Moving Forward in 2019 Part 2
As we launch into a new year, many take it as an opportunity to make better decisions, eating right, more exercise, less wasted time, more time with family and friends, starting a new hobby or schooling.
Last week we talked about starting the new year off right by choosing to forgive ourselves, walk free of regrets and be as free as we should be because of Christ setting us free…This week I want you to think about who you really are…what is your identity what labels do you wear?
We struggle with our identity and that of others, the labels we and others give us
It is at the root of prejudice, intimidation, insecurity, much of our anxiety, most psychological problems, fear, anger and so much more
It is also at the root of our successes, our sense of accomplishment, compassion, our feelings of love, and passion.
A few years ago I had another class reunion when I think about high school it wasn’t a bad time for me…I had my struggles like most. When I graduated I was 5’ 4” tall and weighed about 90-100lbs. I was always small throughout school…the reunion got me thinking about labels…we had the jocks, nerds, geeks, heads, rebels, popular kids, bandy’s, class clowns….at one point or another I fit into most of these labels….I wrestled so I was a jock, I loved reading, literature, and Shakespeare so I was a nerd, I loved sci-fi so I was a geek, in junior high I would bring candy and gum in a gym bag to sell, it was considered contraband back then because you weren’t allowed either in school, in high school drove a motorcycle to school so I was a rebel. My junior and senior year I spent lots of my earnings on clothes and I was going to the under 21 clubs dancing so I became very popular. I starred in all the school plays mostly comedic roles so thus the class clown, I was in the band from 4thto 12thgrade….but these were labels others tried to place on me, they were just a slice of who I was not the whole picture…that’s the problem with labels
Think about it….How many here were nerds? Jocks (cheerleaders included)?, rebels?, class clown, bandy’s (majorettes included)? Popular? Heads were what we called the drug users I don’t want to know this one today
Our identity comes from many places…
what we do….our jobs, hobbies, skill sets
who we are….Father, Mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, neighbor, friend
culture or race….Italian, Polish, German, white black, Hispanic, Asian
class…lower, middle, upper
education…skilled, unskilled, bachelor’s, masters, doctorate, apprentice, journeyman, master
age….Millennials, next gen, y, x, baby boomers, baby busters
All of these labels, identities…who has the right to label something?
1) Manufacturer– labels on shirt, shoes, underwear, the phones we use…we expect the people that make stuff…labels are everywhere on our stuff…and if the label is cool people will pay more for the label than for the product…I remember 2013 when rapper Kayne West sold his hip hop plain white t-shirt, for 120 dollars, and it sold out instantly…it is a plain white t-shirt people…but it’s all about the label…(in college I had to have the polo with the little alligator on it “LaCosta”
2) Owners- if you own something, you can label it…cause you own it…if you don’t own it…you can’t label it….I mean how weird would it be if I came to your house with a label maker and started labeling things like kitchen, dog, mother, sister, even if I was right, I wouldn’t have the right, because I am not the owner…visitors don’t have the right to label things
3) Purchasers– when you were a kid, what was the first thing your parents told you to do with your… coat, you baseball glove, or soccer ball, your backpack….write your name and phone number on it…
Apart from receiving the label from the manufacturer, owner, or purchaser any label is a fake label (I bought a few of those when I thought I was getting the real “Lacoste” in college)
This labeling, when done wrong, causes racism, prejudice, sexism, and ignorance to grow rampant. It causes heartache and places limits on us when the label is “stupid”, “good for nothing”, when some is labeled useless, called racial slurs, even labels like poor, republican, democratic, conservative, liberal and so on it also causes division between people, cultures, and the church….our first priority must be allowing the Manufacturer, owner, or purchaser to label you only
The one who made something is the manufacturer.
The owner – the person who owns that something
The purchaser – the person who bought that something…
Which means God is the only one who has the right to label you…God is the one who manufactured you…who created you…
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
God is also the one who owns you…
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”
God is your purchaser…
1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
God is the only one who is your Creator, God is the only who owns the earth and all of us in it, and God is the only one who loved you so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for your sins…so that by the blood of Christ He purchased you from sin and death…God is the only one who has a right…to label you…
And if we could live our lives simply rejecting all the labels that other people try to stick on us…and instead choose to let God be the one to label us…our lives would be so so so much better…and we would be able to do so so so much more in this life…because we would be free from fear of others…
I just want to look at one verse with you, that talks about this and it is found in Romans 12:2
“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
When we accept labels we are conforming to the way of this world. When Paul is speaking of conforming to this world he is saving don’t allow yourself to be shaped into a pattern of thinking, behavior, attitudes, judgment, impurity of thought the way the world looks and acts, you are different
The question is…we know we are not supposed to do that…and yet…we find ourselves doing that all time…why?…if we are honest with ourselves, we want to fit in…no one likes being an outsider, a freak…and honestly…the world has some pretty cool riches to offer….but here Paul is saying if you want to go after all the things the world has to offer…and if you really want to fit in…then you are going to conform to the pattern of this world in order to get those things…and in the process…you are going to lose yourself…and is it worth it…Jesus put it this way Matthew 16:26
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
This world is dying and conforming to it is only a temporary enjoyment
1 John 2:17
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
What good would it be to have had the most opulent room on the Titanic or the luxury office and suite in the twin towers…conforming to the worlds pattern of thinking, the labels that come with the prejudices, insecurities and impurities of thought lead to temporary comfort but ultimate disaster
Going back to the idea of high school you could decide to conform to the patterns that someone else had set before and those patterns and labels always created an us versus them scenario and idea that we were the in-crowd and others did not fit in…it was a micro version of what is happening in our world today…the church and Christians are conforming to a label based on the world rather than Christ and it causes division not unity…we can’t think the way the world thinks, we can’t label ourselves and others the way the world does.
When you are at work, shopping, with the guy/gals the language, discussions, attitudes are mostly going to be patterned after the way the world thinks and talks…you belong to Christ first you should patterned your life, language, attitudes, and discussions based on Him.
The second part of this says be “transformed by the renewing of our minds”
Be transformed…that verb transformed there is a passive command which basically means Paul is commanding us to allow and work with the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out.
In order to live our identity out as Christ desires we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us…His job is to teach, to guide, to cause us to remember all that Jesus taught
In order to be open to really knowing our true identity it is in Christ as we see here
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
We have to know what Christ is like? Let me ask you something…how much of this past week would you say you emulated Christ and how much did you respond like the world?
To change here are a few things we need to do!
1) If we apply the fruit of the Spirit to our daily lives Galatians 5:22,23
We will be transformed, our words, actions, attitudes, judgments
2) We can only do that by daily being in prayer and the word…we need refreshed and renewed every day like our teeth…if you did not brush your teeth they would soon stink, rot, and fall out. Such will be our walk with Christ and our lives if we are not in prayer and the word
3) Rip off the labels of the old identity that you had and accept only Christ Identity for you…many times things that were said and done in childhood or the way others have labels us stick for years…Christ has paid the price for us to be different to be who he says that we are but if we continue to go back to the old labels we will never be free
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
4) Stop caring about the pattern of the world…when someone says something is cool, something is popular, something is great.. who are they to say that it is or isn’t….Jesus looked at the broken, the downcast, all sorts of people and he made them right, he knew the real label they should be wearing…each one was a precious child of God, deeply loved by Him…the world’s understanding of things is temporary but God’s is eternal.
5) Wear God’s label first…too often we get caught up and make secondary labels first…you are God’s child ahead of your political affiliation, ahead of you educational or family background, ahead of your race, ahead of your culture…if we can come to the place of seeing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ first then we will go a long way to understanding our identity and the identity of everyone else in our lives
Do you have a label that has been killing you, holding you back, limiting who you are? Have you allowed others to steal your real identity by labeling you or putting you in a place that is an old label? Come and allow someone to help you rip off the old label.
God sees the real you…the whole you and he has given you a label Child of the King