God’s promise to bless all the inhabitants of the Earth through a people (a family) is occurring in a new humanity that He is creating through Christ and for Christ. This happens as the Holy Spirit brings about repentance and faith in people and they are made new (regenerated). This new life gives us a new heart with new desires and a new identity from Jesus. Jesus told His disciples to baptize His followers into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptizing people “into the name of” is about establishing them into their new Trinitarian identity.
This sets up a rhythm throughout the New Testament of God informing and reminding His people who they are in Christ. Knowing this guards us from man-centered, sin-saturated forms of motivation such as guilt, shame, and self-justification. Paul, in most of his letters, motivates the Church to faith and action by telling them who God is, what He has done in the person and work of Christ (the Gospel), and who we are in Christ in light of this work (identity). Peter is more forthright in declaring our identity by telling his readers, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). It becomes imperative for the church to know who they are in Christ. This new identity should not only inform who we are but also all that we do.
The scope of this new identity can be understood through several expressions of who Christ has made us to be. As we look at the whole of the story, we can see four key identities surface. These key identities are like lenses that help us to see and understand our new identity in Christ. The Gospel has made us to be Learners, Servants, Family, and Missionaries.
We are followers of Jesus who are learning to obey His teachings.
Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:11-13, 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 2:11-14
Jesus has called us to follow Him and to learn from Him. Jesus says that He is the Truth, He leads us in the Truth, and He has given us the Spirit of Truth. Before the Gospel changed us we were enslaved to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, but now we have become obedient from the heart to Jesus’ teaching (Romans 6:17-18). We have become disciples of Jesus who submit to His teaching and His ways as we learn to live for His glory.
As learners, we devote ourselves to the study of Scripture. We learn from the teaching, training, and wisdom of godly leaders and teachers. We spend time—individually and together—studying the Bible, praying, and growing in our knowledge, understanding, and obedience to God. We are disciplined in this so that we can discern the leading of the Holy Spirit and possess an ability to speak the truth to believers and unbelievers in love. We take ownership for our own spiritual growth and share the responsibility in the spiritual development of others. We use community so we can learn to apply Jesus’ truth to our lives as we live out the Gospel in practical, intentional, and tangible means.
We are servants of Jesus who serve Him by serving others as a way of life.
Matthew 20:25-28, 25:31-46; John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:5- 11; 1 Peter 2:16
Jesus humbly took on the posture of a servant to serve us. He put on human flesh not so that He could be served, but so that He could serve others. He wrapped Himself in a servant’s towel as He washed His disciples’ feet. Just as Jesus was willing to serve those estranged from the Father to the point of death, so we are committed to taking the posture of servants as we serve His body and our city.
As servants, we joyfully give our lives, talents, time, careers, finances, and relationships to God. We strive to offer every aspect of ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice” for God to use however He wills, as we whole-heartedly worship him with all of our lives. We are generous with our time, talents, and treasure. We do whatever needs doing, whenever it is needed, and wherever it leads us. We are a people called to be a blessing to all nations as Jesus works through us. We intentionally seek God’s direction for those whom He would have us to bless through words, gifts, or actions.
We are the adopted children of God who live and care for each other as family.
John 1:12-13, Romans 12:10-16, Galatians 4:4-7
We once were the “children of wrath” but have been transformed by the Gospel. The Father has adopted us into His family. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit to this adoption. We are no longer orphans alienated from God and each other, but brothers and sisters in the family of God. The strength and depth of our relationship are a living picture of the power of the gospel. God has always planned for His redemptive work to be carried out through an earthly family, and Jesus’ Church is the fulfillment of that plan.
As family, we prefer one another over ourselves and sacrifice for one another. We are devoted to each other to live in authentic relationships. We practice hospitality to one another. We enjoy being together. We disciple, nurture, and hold one another accountable as we long to see the gospel lived out more fully in each other’s lives. We handle conflict, differing opinions, and business as a redeemed family. We feel love and kinship toward those alienated from God, longing for them to be reconciled to our Father who created them in His image and likeness.
We are missionaries sent by Jesus and empowered by His Spirit to demonstrate and declare the Gospel.
Matthew 28:18-20; John 1:14, 20:21; Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:19-20
Jesus told His followers, “As the Father sent me, I am sending you.” He then empowered them by the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to go be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Jesus modeled this for us. He worked, ate, and lived among the people, living in such a way that those around Him could see and experience what God was truly like. More than just being an example for us, through the Gospel, He has reconciled us to Himself and given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
As missionaries, we see every aspect of our lives as tools God has given us to build relationships with gospel intentionality. We strive to build real relationships and friendships; to see folks as people, not projects; and to love them enough to share our lives, homes, and time with them, praying that God will work salvation in them. We invest in those alienated from God and invite them to come and experience the love of Christ on display through His church. We pray that God allows people to trust us and gives us opportunities to tell them the glorious Gospel story. Because He has poured out ridiculous amounts of grace on us, we go into the world to demonstrate and declare this grace. We invest in specific areas of the world and carry out God’s mission to the ends of the Earth.