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Entries in identity (23)


A Kingdom of nobles

“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo.
Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.”

C.S. Lewis

As ironic as it is, Christians (those who participate in a Kingdom) have largely lost the concept of  nobility.

Perhaps the notion of nobility got lost when the the last knights and ladies of the Middle Ages died off. Or perhaps we've lost the idea of nobility because we've lost a part of the Gospel itself.  What I mean is this:  In our attempts to be 'authentic' to each other, the world and to God, we've not only recognized the depths of our sin, we've decided that our selves are synonymous with those foul places.

Yet Scripture has stated otherwise:

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart."
-- Luke 8:15

Something better now defines us:  something stronger, regal and resplendent.  This transformation wasn't a mere brushing-up, nor a tinkering with the old in order to improve it.  It was something wholly different:  a bestowing of a fundamentally different nature -- supernatural supplanting natural.

Does the idea of Christian nobility sound too prideful for us? Are we so used to living in the mud of false humility that we cannot receive the more substantial redemption he is offering?

In C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, the children who become allies of the great Lion discover what they were meant for all along, as Aslan renames them in order to reveal their true natures:

And Aslan gave the children each a new name:

  • Peter will be known now as, "King Peter the Magnificent."
  • Susan will be called, "Queen Susan the Gentle."
  • Edmund will be known as, "King Edmund the Just."
  • Lucy will be called, "Queen Lucy the Valiant."
Whitney Young once said, "The truth is that there is nothing noble in being superior to somebody else. The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self." Through the strong rescue of Jesus, you are no longer this "former self" -- no matter how things appear to you. As C.S. Lewis reminds us,
“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.”

That is to say, your new and noble glory surpasses the goodness and character of Adam and Eve -- before they fell.  Through his transforming rescue in you, our Lord has out-done himself again. 


Healing our identity

We're often told to "find your identity in Christ alone" so that we don't take our need for validation to other, false substitutes.  I think that's a good idea; but I think most of us don't get the follow-up conversation we need on this issue.

For example, "What the heck does that mean?  How am I supposed to 'find my identity only in Christ?'  Do I pray more?  -  Try harder to think how much God loves me when I feel wounded?" 

How do you obtain an "in Christ alone" identity?" Here are two things that come to me:

1.  It's about being a daughter or a son, first.  More than what we can offer the world by means of our giftedness or calling, we first rest in, then offer our identity as sons and daughters of God.  This is often particularly difficult for me, as I want you to tell me how much what I do for you means.  I want to find validation in how much you respect me as a writer and teacher.  But this can never, no matter how much our gifts are genuinely needed, heal our identities.  We must find confidence in our identities as sons and daughers, first.

2.  It's about hearing our new name.  Abram becomes 'Abraham.'  Jacob becomes 'Israel.'  Saul becomes 'Paul.'  The new name expresses your new identity, uniqueness, and what you mean to God in a way that no one else does.  It is your particularity.  Hearing your new name helps heal the wounds -- those blows that were designed to take you out of play and to prevent you from offering what the world needs from you.  As for me, I remember God whispering, "Jim, you are my Aragorn."  He may not ever whisper that to you, but he knew what it would mean for me to hear that.

Listen, daughter or son, and rest there.

Then listen for your new name.  It is waiting for you.



And the word became...you.

There was more than one incarnation.  Jesus wasn't the first word that God made flesh.  There were many before him, and many since.  He was simply the fullest, unhindered and truest incarnation of God's speaking.

God creates by speaking:  Power goes out,  creativity happens.  When God wants to get something done, he speaks. Whatever it is -- an orchid, a zebra, a person -- he voices it and something is formed.

You, too, are a spoken incarnation, a living word (small "w," of course).  As Robert Benson suggests in his book, The Echo Within - Finding Your True Calling, there is an incarnate word that has been spoken into you from day one.   And that incarnate word is unique to you.  (Your new heart is at the center of your unique identity.)  Since God had something specific in mind that his world needed, he voiced that specific thing into you:  "Now I will give the world what it needs through the incarnate word, "your name here".

When God works in a person, he does it in them, as them.  You express something God wants to say, but he does so as you, not simply in you.  He is making his ongoing incarnation personal.  There is nothing generic about it.  As God uniquely and supremely made a statement in the fleshed-out Word, Jesus, so he continues to make a statement in you, as you.  You are the new fleshed-out word.

And the word became...you.

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