Friday, November 1, 2013

NEW Creation... NEW Identity


I'm excited to Introduce Caleb Tate- whom I asked to write up a few thoughts from something we discussed over IM the other day.  Caleb is prepping to deploy with the Army and although he is away from our fellowship, God is continuing to work out things in his life and help him grasp and understand truths that HE is trying to communicate with us.  I've asked him to be our guest blogger....  enjoy...

The following thoughts come from my recent experiences in dealing with my identity in Christ.  I believe God has revealed to me something profound.  While this may seem a small thing, my experience has been that when God drops a pebble in a still pond, the ripple can turn into a tsunami. 
2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come".  I've had this passage memorized for several years.  The concept is pretty simple and easy to understand, but until recently, I haven't truly grasped onto this truth in order to apply it to my life.  Understanding that my identity comes from Christ is a big deal, and I've always known that, yet I never quite realized one small detail - that my identity is IN Christ.  This makes a couple of times now that God has chosen to reveal a profound truth to me in a verse of scripture that I've had memorized for quite some time (others include Ephesians 2:20 and Isaiah 53:6).  I knew that two things needed to happen: I needed to stop viewing myself as I always have, and I needed to begin to view myself as God does (through the blood of Jesus).  These two things were as easy for me as explaining string theory.  I didn't understand how to just switch perspectives simply by reading in the Word how God looks at His children. 
People can respond in many ways in conversations.  They either don't care about the other person in the slightest, they only talk to the other person because the circumstance happens to have both of them in the same place at the same time, or they are genuinely interested in what the other person has to say.   Very recently, as I lay down to sleep, I was having a bout of loneliness and I knew that I needed to pray on it. The idea that God wants me to talk with Him has always been foreign to me.  This fact was frustrating to me at that particular time as I lay there.  I knew that my upbringing wasn't the most conducive to me having an accurate understanding of who God is and how He views me.  I've known that for quite some time.  What I did not know was that I had not properly dealt with it.
I woke up early the next morning and did pray.  I can't remember exactly how the prayer went, but I thought about all the events that were burned in my head that helped to shape my current identity.  The gist of what God showed me is this: I don't need to hang on to those memories.  I'm not talking about God magically erasing those memories from my brain, I'm talking about asking God to heal the scars and the pain that the memories continue to cause.  Jesus healed all kinds of people when He was here in human form, and He continues to heal people today, but for whatever reason, I never thought to ask Jesus to heal me.  What does Jesus say to people? "Go in peace, your faith has made you well."  I guess I just thought that the emotional pain and scars were just a normal part of life.  That morning God showed me that it isn't.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come."  Unfortunately, in my Bible the phrase, "the old has gone", is not bolded, italicised, and underlined, but that's what the Holy Spirit is there for at the proper time.  Matthew 7:16, "By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?"  In this passage Jesus is talking about the difference between a true prophet and a false one  but I believe this principle can be applied here.  Grapes do not grow on thornbushes.  If I want to have an accurate understanding of who I am in Christ (grapes), it can't come from my current way of thinking (thornbush).  The thornbush must be uprooted: the old has gone.  The roots are the memories.  The unfortunate scenes in my head that shape how I think and bring legitimate pain must be properly put to rest.  I've written down specific events and memories from my past to ask God to heal.  "Your faith has healed you, go in peace." 
This process is not like a substitution in a basketball game.  It is better compared to an actual thornbush being chopped down at the root.  A shovel is needed to pick out bits of root and rock from the dirt so the soil is fertile for the new seed to be planted.  Water, sunlight, and time bring about the new identity.  This process will not happen automatically; deliberation is key.  God knows this process isn't easy, but I think that may be why He invented the gift of hope.