Knowing your identity is not enough

A few years ago a friend of a friend was invited to be part of the security team at a university ball. He was a mature student. He had entered the theological college connected to the university to train for the ministry in his late forties.

The ball was the social highlight of the year. It was quite a prestigious event and its prestige was usually enhanced by performances from well known acts. This particular year, an internationally famous rock star had been invited to perform. I don’t feel at liberty to name him…just in case! Anyway, he arrived at the entrance to be greeted by my friend’s friend. He explained who he was. Unfortunately this forty-something security guard was not very in touch with popular culture and simply asked him to produce his ticket.

The rock star remonstrated that he was who he was. I don’t know if he said “Don’t you know who I am?” But it was clear that the security guard’s ignorance of pop culture ensured that he  didn’t know who he was! His identity, by itself was not able to gain him access to an event to which he had the right of access.

One of the great rediscoveries and emphases in recent years has been the power of our identity in Christ. This has been incredibly important as the church has sought to find a biblical route into holiness and living a victorious life. Beginning the journey from who we are in Christ rather than what we are doing for Christ is both spiritually helpful and totally biblical.

But it is only a starting point. Knowing your identity is not enough, in itself, to propel you into effectively living for Jesus.

In the book of Exodus we have an example of someone who discovered his identity and decided to take action. That action took him into a forty year stay in an alien environment. I am referring of course to Moses (Exodus 2.11-15)

It’s tempting to think that the Moses’ stay in Midian was just a tragic error and a forty year delay in God’s purpose. I don’t know if Moses felt that way about his abortive attempt to bring deliverance to Israel.

Consider, however, the fruits of those hidden years. Moses learnt to trust God in an unfamiliar environment. He learnt the power and responsibility of true family, something he had never really experienced because of the unusual surroundings of his birth. He learnt servanthood – he learnt to serve his father-in-law Jethro. The names of his sons reveal that he learnt to receive and appreciate the blessings of God and yet to recognise that he was a stranger in Midian (Ex. 18.2-4). And of course he received the stunning and crucial revelation of God as “I AM” (Exodus 3-4).

Knowing who you are is extremely important, even foundational, if you want to live the kind of Christian life set out in the pages of the New Testament. But it isn’t the whole story. And don’t be surprised if everything doesn’t work out exactly as you thought it would because you know who you are. God’s got some more things to show you. Some more important things to build into your life. And with them comes His incredible blessing over every aspect of your life.


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