Before you read this blog, I want you to watch a video for me. It’s relevant to this blog, it’s the reason I’m writing this blog in the first place. This video is by an American duo called ‘The Skit Guys’, they make skits about things related to Christian life and this video is called The Skinny on Identity. Watch it for me?
Who am I? For years I called myself worthless, a waste of space, hopeless. For months within those years I wanted to kill myself, made plans to kill myself, wrote suicide notes. For days within those months I struggled with asking for help, reaching out, feeling alone. For minutes within those days there would be a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, something to live for. And within seconds it was shattered. For years I called myself a bad role model, a bad human, a bad Christian. For years I believed it.
“For we are God’s masterpiece, created to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Did you know that? We are God’s masterpiece. We are a Picasso or a Beethoven symphony. We weren’t thrown together by chance, God carefully crafted us; carefully crafted our lives, our past, present and our future. I used to think that God had given me a rocky road on purpose, that before I was born I was destined to have the life I’d had. Wrong. God never chooses to give us a rough life, we are human after all. We are a masterpiece. Have you ever considered yourself a masterpiece before? I know I haven’t. I look at myself and all I see is a mess; a piece of modern art or a post-modern piece of music that some may find beauty in but most see chaos and mess. That isn’t how God sees me, that isn’t how He sees you. He sees us as masterpieces to do the works He has prepared for us; to glorify His name. I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t get that at first. I’ve called myself a Christian for a very long time and I’ve only just got this.
“But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8
I realise that I am using Ephesians 2 a lot but it’s amazing how this chapter (particularly verses 1-11) tells us how much God loves us. Because of God’s love, we are alive with Christ. We have an identity that is not our past, or our sins or how many times a week we go to church. It is in Christ Jesus, nothing else defines us. It doesn’t matter how low we are feeling or how bad life seems, we have Jesus on our side. I know I make it sound easy and believe me, I know it’s not. More than people realise. I wanted to give up on life so many times, and it’s only since July that I’ve found a reason to keep living. People say that being a Christian is the easy way out…let me tell you something: it’s not. I was a ‘Christian’ when I made plans to kill myself. I was a ‘Christian’ when I called myself worthless, a waste of space, a bad role model… It’s not easy. I completely ignored the fact that God loves me, that I was saved by his grace.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
The old has gone, the new has come. Do you know that? I sometimes forget. That when I was saved, I was born again. In a sermon our rector gave, he said that God doesn’t refurbish or cover up the cracks – He creates a new being. That was something that I hadn’t really thought about, something that I struggled with. I still struggle with it. I struggle with it because I carry my past with me, my past is my identity and not Christ Jesus. I carry the abuse, the bereavement, the self-loathing, and the suicidal thoughts all on my shoulders. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” – I am a new creation, if you believe – you are a new creation. He doesn’t do botch jobs. Something else I’ve only realised recently. I called myself half a Christian for many years, well on the surface I called myself a Christian but inside, I wasn’t. Not really. Now, I know that there is no such thing as ‘half a Christian’ but hear me out. When I ‘became a Christian’ I think I only did it because it was sort of forced upon me but I did know that these people had something. They had something I wanted. As the years went along my faith began to grow and grow but would always get shot down by something, mainly people telling me how bad a Christian I was. How bad a sister I was, a bad daughter. That I was going to die like my mum (that being everybody’s favourite). But in all of that, somehow I managed to stay strong. I tried to pray and call out to God, mainly I was angry at Him but you know. When I came to uni, that’s when it all changed. That’s when I realised that I was a new creation; that my past didn’t define me…that my identity was and is in Christ. And so is yours, or can be.
Now, if you’d be so kind, would it be okay if you listened to this song for me? I know I’m making you work a bit during this blog but I feel like this is what I need to do. I’ll explain why I got you to listen to the song afterwards.
This song, means a lot to me. Until very recently this song always made me cry, and when I say very recently I mean about half past seven on Sunday evening (4/1/15). I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to the words before, words that really strike home.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name
We don’t need to hope on anything other than Jesus, we don’t need to trust anything other than Jesus. Our hope is in Jesus, our hope has always been in Jesus.
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all
Weak made strong. We are not weak, we are strong. In the Saviour’s love, we are strong. They’re the words that really got to me…many a time. I am not weak no matter how many times I have told myself I am weak, no matter how many times other people have called me weak. In Christ Jesus, I am not weak. The words that really, really struck home to me though are these Through the storm, He is Lord/ Lord of all. Aren’t they amazing? Jesus is always there, no matter how dark everything seems. I don’t know if anyone else does this but when things are going badly, I put Jesus to one side and try and fix it on my own. I take the mindset of ‘Jesus can’t help me, no one can help me’. Am I the only one? But here’s the thing, we’re not alone. Through the storms of life, school, college, university, work – Jesus is there. He never leaves our side. I think that’s what made me cry, it was always the chorus that made me cry, because of those words. Jesus is our cornerstone, the weak are made strong in Him and He is Lord over all things.
I promise this is the last bit of interactivity of this blog. I wasn’t even quite sure if I was going to put this in but it seems like I am, so please. This is Who Am I by Casting Crowns. This is another song that has stuck with me for a few years…the lyrics are powerful and relate to what I’ve been writing about quite a lot.
“Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth/ Would care to know my name/ Would care to feel my hurt?” Have you asked yourself those questions? I know I have. Why would the Creator of all things choose to know my name, care to know my hurt, choose to care about me? It’s something I’ve struggled with a lot. There are more people in the world who deserve His love than I do, a lowly second year Education/Drama student. But no, He still knows my name. “Not because of who I am/ But because of what You’ve done/ Not because of what I’ve done/ But because of who You are.” We are who we are because of Jesus Christ. And because He died on the cross for us, we are saved by the ultimate sacrifice. A friend of mine said to me recently as I recounted my rough childhood and relationship with my dad that I (as a Christian) had the best father who loves me so, so, so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for me.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t love someone enough to send my children or other family members off to be a sacrifice. Yet, that is exactly what God did.
The Casting Crowns song says it beautifully, that no matter where we are in our faith He always hears us calling. He never leaves us. We are never abandoned. That’s something that I think needs to reiterated. He always hears us. He never leaves us. We are never abandoned. Isn’t that amazing?
So why did I make you watch that video at the beginning of this blog? That’s if you can even remember what it’s about…I made you watch it because it is a visual example of where and who our identity is in. Our identity is in Christ, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. Our identity is in Christ and the Devil hates it, that’s why we get attacked. We can lose our way, lose the people we are and who we are meant to be. Are we living as the people God created us to be? Are we living to glorify Him and fulfill His wishes? I know that I struggle…that I fight life and limb not to do certain things that He asks me to do. But remember, we are God’s masterpiece. We are created to do the works God has planned for our lives. We don’t need to pretend to God, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Don’t put on a mask or pretend…slightly ironic as that’s what I do in everyday life but I’m working on it. He loves us and likes us for the people we are, He knows we make mistakes – we’re human beings, we’re not perfect! That’s why He sent Jesus, to forgive us when we screw up which is pretty darn amazing!
We are not nothing. You are not nothing. I am not nothing. We have an identity. I have told myself for almost 20 years that I am a waste of space, a nobody, that nobody would miss me if I jumped off a bridge. But in God? We are a somebody. We are sons and daughters adopted into His family, we are part of a family bigger and stronger than we can ever imagine. We all have a role to play, whether you know what your role is yet or not – to be honest with you, I don’t know what my role is in this family. I have so many little niches, I don’t know which one is the one God wants me to use. I sometimes feel like a nobody, I feel like other people are more important than me. I feel it more than I should but not as often as I used too. God loves you, He loves me. He loves us for who we are, who we were and who are to become. Don’t believe that you are a nobody. Don’t believe that you are worthless. Don’t believe that God gave you a rough deal because He felt like it. It’s taken me 19 and a half years to realise that.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And out hope in you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7