I’ve heard that bantered around a lot lately. It almost seems like the latest buzzword in Christendom. I hope it isn’t.
Our identity is important, no, it’s more than important, it’s vital. If we don’t know who we are we will flounder in pits of selfishness and self-pity. We will wonder why we don’t seem to live the victorious Christian life, why we always seemed doomed to failure and despair.
If we don’t know our identity we will wallow in bitterness, we will be hardened by life’s trials. We will stay stuck in pits of unforgiveness and anger. We will live in hopelessness, and defeat. We will live convinced that victory is for other people who are more special, more loved by God than we are.
This simply is not true. Jesus promised us that He came so we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10)
Full. Abundant. Free.
When we know who we are in Jesus and because of Jesus we will know victory. We will know and experience His full, abundant, and abundantly free life. And it is good.
The same passage mentioned above (John 10) begins by teaching us about our shepherd and the false shepherds. There are a few characteristics of fake shepherds.
- The fake shepherd doesn’t enter by the door, instead he climbs in some other way. He’s sneaky and desires to catch us unaware. When we’re watching the front door he’s coming in the back or in the window. He comes in where we are the most vulnerable and exposed. Living in moment-by-moment surrender to His Life means we will hear His voice and follow Him.
- The fake shepherd comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Do you feel you’re being destroyed? That’s not Jesus in you. He prunes and He perfects, but He does not destroy. He gives, He takes but He doesn’t steal. He lives, He loves but He doesn’t kill.
- The fake shepherd flees from the sheep when danger approaches. He not only seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the sheep himself, he leaves them unprotected when danger comes.
Jesus is the Door of the sheep. This means that anything and everything that gets in must go through Him. There is no hoping in the side window or waltzing in the back door when we are sealed in Jesus.
It also means when we enter the door we are instantly made part of His flock and we are His. This means we are sealed in Him.
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13
Jesus though is more than the Door. He is our Great Shepherd. He alone knows us, calls us, leads us out to find good pasture. He alone lays down His life for the sheep.
Let that last line sink in for a pair of minutes. He lays His life down for the sheep. The enemy, the false shepherd will flee but not Jesus. He lays His life down for His sheep.
The good news is Jesus already did this, so there is no need to fear that your Great Shepherd will die and leave you. His death meant you live because He lives and He lives in you. And you live in Him.
Safe. Protected. Secure. Loved. Known.
I don’t know about you, but there are days my heart desperately needs to know that. I mean really know it. It seems I’m prone to forgetfulness. I take my eyes off my Great Shepherd and lose my sense of being safe, loved, protected, secure, and known. I allow the enemy, the false shepherd to come in the window. He steals, he kills, and he destroys.
He steals kills, and destroys joy. He robs us of peace. He destroys our love. When he is around we feel unsafe, unprotected, unloved, unknown, and insecure.
I’ve live that way for far too long. I’m done. I’m walking out. I’m walking away. I’m walking in the new identity of one who has been clothed with Christ. (Galatians 3:27)