In this post exploring our true identity, let’s look at the topic of transformation. God uses other believers to help us to transform our self-image, so that we are able to see ourselves as God sees us.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Bible tells us that we become a “new creation” when we accept Jesus as Lord. That verse can cause us to wonder if our conversion stuck, if we find ourselves still doing some of the things we did before we accepted Christ. How, we ask, our heads hanging in guilt and shame, can we be “new,” if we’re still doing the “old”?
We have to understand that our becoming like Jesus is a life-long process.
Although the Holy Spirit instantly begins to stir within us, we’re still “us.” Getting saved doesn’t instantly remove our bad habits and stinkin’ thinking. We slowly change as we allow God to work within us.
So if I’m in the habit of lying to others, I don’t instantly become someone who can be counted on to be truthful. If you view yourself as “damaged goods,” you won’t instantly view yourself as healthy and whole. If you know a friend who struggles with feeling worthy of God’s grace, she will continue to struggle until she chooses to walk confidently in God’s unconditional love. Our transformation requires that will be willing participants with Him.
One way that God works to transform us into His image is through other people. The story of Lazarus, found in the New Testament book of John, wonderfully illustrates how God uses people to accomplish the transformative process.
With a Little Help From Our Friends
When Jesus approached the tomb of his dead friend Lazarus, He cried out, “Lazarus, come out!” At His command, the man who had been dead for four days gained new life. As the amazed crowd looked on, Lazarus hobbled out of the tomb, wrapped like a mummy in his linen burial shroud.
Notice that the grave clothes did not fall off of Lazarus the moment Christ called him out.
Jesus could have chosen to have Lazarus bust out of his grave clothes in a dazzling display of power like the Incredible Hulk. But He didn’t. He chose to involve Lazarus’s friends and family in the transformation process by saying: “Unwrap him and let him go!”
When we become Christians, Christ gives us new life. “Step into the new life I have prepared for you!” He cries. But, like Lazarus, we emerge from the tomb of our past shrouded in — and constricted by — our grave clothes. We need help in casting them aside to walk into our new life.
To transform our sense of identity, we must surround ourselves with people who trust that God is doing a new work in us. Transformational environments include people who mirror the love and acceptance God holds for us.
Transforming Through Environment
What does an ideal transformational environment look like?
An environment that helps us to transform includes people who model the truth about who you are in Christ.
You need to spend quality time with people who clearly see that they are loved, valuable, and useful to God and others. People who are confident in who they are in Christ radiate an intimate relationship with God and genuinely enjoy serving Him. They help you to desire both, as well.
An environment that helps us to transform uses Scripture to clearly teach the truth about our identity in Christ.
We read, memorize, and meditate on the Bible primarily to get in touch with God’s heart. The more we know God’s heart, the more clearly we see that we are lovable, valuable, and competent in His eyes. The Bible is the basis of our Christian walk; every word is God’s truth to us.
An environment that helps us to transform provides a context of loving, intimate relationships that mirror God’s love for us.
As we see others act with open-hearted generosity, we learn to give ourselves away. When we see others forgive each other, we learn to forgive like Christ. As others model selflessness for us, we learn the joy of serving the way Christ served others. In transformational environments, we are buoyed, but we also buoy others. As a pastor perfectly put it in one Sunday sermon: “Some days I have faith, and you do not. Other days I lack faith, and I need some of yours.”
A note about churches: don’t expect them to be perfect. Churches are full of messy people, like you and me. But some churches love to wallow in the burial clothes, rather than tossing them off. If your church chooses to focus on condemnation rather than restitution, run to find one that presses into God’s amazing offer of new life through Him.
Step out of the grave and into God’s grace!
You are redeemed, you are forgiven, you are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit. Remember that you are God’s workmanship, you are a member of Christ’s body, you are Christ’s friend. You may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence. You are being transformed!
Our True Personal Identity
Part of rightly understanding our true personal identity requires that we know how God sees us. As our loving creator, God says two things to us: “You are my child,” and “You are chosen.” Do you sense God’s heart toward you? Can you wrap you mind around the truth that God was thinking about you before He even created the world?
Let that truth sink into the depth of your heart and mind. It may take a lot of determination on your part, but as you begin to realize just how valuable you are in God’s eyes, you will be able to break the chains that keep you from accepting and loving yourself. Ladies, we CAN drop the burden of what other people think—and the judgments we hold for ourselves!
This blog series is based on Josh’s book See Yourself as God Sees You. It is our prayer that during this series you come to recognize and accept your true personal identity! God couldn’t love you more!