Do you ever have days where you feel like giving up? Like you’re losing? Some seasons in life are shadowed by despair, defeat, and even death. It’s easy to feel like death is winning, but death has been defeated. Jesus paid our price. He conquered sin on the cross, and defeated death by rising from the grave. The tomb was empty.
Jesus is alive! And the best part is that we, too, can have new life in Him. In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to live out this risen life right now. He tells us to start living by getting our heads out of the grave, and putting to death our sin. Paul goes on to say that if we want to live these risen lives we need to follow Jesus. How he begins this thought caught my eye this week.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” -Colossians 3:12a
Followers of Jesus have big sandals to fill. Books have been written and classes have been taught on this very topic alone. How do we follow Jesus? But what was interesting to me was the fact that instead of Paul starting with a long list of things we need to start doing, he starts with something a little bit closer to home: our identity. Before moving into the detail about how we can become better followers of Jesus, Paul gives us a glimpse of who we are. And Paul begins by saying we’ve been chosen.
I’ll admit, this part of our identity comes with some baggage. This is one of the most debated ideas in scripture. Does God choose us, or do we choose God? Who does the choosing? And normally, we get to these highly debated topics and we respond with a skewed perspective. Paul isn’t attempting to end the debate. (And I’m not going to either!) Instead, Paul is pointing out that even though it didn’t seem like it, God has been at work all along. Set aside your bias for a second and appreciate the fact that you’ve been chosen. You’ve been pursued by God.
Paul continues this glimpse into our identity by saying we’re holy. And if you’re anything like me, this is the part where you say: You’re dreaming Paul! Nobody’s perfect, and my life is far from God’s standard. I’m nowhere near holy. But as crazy as its sounds, I think Paul is on to something. When Jesus took on our sin on the cross, He paid our price in full. Our sin has been erased. Our record is wiped clean.
Jesus has taken our sin upon Himself, and in exchange He offered us His perfect, holy record. And He didn’t do this because of something we did for Him. Jesus didn’t give us His record because He thought that He could get something out of it later. He didn’t look at this gift as an investment. He gave us His record, simply because of who we are. This work that Jesus started in our lives, and will continue to do, is something that’s given to us by grace through faith.
He finishes reminding us of our identity by saying we are dearly loved. God loves us. God loves you. This love isn’t based on any condition. There is no fine print. There are no qualifications to receiving this love. God loves us not because of something we’ve done for Him, but just because it’s who we are.
Even though sometimes it seems like death is winning, it’s far from the truth. Death is defeated and you have life in Jesus. Start living this new life by looking at yourself the way God sees you. Following Jesus starts with finding our identity in Him. Who we are should influence and inform what we do and how we live. When you look in the mirror who do you see?
*This isn’t the entirety of our identity in Jesus. It’s just the beginning. Interested in hearing more about how God sees you? Contact Scott
**Listen to the sermon series, RAISED: LIFE DESPITE DEATH.
(Photo by Flickr user: Wendelin Jacober)