Lake Hawea in New Zealand. Photo by Trey Ratcliff Stuck in Customs
It’s amazing … Jesus said if we believe in him, we can do the same things he did. He even said we would do bigger things (see John 14:12).
He communicated this to his closest followers (and through them to us) on the eve of his death. He also said something else that evening that holds forth tremendous promise for us. It has to do with personal identity and abundant living.
(See John 13 through John 17 for the complete talk he gave to his disciples during this evening.)
What Was the Personal Identity From Which Jesus Lived?
There’s no way we’ll ever appreciate what Jesus began to experience that evening as the gravity and reality of his atoning work on the cross began to come upon him.
Yet, even in his great need, he gave. He continued to serve. He washed his disciples’ feet. See John 13:1-20.
I believe the greatest expression of giving is forgiveness. Jesus continued to give, even at this time. He washed away the dirt, telling Peter that if he did not cleanse him, Peter could have no part with him. It’s a picture of forgiveness.
Authentic personal identity flows from love and service. And yet, it releases true life. More abundant life.
What was Jesus modeling for us? What is the framework of personal identity from which he led his life?
I believe there’s something here for us today.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself (John 13:3-4 NASB).
- Jesus knew where he came from.
- He knew where he was going.
- He knew that all things had been given into his hands.
Consider that Jesus is the ultimate model of personal identity. We can look away from all things to him. It’s time to get accurate about who we are!
One: Know Where You Came From
The Scriptures say that before our first day – even before our conception – SOMEONE was writing things about us (see Psalm 139:13-16).
I believe you are sourced in the Creator. It’s beyond our natural mind to understand.
Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT).
Amazingly, when we are born anew in Jesus Christ, we are looped back into the Creator’s original intent and design of our lives. This is the joy and fulfillment of ultimate personal identity.
To really know where we’re going, we have to get in touch with where we’ve come from.
Two: Know Where You Are Going
You’re not really going “to” heaven someday. I know it sounds strange.
I like what Francis Frangipane says: “A Christian is not only a person going to Heaven, shouldn’t a Christian also be a person coming from Heaven, with the goods, power and virtue of Heaven?”
We are called to love Christ’s appearing. Truly, we are moving in the direction of the new heavens and new earth. Complete restoration and the new Age of Christ is on the horizon.
And yet, Jesus instructed us to pray: “Your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There will be new heavens and a new earth!
In the light of New Testament truth, should we be emphasizing that we are going “to” heaven someday, underplaying the reality of our position right now?
(He) raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus … For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:6, Philippians 3:20 NASB).
Here’s the great news … we are called to begin living now in the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4-5). Live from heaven towards everything in the earth!
Three: Know That All Things Have Been Given Into Your Hands
Everything the Father has belongs to the Son, Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus said. But he went even further! … he said the Holy Spirit will disclose or reveal to us everything that belongs to the Son (John 16:12-15).
When God reveals something, it’s not just so that we can have a “head knowledge” of it. Revelation is something to be personally and practically experienced! We enter into the actual reality of it.
Paul wrote stunning words to the Corinthians (and to us!):
All things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NASB).
In Christ, all things have been given into your hands: you have been adopted into the family of God and are now a child of the Father and a joint-heir with Christ himself (Romans 8:15-17)!
If this is true, can there be anything more personally empowering … can there be anything more promising for real self-actualization?
It’s All About Love, Service and Giving
All of this is set within a life-framework of love, service and giving. If our quest for accurate personal identity is merely about ourselves, we will be disappointed. We will not live our best life. And the joy and abundant life will be out of reach.
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1 NIV).
Are you ready? Can you rise to this level? … you can if you desire it. Do you want it? Will you receive it?
Will we advance in faith, leading lives worthy of the calling of Christ?