Who are you? Our identity in Christ

Published 9:42 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

Earlier this year, our credit card was compromised. Somehow, someone got ahold of my number. It was someone in Canada. Our bank caught it and we didn’t lose any money.

But, we had to close our account, create a new one and notify all of our accounts to our new numbers.

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It literally took months to get everything straight. And, of course, one account slipped my attention. There’s always one in the crowd, isn’t there? Identity theft is real and it is a real big business. These weeks after Easter, someone wants to steal your identity.

But first, let’s talk about our identity.

While watching a football game on television, have you ever noticed someone holding a sign that reads John 3:16? It’s one of the most memorized verses in the Bible. It communicates a great truth. In that one verse, we learn that God loves us, Jesus died for us and we can have eternal life through Him.

Yet, interestingly enough, I’ve never seen someone holding up a sign that reads Luke 9:23. Luke 9:23 also records Jesus’ words. I can understand why no one would paint that verse on a sign and hold it up for all to see. It really doesn’t make a very appealing advertisement for Christianity. In fact, it might make it difficult to recruit new Christians.

Some followers of Jesus might even skip over this verse, kind of like skipping over the greens in a buffet.

But the truth is that John 3:16 and Luke 9:23 go together in order for there to be an accurate understanding of the gospel’s invitation. John 3:16 emphasizes believing. Luke 9:23 focuses on following. Those two things are necessary and must go together. There is no believing without following.

So, what are Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 9:23?

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’”

These verses describe in expressive detail what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus began this verse with these two words: “If anyone. …”

Anyone is a significant word because it makes clear whom Jesus is inviting. He was inviting anyone. Anyone is an all-inclusive word. Anyone means everyone. There are no qualifiers, no conditions and no list of requirements. Jesus offered an open invitation to anyone. Yet, we often feel like we have to clean up our act, get dressed up, get our lives straightened out and then we can come to Christ. Not so. Jesus issued an open invitation.

Those words and the rest of the verse give us our identity in Jesus.

What would happen if everyone who professed to be a follower of Jesus just disappeared from the earth? That’s what the enemy of God wants — to limit Jesus’ impact through his followers. Us. He wants to steal our identities.

Don’t let him do that.

John Moxley is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dillwyn. His email address is Jmoxley1@juno.com.