If I’m going to work in the garden, I wear rubber boots. I wanted to begin this with the idea that we try to put on clothing, including shoes, to prepare ourselves for the role we have at the moment.
Right now I cannot get past the idea that not everyone has shoes for their feet.
Not everyone has feet.
Now what? My creative introduction to the idea of identity isn’t going anywhere I planned for it to. I think there is a reason.
Where does identity come from? It cannot come from the clothing we wear or do not wear. Identity will not come from the roles we seek to fill, be they gardener, janitor, doctor, or mother. We often want identity to come from what we can do and what we wear.
In the last ten months a loved one in my life lost both of his feet. He is relearning to do many tasks at this time. To be where he is right now is harder than I know.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful[a] in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 1:1)
Paul begins the letter to the Ephesians by stating who he is. The man is fully dependent on Christ Jesus. He could have started with a list of past credentials (which according to Philippians 3:4-6, would have included):
- blameless keeping of the law, even from the eighth day of his life
- of the people of Israel
- of the tribe of Benjamin
- a Pharisee
- zealous persecutor of the church
Paul could have stated his current roles (which could include):
Paul identified himself as a man dependent on Christ Jesus. Even in the introduction, Paul is focused on Jesus! His role as an apostle is “of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”
He has a job to do, and he is wearing the righteousness imparted by Christ to do it. He recognizes that he is an apostle (one sent out); yet, he is stating that the position is dependent on Christ Jesus and God. It is not his message. He is not his own.
If we look back to Philippians 3, verses 7 – 11 this time, we see that any previous identity he tried to get dressed in before, he considers now loss!
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11 ESV)
Next, Paul states who this letter is to. “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:”
Like Paul, their identity is found in Christ Jesus.
He begins many letters stating that his identity comes from Christ, and here he states that the ones receiving the letter can focus on their identity being found in Christ as well.
Isn’t that like Paul to explain and repeat the gospel before he even writes the letter?
The saints of Ephesus are wanted by God. Paul is wanted by God. Christ was sent in pursuit of them. The letter to be spelled out in the pages to come is written to people who God gave His only begotten Son for, people who God sees through Christ now. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4 ESV) Whatever their past, they have a new identity and it is all because of Christ Jesus!
With an introduction like that, wouldn’t you love to read the letter? Why not start now?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for taking me and redeeming me, buying me back through Your Son. I do not deserve to be a part of your family. You are my only hope. Thank you for pursuing me. Thank you for changing me. Thank you that my old self is gone, and now I live by Your grace. I’m so glad that you see Jesus when you look at me. In His Name, Amen.
When have you seen God’s grace most clearly?
Why are we quick to make things of this earth our identity rather than finding it in Christ Jesus?