Identification is Everything!
FEBRUARY 12, 2020
There are a number of beliefs and doctrines that make the Christian faith different from other religious philosophies.
I do not know any religionist (including Buddhists) who would seriously suggest that all religions are the same.
In the discussion of attitude, there is no more important attitude than identification. In fact, of all the ways the Christian faith is different, this is at the center. The Creator has identified with his creatures. Now that really is different, and it makes everything else different. When the Scripture tells believers, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5–7), it is giving a significant key for reaching the world.
So Christians are to be like Jesus, right? Wrong. Or at least wrong in that many think it means being good and pure, working miracles, and being nice. Instead, it is about attitude. Having the mind of Christ is an attitude of identification with Christ and with those who are outsiders, in the same way Christ identified with his Father and with outsiders.
Jesus lived, said, and taught everything his Father wanted him to live, say, and teach. I do not know about you, but I cannot pull that off. Jesus’s identification with believers is, in essence, different than their identification with others. However, Jesus did do amazing things. He so identified with the drunks and sinners that he was called out for being one of them. Jesus experienced fear (real fear), doubt (real doubt), weariness (real weariness), hunger and thirst (real hunger and thirst), and wondering (real wondering). The incarnation of God in Christ was not a game. The Scripture says he can sympathize with weaknesses because “in every respect [he] has been tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).
The impact of the incarnation of God in Christ was not in Jesus’s teaching (other than, of course, in his death and resurrection, and all that accomplished). Almost everything Jesus taught could be found in one form or another in the teaching of the Old Testament. The impact of the incarnation was not in Jesus’s example. Human depravity is universal; but with that provision, there were a lot of good, faithful heroes in the Old Testament whom God could have used as examples. The impact of the incarnation was not in Jesus’s miracles either. Every one of the miracles Jesus performed is matched (and sometimes surpassed) in the Old Testament. So what is the impact of the incarnation of God in Christ? The impact of the incarnation of God in Christ is the incarnation of God in Christ. It is the amazing, mystifying, incredible, and unbelievable fact that God would identify with humankind.
Jesus told his disciples that he was sending them just as the Father had sent him, but there is a difference. Jesus sympathized with his followers’ weaknesses and could identify with them because he was tempted just as they were. Believers are sent to sympathize with others’ weaknesses because we have been tempted just as they are and have yielded to the temptations in the same way others have. Jesus identified with weaknesses from his strength. A Christian’s identification is from weakness with weakness.
The people we want to see and hear the truth that we live and know will not until we as believers say, “You too?” and identify with them.