There are two worlds—two realities—and we cannot find our identity in both. As we move into this new year, maybe it’s a good time to be reminded of who we are and how we can live.
I know it’s not a happy thought, but everything is going to decay and die. Nothing and no one is exempt. You can use the most expensive cosmetics, eat the best health food, have access to the top doctors, and exercise every day…but you are still going to die. This world is all going to pass away.
There is a second world. And it’s more real than this one. It will never pass away. Occasionally it breaks through in the laughter of a child, in the final moments before falling asleep, and in the silence. That’s when we hear the sound of soft-sandaled feet.
In one world, there is death; in the other world, there is life. In one world, there is decay; in the other world, there is growth. In one world, there is manipulation; in the other world, there is freedom. In one world, there is force; in the other world, there is power. In one world, there is self-interest; in the other world, there is love. In one world, there is termination; in the other world, there is eternity.
So how can you, as a Christian, live supernaturally in that second world?
If you’re a Christian, your identity is not in this world. It is found in Christ. You belong to him.
There are only three areas where you can find your identity. You can find your identity within yourself, but how long can you continue to tell yourself, “I’m great, wonderful, important and valuable”? Someday that will fall apart. You can play that game but not for long.
You can find your identity in other people. A seminary student told me about speaking in church one time. Half of the congregation started laughing and couldn’t compose themselves. The student thought they were making fun of him—What did I do wrong? What did I say? He finally looked down to notice a lizard climbing up to the top of the pulpit…to stare him in the face. He thought, Oh, my terrible pride. When we base our identity on other people, we can get devastated.
You can find your identity in Jesus Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Your identity is in Christ. You are valuable because he died for you. Your identity is in another world, an eternal world.
Where you invest your effort counts. We are called to “seek those things which are above, where Christ is.”
Importance is never measured by worth, but by action. If my identity is with Christ, then I’ll invest my effort in that.
What is important to you? Don’t think about it. Do it.
What is important to you? Don’t tell me. Show me.
We live, as it were, here in a small, cheap, one-room apartment…that is temporary. But our destination is a magnificent dream home. It will last forever. That is the direction of our effort.
In fifty years, all of us will be dead (some of us sooner than others)…and we won’t even leave a hole. That really puts things into perspective. What do you think about? How much do you engage your mind in ultimate and eternal issues?
God has given you, as a believer, the time and opportunity to focus your mind. Jesus said, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:30-34).
I recently whined and complained to a friend about how I didn’t have enough time to do the things I wanted to do. It finally dawned on me that if I thought my time was less important, I wouldn’t be so upset about it. I had a pride problem. I just couldn’t let go of my control in order to be still enough to turn my mind to things of eternal value.
Wouldn’t it be great if we spent some time alone with God? We would then be able to turn our thoughts to the ultimate issues of the other, eternal world. Take time to be quiet. Take time to be still before the throne. Take time to listen. Take time to put things into perspective in the light of God’s presence.
Your life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Not only that, your hidden life will be revealed someday when Christ returns. It is a hidden power source that the world cannot now see.
A friend told me a story about his young daughter. One day she asked him after church, “Daddy, what did the preacher mean when he said that you have Jesus inside you?” He said, “Well, it means that when you put your faith in Christ, he comes to live inside.” My friend’s daughter, with a funny look on her face, then asked, “How big is Jesus?” Her father answered, “I don’t know. I guess he’s about 6 feet.” The little girl looked down at her little body and said, “You know, he’s going to stick out.”
Our problem is that we try to get our power from other places…and always end up tired and frustrated.
That’s the point. Christ sticks out. Others may not see it but he sticks out. Christ is our power source. Our problem is that we try to get our power from other places…and always end up tired and frustrated.
Isaiah 40:31 is true—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
This is not all there is. People will keep on dying until the clouds open up, the sky is torn asunder, the trumpets sound and the King of kings returns. He who has been our secret power source will then become the revealed power source of the entire universe.
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). This means we shouldn’t be surprised by cancer, divorce, struggles with our kids, financial problems and the like.
Jesus’ statement doesn’t stop there though: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So laugh. Live in God’s love, grace and freedom. You have something to look forward to. The other world will invade this world. Jesus Christ will return.
What do we do in the meantime? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Time to Draw Away
Read Luke 21:33 & 2 Corinthians 5:17
Where is your heart at the start of this new year? If your identity is in Christ, then you live in power and hope. You are in relationship with God himself…his concerns are your concerns. How can knowing all this give a new perspective to your life in this world? It really is all about God’s grace and love…until the end.