Knowing Who You Are in Christ

May 15th, 2013

I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the issues and problems we face as Christians are preventable (or at least more easily solved) if we understand who we are as believers. Sometimes we forget that we’re both physical and spiritual beings. As far as everyday life goes, we have a childhood and adolescence to try to figure out who we are—granted, some of us are forced to grow up more quickly than others and, in some cases we spend a lifetime trying to answer basic identity questions—but by and large, we know it's all part of the typical human experience. But with spirituality, we like to make it more complicated.

In the real world, the people who seem to be most fulfilled are the ones who have a comfortable sense of their identity. They know who they are as individuals, and they also understand how they connect with their community.

The spiritual part of us is similar, but based on my observation, there’s a whole lot less understanding in the church about how being a Christian radically changes who we are as individuals. In recent years, we’ve been hearing the buzzword “community” a lot. In our churches, we encourage people to join small groups (almost to the point of being annoying), we tout the benefits of community, and we lament our society’s alleged preoccupation with individualism.

But it’s my conviction that we can’t connect properly to a community if we don’t have a solid grasp of who we are as individuals.

When I was a kid, my time playing alone in the backyard was just as valuable to my emotional development, if not more so, than my time with other kids. It’s when my creativity flourished, and even today, as much as I love hanging out with other people, I reach a point where I need time alone to process everything. I do my best writing when no one else is around, yet, if I get writer’s block, one good spiritual conversation with a friend opens up the floodgate of ideas. (I’m about 60%/40% Extrovert to Introvert on the Myers-Briggs scale.)

As Christians, we’re in some kind of relationship with at least three different groups. Other believers, nonchristians, and what I refer to as the heavenly or spiritual realm—God, Satan, angels, demons, etc. The very fact that we have faith in Jesus affects how we relate to all these beings.

We make the decision to follow Christ as individuals, and we become part of a community of believers. But we’re still individuals—we don’t join some collective blob. The church isn’t the Borg.

I’ve put together a four week Bible study called Who You Are in Christ. It’s part of the Converge Bible Studies series that I’m editing for Abingdon Press. In the course of the study, I explore how Christians relate to the spiritual realm, other believers, and the rest of the world. I also take a look at how self-image affects our faith.

In the next several weeks, I’ll be writing more here on these topics, and we’ll be discussing them during Converge podcasts too.

Grab your Bible and a copy of Who You Are in Christ and let's dig into Scripture.

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