I spent the weekend of the 10th and 11th at DreamHouse in Newport
News. Scott and Charrisa Crowder are the pastors there and are amazing friends to us Clarks! We so love them and our whole DreamHouse family!
This blog is a an adaption from my book The Open Table, An Invitation
to Walk with God. I gave
this message on Sat night at DreamHouse and I was once again reminded of how good our God is.
If you enjoy the blog and want to hear more, check out THIS LINK to the church's website where you can download my Saturday message. You can also download Scott and Charrisa's messages. I recommend last weeks Kingdom Economy.
I think this journey we are on is like a story. I think all of us want to live a good story, one filled with love, wonder and promise; a story that is inspired, a story that one-day our kids will read to their kids.
I am convinced of two things; first, the best stories end happily ever after. And second, before they end “happily ever after,” they are filled with conflict and risk and sometimes even death...
Jesus lived the best story. His was full of wonder and friendship, mercy and grace - a true love story. It was also a story with conflict and risk, even unto death. And if there was a crisis in His story, it was a crisis of identity. Not with Jesus, He never doubted who He was, but those around Him certainly did. If you think about it, the question of His identity followed Him everywhere He went.
I would like to suggest that the question of identity is not only the theme of Jesus’ story but it’s ours as well. The good news is, Jesus was sure in His identity and because of this, we can also become sure in ours…
Jesus was actually born into a crisis of identity. As far as public perception was concerned, his birth was a little sketchy. His inception was miraculous. He was born of a virgin. The Bible refers to Him as “God with us” (Matt 1:18) and as “The Son of God” (Luke 1:31). However, that part of the Bible was unavailable at the time of Jesus as it hadn’t been written yet.
Most likely, Jesus grew up with the stigma of “bastard.” Outside of a few shepherds and some Wise Men who knew the story, His birth appeared scandalous as Mary conceived before she was married. But Jesus was not insecure. He knew who He was. He was sure in His Fathers love and in His identity.
We know this because of the one story of Jesus in His youth. When He was twelve, His family journeyed to Jerusalem. As they were heading home, His parents lost track of Him and for three days they searched the streets of Jerusalem. They finally found Him at the temple. When His mother asked Him where He had been He replied, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house" (Luke 2:49). Jesus was sure in His Fathers love and in His identity.
We don’t hear about Him again until He turns 30. The story is picked back up with Jesus baptism. The Bible says that when He came up out of the water, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. A dove descended and God spoke in a thunderous voice. And in case anyone was unsure, the Father made it perfectly clear saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). At that moment it went public; Jesus was the Son of God. We heard it from an angel, we heard it from the child, and now we’ve heard from the mouth of God.
I would have expected Jesus to start his public ministry upon this proclamation, but instead, He is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1)
Forty days Jesus went without food or water. Three times Satan tempted Him and twice Satan went after Jesus’ identity. “If you are the son of God,” he challenged. But Jesus was sure in His Fathers love, He was sure in His identity.
If you keep reading the rest of His story you will find that everywhere He went, His identity was questioned and challenged; by the religious teachers, by entire towns and by government officials. And while all this is happening, Jesus is living a story of beauty and wonder. He is healing blind and def, lame and mute. He is raising the dead and making lots of food out of little food. He is walking on water and calming storms. He is releasing life to anyone who asks. Everything Jesus did confirmed He was His Fathers Son.
If the story of Jesus life had a battle, it was a daily fight for identity. If His story had an antagonist it was doubt, better known as unbelief. And each time Jesus was confronted with the crisis of identity, He chose to believe what God had said about Him from the very beginning. Jesus was sure in His Fathers love and He was sure in His identity.
Three years after Jesus baptism we read about how He rides into Jerusalem being worshiped. Finally, He is received by the people as He truly is – the King of Kings, love in human form, the Son of God. And for a moment in His story we exhale… and then…
Jesus is betrayed.
Only three days after His triumphant arrival to Jerusalem He finds Himself bound and standing in front of the religious rulers. His identity is officially questioned. Standing in front of Herod Jesus is asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" (Luke 22:70a)
And Jesus, knowing what lay ahead, knowing He faced a brutal beating and then a cross… And Jesus, sure in His Fathers love and sure in His identity, said, "You are right in saying I am" (Luke 22:70b).
To be honest, my entire life has been a search for my Father, a journey into my identity. And I am becoming sure. Daily I come into a greater understanding regarding the fact that this faith journey I am on is about revelation. Its been a discovery of my Fathers always-good love, and who I am in Christ. I too have been at war with an antagonist and unbelief.
And all along the way my Father has invited me, and you as well, to believe - to believe that He is love, that His love is aways good, that He works on our behalf toward good and that we are His sons and daughters with a powerful inheritance. I am confidant that our faith journey is about daily deciding to be sure in His love and sure in our identity.
I would like to suggest that though we were born into a crisis of identity, the moment we invited God to be Dad the crisis was resolved. The moment we surrendered our life to Jesus, the moment He became Lord and Savior, the moment we received His love, is the moment we stepped into a new identity. Through believing, Jesus not only confirmed and revealed His identity but ultimately He won our identity for us as well. Jesus rose from the grave and forever answered that question for those who choose to believe and receive We are sons and daughters of an always good Father. We are loved and becoming love!
Our Identity is found in believing in the absolute goodness of our Fathers love. This journey we are on has its breath in that revelation. To the extent we know this truth is to the extent we can engage this life giving adventure story. Like all good stories there will be mountains and valleys, there will be scary moments and wonder. And always it ends happily ever after. And that’s what I’m getting at. Following God is risky, absolutely. It might even lead to death. But because Jesus went first, we can be sure in His love and our identity and therefore know that our story always ends with a "well done" – always.