I love meeting people especially at Christ-centered events. I have never been afraid of hearing, “so tell me about yourself.” So imagine my amazement when a family member said they dreaded activities where you get-to-know each other. In a circle of strangers, they draw a blank when they are asked to tell one thing about themselves. Of course, my response is totally different. “Only one thing?” I want to hear about everyone and let them learn about me. I love to meet new people and learn about their lives. I genuinely enjoy the company of others and feel energized from spending time with others. Some might say that I am extremely extraverted. Of course, we have all experienced some awkwardness or tension when we are meeting someone new. We want to put our best foot forward so we make a good impression.
I love the way that some of the New Testament Writers introduce themselves. The book of 2 Peter begins with this, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Paul begins his letter to Timothy in this way. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1) They know who they are and they are all about being God’s children and Christ’s servants.
As Christians, my hope and prayer is that we are as solid in our identity in Christ. We have been adopted into God’s family, we have become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Roman 8:17), we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10) and we are loved. These are just a few aspects of our new identity-who we are when we accept Christ.
Sometimes we begin to focus on one aspect of our lives and define ourselves in this way. In our minds we let that one area define us. You know we begin to think of ourselves as a student, a jock, a gamer, a hipster, an arty intellectual, a hard worker, a prep, a dancer…sure we may have something that is unique and special about us, but most important we are the children of God. We are followers of Christ. Just like the New Testament writers, lets make it obvious that we are servants of Christ Jesus our hope.
Isn’t that what this is all about? The best gift – freedom and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. People had been waiting for him for years and now they were finally preaching about it, sharing the good news. Could you imagine being alive back then and reading the stories from the prophets and then finally hearing about Jesus? People had been talking, speculating, doubting, waiting, and anticipating him for YEARS. It is such a confirmation to our faith, it would be impossible not to talk about it!
In Acts 13, Saul, who is now called Paul, is on a mission to proclaim the gospel and he is not looking back. It’s crazy to think about the person he was just a few chapters ago. He is a great example of how we should approach our own missions. We die to ourselves, find our identity in Christ, and don’t look back. We have a lot to proclaim and not a lot of time, so worrying about who we once were will only hinder us!
Monday, March 27
Thanks to Rachel Cain’s devotion on Lamentations recently, we know that to lament means to mourn. Here, God tells Ezekiel to mourn Tyre. To me, this looks like a shift in what we saw yesterday. In our reading yesterday, God told the rebellious people not to mourn. Here, God is calling for a season of mourning.
At the beginning, we see that Tyre was a great nation. Some of the vivid imagery is displayed in the visual above. Tyre is compared to great ship. The ship is made of the finest wood and cloth; Tyre was a wealthy city who traded with many.
However, in 27:26, we see another tonal shift. The east winds will come and break this beautiful, seemingly perfect ship into pieces. Although I am by no means a Bible scholar, it seems like a fair assumption to say the east winds represent Babylon. Tyre will be destroyed by Babylon, just like the nations foretold in Chapter 25.
We see this theme continuing in Chapter 28. God tells Ezekiel in reference to Tyre, “Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations” (28:6). Here, it is evident that pride is once again an obstacle for Tyre. Their pride blocks their vision of the True God; whether explicitly stated or not, through the actions of Tyre.
Application to our lives: Although we may not explicitly state we are a god, do we sometimes un-purposefully act as though we are? Do we act as if we are entitled to a life of abundance? Do we let our pride obstruct the divine glory of God? I know that I can act this way sometimes. When I feel these emotions creeping up on me, I remind myself of my identify I have in Christ, not my identity I have built up in treasures on earth such as pride and wealth. I think of the disciples and how they left everything to follow Jesus. This seems to be a theme I keep coming back to in Ezekiel.