Posted on April 30, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
There is little worse than chasing an identity that doesn’t exist. We are sold an idea of what beauty looks like, what success sounds like, what intimacy feels like, and what love is like. The problem is these are all but shadows… ghosts of what God intended us to be like.
Whether it be a Sheppard in the wilderness, a woman at a well, the weak who stand far off from the alter, a humble soldier, or a vengeful leader, God works in and through those whose hearts bow in humility to find their identity in Him.
John 8 shows us a woman who is a shell of a person who ties her identity to how others use her for their own pleasure. She was dragged before Christ as an object of treachery, a worthless form in His enemy’s plan to gain some kind of power over Jesus. They cared not that their methods would cost… her life. Jesus, aware of their scheming, turns the tide against those seeking their own selfish ambition. Instead of falling prey to their conniving, He poses a challenge, He dares, ‘He who is without a selfish intention, and the one who is not guilty of seeking inordinate pleasure like this women, that they are the one to cast the first stone to take her life. Having their plans exposed, the accusers exited from the most cunning to the more zealous. Left vulnerable before Jesus, the woman lays at the feet of the only one qualified to judge her.
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11 NIV) Jesus did this, knowing of His pending sacrifice that would make possible this women’s freedom from shame and guilt. You almost hear Jesus say, ‘take heart, I will carry your burden so you can find rest in my atonement.’
In the next scene, John unveils a debate over Jesus’ identity, “Who are you?” the religious leaders demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the One who sent me, and He is completely truthful.” But they still didn’t understand that He was talking about God, His Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM He. I do nothing on my own initiative, but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me — He has not deserted me. I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:25-29 NLT)
John goes right from a scene where those involved were chasing shadows of their identity… to revealing in whom our true identity is anchored. Jesus’ confidence and purpose are not of himself, but from God who gives Him the words to speak and who never leaves or abandons Him. He set His heart on doing what pleases His Father, and in doing so, Jesus humbly allows God’s perfect will direct His life. God fills His life with joy, peace, vitality, courage, kindness, patience, and hope… leaving Jesus fulfilled instead of a shadow of a person.
A critical aspect of those prominent in God’s Word is the lowly position they take; it is those who find their identity in God, through Jesus’ example shown us by John, who walked in their intended purpose. That is to be bearers of God’s image in a manner that brings glory to His name. Everything outside of this purpose misses the mark and brings frustration to our lives.
We are in danger from despair when we believe our purpose can be found in something we do, as opposed to who gives us life. Jesus made the women cast at His feet, fully aware of this when He gave her back her life. It was no longer hers but was being bought with the price of His own, His life laid down so her life could come alive in the presence of God, forever.
For those being deceived and placing their hope in gaining power through status, pleasures, successes, or self will, the fear of God’s justice is the only remedy. Realizing His grandeur and wonder is like standing next to Niagara Falls or the edge of the Grand Canyon and realizing how vast their power and spectacle is compared to your own finite person. To these chasing shadows, Jesus directs the words, “Go, and from now on, do not lose sight of God’s glory and grace.” For those in despair, like the women tossed at Jesus’ feet, God says; trust in My mercy as the solution, not the shadows of some far off idealism. To those needing hope, Jesus says, ‘neither do I condemn you, come find rest in me.’
Who you are… is someone loved by God. You are loved so much that He sent His only Begotten Son on a mission to redeem you from the clutches of hell and despair. He gave His life so when you reach out in faith, believing God will do precisely what He promises, you will find rest from your grasping at shadows of hope. You are worth the life of Christ to the Father, and he intends on filling your life to overflowing with the treasures of heaven… hope, joy, peace, and the greatest of these… love. I pray you take hold of His hand now and find life in Christ today.
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ―
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. –Proverbs 16:6-7
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.