and their roots are intertwined in such a way that they help hold each other up. The most common site is the lone tree in the yard blown over. It simply had no help and had to try to stand on its own.
  • Dead trees seldom fall. One thing a lot of folks were shaking their heads about after Hurricane Katrina, was why the dead trees seemed to be still standing. An arborists gave me a simple answer: there’s no fruit or produce on them to catch resistance. The wind has little to utilize in pushing them over, so they tend to survive catastrophic wind events, but fail because of their own death and decay.

Trees and Faith:

  • When it comes to spiritual growth and surviving the storms of life roots are most important. Deep roots. And what kind of substance that root system is built in. Colossians 2::6-7 says, “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, ROOTED and built up in Him…” Is your faith shallow, surface level, easy? Are you’re roots in something that’s not substantive? For the real Christian, storms serve a valuable purpose in helping our roots strengthen in Christ.
  • When it comes to spiritual growth and surviving the storms of life having other strong folks with deep roots around you matters as well. How many strong people are you intertwining your roots with? How many people do you have that you can rely upon to help hold you up when things get windy?
  • And what about the person that’s not trying, or is doing things dishonestly, or isn’t walking with the Lord at all? Why do they seem to make out ok against life’s storms? There’s no resistance. If you’re walking with God, bearing spiritual fruit, expect storms and wind and opposition. But also expect the God in whom you are rooted to hold you up in the midst of the storm.

ON Mission Christian Should be a REDUNDANCY

Something is REDUNDANT when part of a phrase can be left off without loss of meaning.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Basic fundamentals
  • Armed Gunman
  • Unexpected surprise
  • Working Mother
  • On a can of bug spray I once read, “Kills Bugs Dead”

Some redundancies from famous folks:

  • “sometimes you can observe a lot just by watching” ~ Yogi Berra
  • “Smoking can kill you, and if you’ve been killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” ~ Brooke Shields
  • “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure” ~  Vice President Dan Quayle

The Apostle Paul would add “On Mission Christian” to the Redundant list as well.

If our identity is In Christ, On Mission will follow. But here’s the question: Why don’t we see more Christians on Mission? Why is it so hard for us to pursue the mission of God? Why do I settle for going to church, when God’s calls us to go into the world on mission?

Here’s a few possible reasons that I’ve felt:

  1. We don’t think it’s our responsibility. Somebody Else will take care of that. Or we hire pastors to do those things.
  2. We don’t see the opportunities. We drive by the needs of the world so often that they become too familiar  and we just accept them.
  3. We don’t think we can. It’s just too hard. I don’t have the gifts. I don’t know how.

Here’s the truth: It is hard. And the Bible never promises that it will be easy.

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul talks about his life as a follower of Christ and he spells out some of the reasons many opt out:

1.    We’re called to suffer for the sake of others. http://bible.us/col1.24.esv. To not consider self first – “deny self, take up your cross, follow me” Luke 9:23. Paul says life In Christ, On Mission is “labor, striving…struggle” v. 29, 2:1. These word mean to work to the point of exhaustion, to agonize, strenuous effort. These are athletic terms used to describe a runner in a race. It’s not easy to give yourself for others. There must be a willingness to suffer and give and sacrifice.

2.  We’re called to Make Mystery Known. http://bible.us/col1.25-27.esv. Yes the Gospel is so simple to understand that a four year old can receive it, but to effectively share it with others we have to work to communicate it in their language and through their cultural baggage. And we have to have the patience and willingness to answer difficult questions and silly arguments and to explain how God works through difficulty and pain. These are not easy 1-2-3 conversations to have. But it’s part of being On Mission. I’m afraid the majority of Christians have given up and given in to the excuse, “I don’t know what to say.” The stats back that up. A recent Lifeway study found that most Christians believe that sharing faith is important but they themselves don’t do it.

It’s hard. But we seem to find a way to negotiate our vacation packages, new car deals, and home mortgage rate reductions. It’s not that we’re incapable of understanding hard things. It’s a matter of willingness and responsibility.

3. We’re called to help EVERY man – http://bible.us/col1.28.esv. Paul had the audacious goal of presenting EVERY person complete in Christ when this life is over. How quickly have I given up on people and shrugged with, “you can’t reach everyone” or “some people will never change.” This EVERY man mission would require a radical reorientation of our lives. It’s an all-consuming mission to suffer for and make mystery known to EVERY person. We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it in our own strength. But it’s what the On Mission Christian aims for.

And the good news is, we don’t have to do it alone. Paul says it’s his strength that powers this mission. “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” http://bible.us/col1.29.esv.

I often ask God for strength. For safety, for provision, for help when I screw things up. He wants us to bring all our needs to Him. But how often do we ask God for strength for the EVERY man mission of suffering for others & making mystery known. His strength is promised for mission, not for the comfort of casual Christianity. So what does your prayers say about your identity.

If you’re identity is in Christ, On Mission living should follow.

This month, Bridge Church is studying through the New Testament Book of Colossians. Join us Sunday’s, 10:30am at the West St. Tammany YMCA. Or find the messages at bridgenorthshore.com or on Itunes.

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