Whose Are We?

We are who owns us. We derive our nature and uniqueness, our very selfhood, from our owner. Furthermore, we willingly join ourselves to God in Christ. Being forced to go to church, or feeling under coercion, ordered to be who we are, is like telling a bee it must gather pollen and fly to the hive. If it were unnatural to be who we are, the Christian life would be alien, foreign and against our will. But we belong to God.

All Mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. John 17:10

Through His gracious generosity, in Christ Jesus, God has adopted us. We are not natural born, but supernaturally born children, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus; He owns us. That's the reality. Embracing any other owners, or powers is like swimming upstream or committing spiritual suicide. As long as we remember that we belong only to God, and continue to assemble to worship Him and do the work He has given us to do, we will be who we really are and do what we truly should do.

However, if we forget our authenticity, our genuine, redeemed nature and purpose in life, we may stupidly or stubbornly think we belong to ourselves, or live under the ownership of other natures and purposes. When we decide to shape and mold our own identities, or bow down and worship other gods or powers in this world, we deny and blot out our birthright and our blessing from Christ - and inevitably falter and fail.

A sham cannot stand. In fact, a sham is a shame. To go against one's God-given nature is to live in shame. Anyone who is false to his or her own Christ-self is bound to stumble. Anyone who lives a lie will fail.

This is not the way God says He wants it. This is not the way it is intended to be. Failure is not God's will. It is not necessary to slip up this way. If we accept who are, God's adopted children of grace, we will succeed big time, instead of wasting our time and our lives being who we are not.

Christianity is not a solo flight on an independent course filing our own flight plans. We are a group called a fellowship that has the stamp of God's own belonging, following His plan. We are pilgrims on God's road. It is not our journey. Rather than lose our freedom, we gain everything when we eagerly join our own, the assembly of God's own, and join hands on the Kings Highway.

The reason God has claimed us and owns us, is in order to glorify Himself in us! He has chosen us in order to bless us and share His glory with us! We cannot forget that much of his glory is His suffering, His cross and His love for all the world. In spite of and because of our part in bearing the cross, it is an honor to follow and be with Jesus in all circumstances.

The Christian experience of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he is revealed in Scripture, tradition and reason is that He is the particular, specific, and supreme example, beyond all examples of the ultimate revelation of the universal called God. Because of this belief and certainty, Christianity has been called the scandal of particularity. Once a little girl told me, "Jesus is the best picture God ever had took." She had the idea. Can you think of a better one? I can't. Yet the idea is so vast and wonderful that no picture, music, poetry, even Scripture itself can contain all that Jesus is, or is to us.

Yet if we don't know what we have been given as the truth, if we don't immerse ourselves into the sources of Jesus' life we already have available, we will never even get a clue of who He is and who we are. The Holy Scriptures, the sacraments, the fellowship, our prayers and all our life-connections to Christ, are what we have, and these blessed treasures determines who we are and will become.

Moreover, we have been blessed by reality and not fantasy - real friends, a real church, a very real and present God in Christ, who also teaches how to be real - how to love, how to serve, how to show mercy, how to forgive, to live without shame, how to heal and how to suffer for His sake. It is so easy to take all this treasure for granted, isn't it?

~ * ~

Copyright by Rev. Dr. A. Philip Parham
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
A. Philip Parham, is an Episcopal priest and counselor
who serves on the board of directors of the National
Episcopal Coalition on Alcohol. He holds a Doctor of
Ministry degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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