Identity.  If you think about why people do what they do, it's largely because of their idea of who they are.  Their identity.  Just think about how much this idea of identity drives almost everything that people do.  They think things like, "I'm an American." or "I'm an educated person." or "I'm a person who cares about my health."  And every one of these identity statements is then followed by an idea of what that looks like, at least in that person's mind.  "I'm an American, so I should have rights." or "I'm an educated person, so I should think about the environment." or "I'm a health-conscious person, so I should exercise and eat right."

So what is our identity?  If you are a believer in Christ, then that should be more than a title.  It should be your identity.  That sounds simple enough, but it's harder than it looks.  The world is going to tell you that Christianity is only a label, that what you believe is private, and that you don't have the right to let your identity show forth in what you do.  Daily we hear reports of Christians who are told that they can't live out their beliefs in the workplace, in schools, in public places, and even in their own homes.  They (and we) are told to hide our identity.  We are told that we can have an identity, but that we can't let it shape what we do.

And many Christians do exactly that.  In fear of the world's condemnation and desirous of the world's approval, they hide their very identity.  They look like the rest of the world.  But how damaging can that be?  Paul tells us in no uncertain terms in Ephesians 4:17.  "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do, in the futility of their minds."  Paul goes on to warn the believers of what comes of following the world, of looking like the world, of having one's identity in the world:  darkened understanding, alienation from God, hardness of heart, lack of awareness of sin, desire for impurity.  Christians, these qualities belong to the world, not to us!  This must never be our identity.  God has called us to be His!  To have our identity in Christ!

Then Paul goes on to describe the true identity of a Christian in Ephesians 4:22-24.  "to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."  What a glorious identity is ours in Christ!  Christ has called us out of the world, to live as new creations in the likeness of God.

That is why we are here.  At Coram Deo.  We have heard God's call and claimed that identity as our own.  We willingly set ourselves apart, to be trained in holiness and righteousness, because that is the identity that God has given us.  That identity is who we are, because it tells us WHOSE we are.  We belong to Christ.

But look around you.  You can see that there are not many who are willing to be set apart, really different from the world.  It is not easy to have an identity apart from that of the world.  But it is glorious, because we belong to one who is glorious.  The things of this world will pass away; the "truths" of this world are but an illusion, but our identity in Christ is now and forever!  So we boldly face the world, boasting in the cross, humble and joyful in obedience to the one who gives us true identity.

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