Today, I find myself being particularly introspective. Perhaps it's because of the experiences I have had with a variety of Believers through our Deliverance Ministry; or what the Holy Spirit is speaking to Mark and I. But I sense a real desire among people committed to Jesus to find their place "in Him".
That phrase -- to be "in Christ", or to be "in the Lord" -- is such an intrinsic part of the New Testament Gospel, occurring 164 times in the letters of Paul alone. But what does it mean, and how do we get there? Scripture tells us that He abides [dwells, continues, persists] in us, and we, in Him. If I may simplify this concept, I think it means that we have a relationship with the Lord that is so intimate and personal, that we are necessary parts of a whole. We are codependent on Jesus, if that is acceptable to you.
But, as I go through my own process of uniting with Christ, I am aware that my fellow Believers are each uniquely involved in their own discovery of where they fit "in Him". As we so often hear these days, Christians are struggling with their identities in Christ. Trying to figure out who you are, and your purpose in life, is a universal effort for everyone as they grow into their maturity. But it is particularly sensitive for Christians because I think we feel we are supposed to automatically be confident in who we are -- it comes with the territory the moment we recognize Christ as our Savior, right?
But as I meet all kinds of people who love the Lord -- whether through ministry or friendships -- it is becoming apparent that the Holy Spirit is working through individual lives to renew what it means to know your identity in Christ. Let me see if I can make this statement a little clearer ... For so long, so many of us have been trained that our identities derive from Church doctrine based primarily on the writings of Paul. But we must remember that Paul had a specific purpose -- he was assigned with the task of teaching the early church how to distinguish themselves from the unbelieving cultures [and nations] around them; to move from a self-centered, carnal existence to a unified body of believers that could represent a new governing body on earth: the kingdom of God. It was necessarily a corporate model where believers found uniformity and strength in a unified body.
Now I am seeing that the Holy Spirit is calling believers to their personal identities! As the time of Jesus's return nears, it seems as if the Spirit is calling people to personal account; what are we doing for the Kingdom? Because I will tell you that I have been discouraged by the lack of work for the Kingdom on the part of the corporate Church. And I'm not the only one. Individuals are not being fulfilled or fed within the Church walls to bring in the harvest of the Lord. People are no longer satisfied to be identified by a denomination or their "Church family". The Spirit is awakening a desire within the hearts of believers to walk closer to Jesus and to experience the spiritual gifts that Paul says are the right of every Believer.
And when you consider how many times Jesus spoke to the hearts of individuals, we see that He does have a purpose for each individual in His Kingdom. He not only spoke to huge crowds, but ministered directly to the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, Jairus, Lazarus, the thief on the cross, and countless others that are not recorded in Scripture. And I think we find it difficult to find that kind of recognition within the corporate model. In fact, I think it is hard to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit if there is no encouragement to find your own path in the Kingdom. After all, we are each uniquely crafted to serve the King, and it would be wonderful if our uniqueness was commended and enthusiastically praised as a significant part of the whole Body. Unfortunately, we often find that if we don't fit within the "accepted" pattern of our corporate community, we are relegated to the back row, or even more sadly, ignored.
That's why I think we are seeing more individuals moving away from the corporate building in search for their relevance in the Kingdom through their personal experiences with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I see the King validating them in the role He would have them play in advancing His Kingdom; leading them and teaching them to walk in a specific assignment He has given them; THEN uniting them with others who are walking in their own unique Kingdom identities. In this way, each member of the Body of Christ is truly walking in close relationship with Jesus, and validated by Him, while excited to join with others in mutual encouragement and harmony. That is what I think the Church was designed to be!
So, I want to encourage each and every one of you that you are uniquely and wonderfully made to serve our King, Jesus! He has known you from the foundations of the world and has determined that you were to be here, in this very place and time, connected to Him through His Holy Spirit who is eager to guide you and counsel you on what you bring to the Kingdom. Make HIM your priority in all you do and say. See HIM when you look in the mirror. And listen for HIS voice to tell you who you are. The identity the devil wants to give you is a lie. The identity the world wants to give you is false. And the identity the Church has assigned you may be incomplete. When you can walk in the fullness of your identity as a Child of the Living God; unique in your purpose and assignment, and in peace and harmony with your fellow heirs of the Kingdom, then you will have truly found your place in the Lord. Rest in that!
Romans 8:28 So we are convinced that
every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into
God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are His
lovers who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose.