March 11, 2020
For me, one of the most important and freeing aspects of spiritual growth is learning to live in my identity in Christ. There are several places in the scriptures which clearly describe who we, as the body of Christ, are in Him. Romans 8:37 says “We are more than conquerors.” First John 3:1 says that we are “the sons [and daughters] of God.” Ephesians 2:6 says that God “raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with Him in the heavenly places....”1 I think it’s safe to say that the more we choose to believe these scriptures, claiming them as personal promises directly from God to us, the more content we will be, with greater freedom to pursue our callings.
I think one thing that hinders many of us from truly knowing and living in our identity in Christ is the tendency to compare ourselves with others and sometimes trying hard to be like them rather than simply being who we are. We figure that if we could just look, act, or sing like so-and-so, or walk in their spiritual anointing, we’d somehow be happier.
Of course, there is a time and place for following others’ examples, especially when they motivate us to be more loving, Christlike, health-conscious, etc. The problematic tendency I’m addressing, which I am admittedly not above, is that of wishing or seeking to be like others out of discontentment over the way we really are. It’s almost like spiritual identity theft. We get so caught up in taking on the characteristics and abilities of others, instead of being content to walk in our own. This in turn robs us of the joy, happiness, and freedom we are meant to live in.
This unhealthy tendency can be traced all the way back to the beginning of mankind. Adam and Eve fell prey to the serpent’s temptation in the garden when he promised them that if they ate the forbidden fruit, they would be like God.2 When they heard this, they were no longer content to live just as they were—happily and blissfully, in a simple, beautiful, untainted world. They wanted to know all that God knows instead of knowing and walking in intimacy with Him. So they chose to embrace the serpent’s reasoning, and creation was forever altered—never to be the same again.
The children of Israel also fell into this same trap when they requested that a king reign over them, so that they could be like other nations.3 They tried to make this petition sound reasonable and logical since Samuel was advancing in age, and his sons were not following in his footsteps. But the Lord knew their hearts and told Samuel, “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”4 Despite their God-given identity as His set-apart, chosen people, the Israelites were still not satisfied and wanted to be like other nations around them. Consequently, not only was their inner freedom stolen, but when they began worshiping the heathen gods of those nations to whom they compared themselves and started emulating their sinful practices, they were taken into physical captivity. We, too, can live captive to unhappiness, discontentment, and limitation, if we are not content with who we are in Christ.
It took me quite some time to realize how much I was trying to be like others—namely in my singing and songwriting. For a while, whenever I’d hear a certain artist or singer for the first time and liked what I heard, I would try to pattern my own songs after their style. People noticed this and would tell me, “Just be yourself. Sing with your voice and play in your own unique way, without always imitating other people.” When I took this advice, I experienced a freedom which I’m still tasting today. Sure, I learn useful things from other singers and musicians, but I’m continuing to discover and work out the unique voice and style Jesus gave me.
I went through the same thing in my efforts to lead people to Christ: emulating those who mentored me in evangelization. I must add that I respect all of them, and I am grateful for the impact they had on my life. But after a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit, I became more sensitive to His voice and received a more personalized anointing for telling others about Jesus, so that it was no longer necessary to try to walk in the anointing of others. While the input and ideas of others still benefit me, the Holy Spirit is now my main mentor and guide, and I experience unfathomable liberty in following where the Spirit leads.
God has not called us to a life of comparing, let alone imitating. As long as we are walking after the Spirit instead of the flesh,5 we can feel free to be ourselves since we are created in God’s image.6 Each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”7 Regardless of our varying characteristics, gifts, callings, etc., Ephesians 2:10 clearly tells us who we are in Christ: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”8
2 See Genesis 3:5.
3 See 1 Samuel 8:5.
4 Verse 7 NIV.
5 Romans 8:1.
6 See Genesis 1:26.
7 Psalm 139:14.
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