What does it mean to be identified with Christ? Before you rush to answer consider the rich young ruler whom Christ told to go sell everything he owned before he could be identified with Him. Scripture says the rich young ruler went away grieved because he had many riches. After he left, Jesus went on to say, “Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The riches that can keep you from following Jesus can be anything you value more than following Him. In my experience I have seen many people turn away from Jesus because they were unwillingly to relinquish a particular lifestyle, habit, status, or association. They obviously valued those things more than what Christ was offering. The requirements for following Jesus are the same today for you and I as it was for the rich young ruler. You have to be willing to surrender everything. To be born again you have to be willing to pass through the cross just like you passed through the birth canal. That means stripped of everything. The scripture says that following this statement of Jesus the disciples were bewildered thinking it was impossible for men to be saved, but Jesus assured them saying, “All things are possible with God.” What you are reading may be grieving you as it did the disciples but the good news is that God can change your perspective. I was once grieved as well at the prospect of giving up the pleasures that comforted me and the self-image I struggled to maintain for the cross of Jesus until my world started to topple around me from the inferior material I used to build my life. Once you grow weary of trying to build your life on the things outside of God like false ideals, corrupted values, carnal pleasures, physical strength, fleshy ambitions, the finite reasoning’s of man’s logic, and physical instinct you will be ready to let it all go. I thank God that I threw in the towel at an early age. Some people just have higher pain tolerances than others. When you are financially wealthy you can often afford more ways to self medicate so it can keep you out there spiritually languishing for much longer.
Jesus taught that if a man sought his own life that he would lose it, but if a man forsook his own life he would then find it. The sinking ship that many are holding on to is not salvageable and they must let it go in order to enter the unsinkable ship that Jesus captain’s. It is imperative to let go of the old in order to receive the new. Many people confuse the invitation of Jesus to come as you are as an invitation to stay as you are. Yes, Jesus loves you as you are but He also loves you too much to leave you that way. You must be ready to see yourself and your life from God’s perspective. You must be prepared to accept a new identity. You must be ready to accept a life centered on God’s will instead of your take on things. It is much like a teen-ager living with their parents. There is this person that the teenager is trying to portray to himself and friends, along with a highly marketed lifestyle that doesn’t figure in their total dependency on their parents. A teenagers highest priority should be complying with their parents since they are the ones sustaining their life. Ok hold on a moment parent before you amen to loud. God the Father is your parent. What kind of example are you setting? How submitted is your life to the One who is sustaining your life? I know, we just think we are grown but we have to be as children to enter the Kingdom. That is what I love so much about the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit can take things right in front of us and show us the path. Just like some of the things expected of teenagers not appearing cool to their peers, a life lived in identification with Christ is going to be senseless to the world. So just as teenagers often give in to peer pressure, “grown folks” conform to the world.
In order for a worldly person to be identified with Christ either they are going to have to change or they will have to make Christ worldly. Consequently, the Christ preached from many of the pulpits around the world today vaguely resembles the Jesus Christ that the rich young ruler spoke with or the Jesus the apostle Peter denied three times. The Jesus Christ preached today more often resembles the mythical Santa Claus or officer friendly from preschool with his flash light shinning down on his head. Nothing threatening or demanding about him, just be nice and try not to be naughty and things will work out fine. Here are some of the one-sided ways people comfortably portray Jesus.
- Jesus loves you as you are so just come as you are. (Repentance paves the way to Jesus- Matt 4:17)
- Jesus paid for all of your sins on the cross. ( He requires you to take up your cross as well- Matt 10:38)
- Jesus knows your heart so don’t worry about it. (Plan out your salvation in fear and trembling- Matt 18:9)
- Jesus is love. (Love is often expressed through meeting the needs of others. A problem arises when people don’t value the things they really need- Matt 6:19-21)
There is always so much talk about who will be the anti-Christ but few people realize his personality and doctrine has already been accepted in many churches. The absolute authority of God and His personality are being challenged every day by hearts that are in love with this world. James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” What a friend we have in Jesus…kind of depends huh? Jesus says in the Day of Judgment there will be many people caught off guard when He looks at them and essentially tells them they identified with Him as Lord with their mouths but not with their lives, so be gone ( Matt 7:21-23). Being identified with Christ means taking up our own cross as He did, however instead of dying a physical death, we should daily be putting to death in our own lives the carnal values and earthly priorities of this world in order that we can live to please our Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. In doing this we will become rich eternal rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us.”
Christ desires for us to be identified with Him alone. This means we should derive all of our self-worth and understanding of our potential from who we are as new creatures in Christ, nothing more. Jesus Christ is the head of the body so all body members need to get on board with this or the body won’t be unified. Everything about you comes after belonging to Christ. I tell people all the time that I am a man who is black, not a black man. I don’t put my ethnicity before the fact that I am first a man created in God’s image. The color of my skin does not define who I am as a person or what I am capable of. I am defined by the divine nature of God that orders by entire being. The spirit dictates to the flesh and not the other way around. This is the reality of being born again according to the will of God. Hear me out. I am not saying there is no purpose in race. I am saying that whatever that purpose is does not trump being in subjection to Christ which is the head of the body. This is what is being expounded upon in Colossians 3. I encourage you to read the whole chapter and I pray that God will open it up to you. I will leave you with Colossians 3:10-11.
“ Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.”