Grasping who we are in Christ is the key to distinctive living.

Holiness begins with grasping our identity in Christ. Only when we grasp who we have been made to be, only when we explore it’s depths and heights, bask and bathe in it’s many joys and apply it to our heart deeply will we want to live as distinctive people. Grasping who we are in Jesus liberates us to be who we are.

Deuteronomy 14 starts with Israel’s identity.  “You are the children of the LORD your God.”(1)  God didn’t save them from Egypt to leave them as orphans.  He freed them and adopted them as his sons with all the love, commitment and care that brings.  So Israel don’t need to search for love and acceptance from those around them because they’re loved and accepted by God and they must grasp that.  That’s why the story of God’s lavish love for Israel; from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph right through to the Red Sea and the journey to Sinai precedes the giving of the law.  It shows them how loved by God they are, that they’re God’s sons, his children, because seeing that will liberate them to live distinctively.  That’s why Moses has rehearsed their history, because it’s the history of God’s undeserved grace and love and their adoption as his children.  They can be different because they can never be more loved!

It’s no less vital for us to grasp this about our identity in Jesus too.  So often we live as if we’re not loved because we forget we’re loved by God, we’re functional love amnesiacs.  And what’s the consequence of that?  We search for love and acceptance, approval and affirmation from those around us; from an absent father, an high achieving mum, siblings, our friends, our boss, our society and try to find it by being what they want us to be.  It’s what makes living distinctively as God’s holy people hard.

It’s why we’re so tempted to soften the truths of the gospel so people like us.  It’s why when society clashes with the Bible over marriage, sex, divorce, greed, truth, or love, we find it so hard to be distinctive and stand for what the Bible says, because we’re searching for love and affirmation from those around us.  Because we’ve forgotten we’re already loved beyond our imagination, with a love that loves us even when we slip up or make a mistake.  Loved with a love that won’t cancel us but is for us.

1 John 3v1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”  Do you believe that?  That God has lavished his love on you in Jesus and made you his child?  And God isn’t an absent or distracted Father, he’s the perfect Father.  His love doesn’t fluctuate.  You don’t have to keep on earning it again and again because Jesus earned it once for all for you in his perfect life.  Just stop and think about that for a minute, let that life changing truth reshape your thinking.  God has lavished his love on you in Jesus and it’s a love that will last for an eternity and which we can never reach the boundaries of even as we have eternity to explore them.

Grasping that new identity, who they are is key to Israel, to us, being who we God has made us.  Only when we grasp that daily will we be freed from the search for love from others to live distinctively as God’s people.  Only then will we love God’s laws, his instructions and not think of them as restrictive.

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