Identity Crisis

Later, Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take the body of Jesus. (Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus, because he was afraid of some of the leaders.) Pilate gave his permission, so Joseph came and took Jesus’ body away. Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus at night, went with Joseph. He brought about seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes. These two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped it with the spices in pieces of linen cloth, which is how they bury the dead. In the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden. In the garden was a new tomb that had never been used before. The men laid Jesus in that tomb because it was nearby, and they were preparing to start their Sabbath day.                John 19:38-42 (NCV)

Is it important that others know that I am a Christian? How do others know that I am?

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were “closet Christians”. They had not “come out”, so to speak. Now they had a valid excuse for not broadcasting it. At the least they would lose their status as a church leader. They could have ended up crucified like Jesus! It could be said that they showed restraint or wisdom in how they lived their life. Maybe they thought that their faith was a private matter between them and God.

It is important to me that others know who I am. And who I am primarily is a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is the only title that can never be taken away from me and it never expires. It is the identity that I am most grateful for and proud of. However, it is important that it is not a “false” identity. In other words, being a disciple of Jesus cannot be on-again/off-again to me. It cannot be who I am in front of others or here in this devotion group and then someone different when I go out and about, whether in the world or on the world wide web.

It is correct that only God knows my heart and only He is my true judge. However I am naive if I think others do not judge who and what I claim to be and what I am really.

Who I am to my family. This is one that I frequently fail. It is one that God has really been working heavily in my life. Do I extend the same grace and kindness and patience to my husband, children & grandchildren? Is my witness to them about Jesus just as transparent as it is to people in church or the street corner?

Who I am to those who look to me as an example. Am I willing to be a “for real” example to people that transcends beyond my “faith face”? Do I take the words of Jesus and James into my heart with holy fear?

… we who teach will be judged more strictly.       James 3:1 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see … “                Matthew 23:1-5 (NIV)

Judging others. Holding people up to my interpretation of God’s standards when God is quite capable and much better at convicting me and others of our sins so that we may repent and ask forgiveness. I have become very conscious of who I am to my grandchildren. Do they see me as “real”? Young people have excellent radar when it comes to people who are real and honest and those who aren’t. If a child doesn’t “take to” an adult – there’s usually a good reason.

Who I am to the world. It has been interesting to see the “expressions” of people on Facebook during this election. Both sides of the election coin are spending more time trashing the opponent than they are expressing the substantive views of the one they are supporting! What kind of ambassador for Jesus am I if I behave in such a way? Did Jesus speak about Roman leadership negatively? No, He kept His eyes and heart focused on Kingdom work. The only people that Jesus spoke sharply against were the Church leadership because of how they were treating God’s children when they were in authority and were supposed to be loving and caring for them. Would Jesus take me to task for how I care for “the least of these”?

It was the power of the Cross that brought Joseph and Nicodemus out to the open. Once again what may be seen by many as foolishness is the power that stirs and strengthens us to walk forward into the Light of an open life with Jesus.

I miss out on a great part of the purpose in my life if I live it as a closet Christian. I miss so many blessings that Jesus wants to give through others as His love flows back and forth between fellow believers. Let me not stand in the shadows of fear of what others may say but instead let me stand and acknowledge Jesus is LORD of my life (Matthew 10:32-33).

Because of Whose I am written by Reba Rambo, sung by Sue Carneiro

 

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