Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
I recently posted the following to our staff wiki (we are a rescue mission) because I believe recognizing our identity is the foundation of discipleship and our growth in Christlikeness.
We on staff come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Our experience as children and as adults varies a great deal. Some grew up in the city, some in the suburbs, and some in the country. Some grew up poor, some middle class. (I don't think we have anyone who grew up wealthy.)
We are men and women; of African, European and South American decent; young and not so young; athletic, intellectual and artistic. We come from happy homes and homes in turmoil. We are introverts and extroverts. Some lean toward task, some toward people.
Our religious experience is likewise varied. Some came to Christ at a very young age, others as adults. Some have stayed with the church of their youth, others have changed one or more times. The journey for some has been a steady climb toward Christ-likeness. For others, like me, there was a long prodigal experience.
We are life-long singles, happily marrieds, widowed and divorced.
There are some things, however, that we have in common. We all have our stuff, our baggage and our besetting sins. None of us is without struggle. We are all in recovery. In the words of Brennan Manning, "The Good News of the Gospel of Grace cries out: we are all, equally, privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God's mercy!"
We are loved beyond understanding and forgiven completely by God Most High. God rescued each of us because He delights in each of us. Because of the great love He lavished on us, we are each called His children...and collectively the bride of Christ.
This is our dominant culture, our primary identity. We are, above all, heaven-bound brothers and sisters who will live together in eternal harmony. Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ—ever!
All those things that make us different are important, even valuable. But they are not our primary identity. Our differences are temporal; our oneness in Christ is eternal! I pray that the identity we claim, the face we show each other and those we serve, is first and foremost the face of joyful forgiven saints.