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Eph 1:19-2:8 - Identity: Jesus-centered

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INTRODUCTION SECTION
Who are you?
Where do you get a sense of significance? Security?
What are you working towards and hoping for?
What would be crushing in your life if it didn’t work out?
These are questions of identity.
SERIES INTRO
“How do I follow Jesus?” This is a very important question w/ great implications.
But it is slightly misleading, because this question would often lead us to discussing “WHAT” we are to do in following Jesus. But we are actually doing to focus on WHO, on identity.
: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
BAPTISM story - pushing guy’s head down!
WHITEBOARD
Jesus-centered (all authority) Family Sent Servants () (Triune baptism).
God is relational, 3 and I. He invites us into relationship with him through trusting Jesus and then we receive a new identity based on him. This new identity leads to new relational practices.
Mattias
Born Feb 12, 2012. Birth Story.
We were both wheeled out of that room and we were changed. We became parents. A parent is a part of my identity, it is WHO I am. Parenting, caring, discipling, teaching, etc. that is WHAT I do.
WHO - WHY - HOW
. But what we are really going to examine in this series is “WHO” we are. We are going to talk about identity because the WHAT of our lives flows from the WHO of our source of identity.
Why We Exist as a Church:
To Know Jesus and Make Him Known in Everyday Life - Together.
Who we are as Jesus-followers:
Jesus-centered Family of Sent Servants.
This is our identity.
Why We Exist:
To Know Jesus and Make Him Known in Everyday Life - Together.
This is our purpose.
When our identity becomes more real our relational practices adjust. We begin to live out UP, IN, OUT relationships.
IMAGE (connecting our Identity and Our Vision)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
WHITEBOARD
There are many ways to express this reality. WHY we exist, we see the Up, In, Out dimension. WHO we are, we see the UP, IN, OUT dimensions. The Great Commandment () (UP, OUT) + New Commandment (IN) ().
Jesus-centered (all authority) Family Sent Servants () (Triune baptism)
This series is about Following Jesus.
Following Jesus transforms our everyday life because "who" we are is transformed. We receive a new identity that leads to new practices.
Becoming a parent, changed what I do, but actually transformed who I am. Who we are connects to who God is (whiteboard).
Here is the reality that we see.
IMAGE (connecting our Identity and Our Vision)
There are many ways to express this reality. WHY we exist, we see the Up, In, Out dimension. WHO we are, we see the UP, IN, OUT dimensions. The Great Commandment () (UP, OUT) + New Commandment (IN) ().
However you express it, life is about relationships. God is relational, he is a triune community and he made us for relationships. A simple way to process our relational rhythms is Up-In-Out.
SERIES - we will look at the different facets of our identity, how that impacts our relational practices, and the obstacles before us. We will discuss Ephesians chapter 2 each week.
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Big Idea regarding Identity: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
What does Jesus have to do with me discovering myself and my identity?
How can becoming centered around Jesus lead to my freedom? Religion binds us and restricts our freedom doesn’t it?
Becoming Jesus-centered involves us understanding a few things. Three observations from Ephesians on being Jesus-centered and receiving our identity from Jesus.
Jesus is in the center, not me. “I don’t know best.”
involves a specific shift and here is our obstacle.
Moving from the sovereignty & centrality of self to the sovereignty & centrality of a Saviour.
Open Bibles to (p. 976)
Ephesians 1:19–23 ESV
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Jesus is above all. Everything revolves around him.
Jesus actually rose from the dead, in history. Can’t get into the historical info right now but know this. Christianity is unique in that it is based on the historical moment of the resurrection - you remove that historical reality and Christianity is done.
Jesus is king of all, all is under his reign, all is created to revolve around him. Acknowleding this reality impacts our understanding of identity.
He is the authority. He is source of identity. He gives value.
We default to being self-centered and want to be sovereign selves. We naturally turn inward rather than to Jesus. Let’s talk about how we aim to find life and identity separate from Jesus.
But we don’t live as Jesus-centered people, not perfectly anyways. We drift another direction, and it is a direction that has become a conviction of our city and culture.
“You Are At The Center”
You act as your own authority and define your own truth, “what’s true for me.”
You
You can find your true self within and “be yourself.” Choose your identity, define your own value.
TWO CHOICES
CULTURAL SAYS
“I need to travel or take some time to find myself.”
“Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are”
I am reading a “self-help” book.
You need to look out for #1.
You need to look within to find yourself and the power that lies within.
Discover your deeper desires and dreams and with focus you can make them a reality.
Background:
Ancient Cultures (and some cultures today) believed that one's self-worth and value came from the community, tribe that bestowed it on you. It was understand that you suppressed your personal emotions in order to live out your role in your family.
Christianity emerged and placed importance on the emotions of each person. Each person has value in and of themselves as we are made in the image of God. Each one of us will stand before God one day. The value of each person was emphasized and ultimately one's value came from God.
Western cultural took the fruit of individual value, cut it off from God the root, and injected it with steriods. Now, our sense of value and importance no longer comes from our community, nor does it come from a divine place. Now it comes from within.
Examples:
Frozen “Let it Go”
Disney, the main character is no longer going to be the “good girl” that her family wanted her to be. She was going to “let go” and be herself.
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!
Let it go, let it go
Portrays this common idea that we are our own authority. That we can define our identity, discover our identity and we need to resist anything that others say that would come against that.
TWO CHOICES: Jesus-centered or self-centered?
Two problems when we choose to be a sovereign self.
Big Idea: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
TWO CHOICES: Jesus-centered or self-centered?
Two problems when we choose to be a sovereign self.
PROBLEMS
Timothy Keller speaks to numerous challenges to living with this sovereignty of self philosophy for life.
a. Incoherence: idea that we can discern + define our own identity in isolation is incoherent with our experience in reality.
We can’t decide & discover our own identity in isolation (doesn’t match our experience in reality).
Additionally, the desires within us are incoherent. How can we fulfill our deepest desires when our desires are in conflict? How do we know which desires are truly us and which to prioritize? Example: stellar career & certain relationships. You can’t have both all the time - what then?
+++Home Outfitters. Nat’s co-workers, husbands watch porn and go to strip club. “That’s okay as long as he only looks and doesn’t touch.” “What are you going to do, men will be men.” So what am I a “man” w/ sexual desires or a “devoted husband” who practices self-control.
Our desires are incoherent
How can we fulfill our deepest desires when our desires are in conflict? How do we know which desires are truly us and which to prioritize? Example: stellar career & certain relationships. You can’t have both all the time - what then? Plus, our feelings and desires change so basing an identity of desires doesn’t work.
How can we fulfill our deepest desires when our desires are in conflict? How do we know which desires are truly us and which to prioritize? Example: stellar career & certain relationships. You can’t have both all the time - what then? Plus, our feelings and desires change so basing an identity of desires doesn’t work.
Plus, our feelings and desires change so basing an identity of desires doesn’t work.
It is actually an illusion to think that we can decide who we are based on our feelings or desires.
Keller gives example of mental experiment:
Anglo-Saxon Warrior in AD800 in Britain. He has two contradictory impulses and feelings. One, is aggression. When people disrespect him or oppose his family he wants to crush them! In his honor-shame society, warriors are respected within it. He says “that is who I am. I am warrior who crushes those who oppose me!” The other impulse is same-sex attraction. He reflects and says “that is not who I am, I will suppress that.” Now imagine a young man in Vancouver today with the same two feelings and impulses, what will he do? He will look at the anger and aggression and say “that is not who I am. I don’t crush people.” He maybe goes to anger management. But the same-sex attraction and his sexual desire he will accept - that is who I am.
What does this show?
We don’t simply get our sense of identity from our feelings within. We interpret our feelings and desires through a cultural grid. The warrior & the Vancouverite doesn’t simply “choose to be themselves” they are discerning who they choose to be based on their community, the cultural heroes, etc. Our specific culture is informing us.
It is an illusion to think that we decide for ourselves in isolation.
a. Incoherence: idea that we can discern + define our own identity in isolation is incoherent with our experience in reality.
Big Idea: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
b. Pressure: We can’t place value on ourselves and therefore have to earn value.
Ephesians
Ephesians 2
We recognize this. You can try to tell yourself that you are beautiful but it lacks until someone else you respect comments on your looks - that is worth a week of self-talk. People love likes on instagram or comments on our house. We need someone else and really someone higher to grant us value.
First ask yourself: “What’s in it for me?”
I believe Jesus but this is still true of me. Preaching & Leading. I can tell myself I am doing well, I can try to look to Jesus, but I drift to trying to achieve identity as a leader through the affirmation of others.
In traditional societies, if you did what was expected by the community then you were accepted and valued. Be a faithful daughter, a faithful farmer in your dad’s footsteps. But in modern times, you now have to create an identity from scratch, you have to find yourself - you have to earn your value. Now career, looks, romance, success these aren’t just good things but necessary things in order to have a sense of identity and value.
This is pressure! You have felt this.
I believe Jesus but this is still true of me. Preaching & Leading. I can tell myself I am doing well, I can try to look to Jesus, but I drift to trying to achieve identity as a leader through the affirmation of others.
Psychologists look at western culture today as the most anxious in history. There is such pressure - this is not good news. WHO ARE YOU?
Big Idea: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
RECAP:
Trying to be sovereign and placing ourselves at the center doesn’t work!
Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
a. Incoherence: idea that we can discern + define our own identity in isolation is incoherent with our experience in reality.
b. Pressure: We can’t place value on ourselves and therefore have to earn value.
Jesus is at the center and when acknowledge this reality it is better and we can be more free.
Big Idea: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
If there is a corpse here. We could do positive self-talk, we could
Jesus is at the center and when acknowledge this reality it is better and we can be more free.
We are dead and no amount of self-searching, or positive self-talk, or dreaming dreams can raise the dead!
Jesus is offering something better! He leads us to critique aspects of our culture but He also completes the desires of our culture.
When we try to find identity, value, purpose on our own we face problems. We discussed two of them.
RECAP: Two problems we noted is incoherent w/ our experience. How can we discover our own identity when things aren’t clear to us and in fact our desires are at times at odds. We don’t find ourselves in isolation.
flouring life today and eternal life forever. We can’t grant ourselves that life.
Incoherence: We can’t decide & discover in isolation (doesn’t match our experience in reality).
2. Pressure: We can’t place value on ourselves and therefore, have to earn value.
Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Jesus is offering us something better!
Ephesians 2:4–8 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
We face problems because beyond our sense of meaning, confidence, security…there is a spiritual reality. Apart from Jesus we are spiritually dead.
Our attempts to find purpose and value on our own is like putting make-up on a corpse.
Three Observations From Ephesians
Jesus is in the center, not me. “I don’t know best.”
Eph 2:
Recognize I am dead without Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
Whatever gives us identity and value - we are enslaved to that.
He wants to grant us a new identity, authority with Jesus, purpose with Jesus - not based on what we achieve, we simply receive it by faith.
We are dead and no amount of self-searching, or positive self-talk, or dreaming dreams can raise the dead! We can try to distract ourselves or convince ourselves but underneath it all we won’t find what we are looking for because what we are looking for is life - flouring life today and eternal life forever. We can’t grant ourselves that life.
3. Jesus can give me new life and new identity
Open bibles to (page 976)
Ephesians 2:4–5 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Big Idea
Listen to this good news! Jesus invites us to trust him and place him at the center. Recognize he rules, recognize that we are needy and helpless without him, recognize that his offers us life and we can receive it.
God took action to take us from death to life despite us. It isn’t based on us but on him, on his love, on the wealthy of his mercy!
Ephesians 2:6–8 ESV
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
He raises us with Christ. We are no longer dead, we have hope, we have purpose, we have authority.
We don’t achieve this, we receive this. It is a gift of God - a gift we only have to open and we open it by faith, by trusting Jesus.
Incredibly good news! God tells us that our identity is inherent not earned. We are made in God’s image and therefore every person is valuable.
FREEDOM. People have told me they don’t want to be chained down by Jesus and his rules - they want to be free. Free to be themselves, to walk their own path. But we aren’t actually free - we are bound to the ways of our world, our culture. We can only get identity from outside ourselves and whatever gives us identity holds our heart - we are enslaved to that.
If healthy successful family or career is your primary source of identity - this gives you value and you are enslaved. If your family falls apart, your job is lost then it is crushing.
If we have to try to achieve our own identity then we are actually enslaved to wherever we look for that. We serve our career, our looks, our spouse, our kids, our bank account, our grades, our boss.
Jesus offers true freedom. We frees us from the pressure of proving and striving. When we place him at the centre and trust him - he saves us and gives us a new identity. Our value, self-worth, acceptance by God is not based on our performance but on the performance of Jesus. It is grace!
“Not your own doing, it is the grace of God!”
We are servants of Jesus but we become truly free. He helps and frees me to be me.
First ask yourself: “What’s in it for me?”
Big Idea: For me to be me (and be free) becoming Jesus-centered is key.
Rich dad, poor dad.
I no longer have to live for acceptance of my culture. If my boss or my dad doesn’t approve I am secure in the approval of the Father and Boss who matters most.
Freedom.
We recognize that we are much worse than we imagined but more loved and accepted than we hoped. This leads us to both humility and confidence in Christ.
we can be free to fall-short because our identity is based on our achievements. Our shortfalls don’t lead us to insecurity but instead humility. At the same time, we are confident because we can know that we are valued and have purpose in Christ.
We are free from insecurity but also from being egotistical.
Our country desires freedom, peace, security, acceptance, meaning....In Jesus, we are invited into all of that. He completes the inner desires that we all have. But opposes our culture in the way to get all those things. We don’t find or achieve on our own - we receive from him.
Who Are You?
Travel to find myself.
The invitation is to move from the sovereign-self- to trusting the sovereign savour. From self-centered to Jesus-centered. Trust him and place at the centre and we can start to become more free, more ourselves, and more human.
REVIEW
Jesus is in the center, not me. “I don’t know best.”
Recognize I am dead without Jesus.
3. Jesus can give me new life and new identity.
CONCLUSION
Who Are You?
Jesus-centered Family Sent Servants.
If you submit to Jesus and start the Jesus-centered journey then you receive a new identity.
You have security and value - you are God’s child in his family.
You have security and value - you are God’s child in his family.
You have security and value - you are God’s child in his family.
You have significance and meaning - you are sent as his servant to make Jesus known in all of life joining with God as he works to make all things new!
This assumes that we have the ability to find & define ourselves. It also speaks to our idea that we do this on our own separate from our community. But we are created for relationship, for roots.
But it is slightly misleading, because this question would often lead us to discussing “WHAT” we are to do in following. But what we are really going to examine in this series is “WHO” we are. We are going to talk about identity because the WHAT of our lives flows from the WHO of our source of identity.
Mattias
Born Feb 12, 2012. Birth Story.
We were both wheeled out of that room and we were changed. We became parents. A parent is a part of my identity, it is WHO I am. Parenting, caring, discipling, teaching, etc. that is WHAT I do.
Where do you get a sense of significance? Security?
What are you working towards and hoping for?
What would be crushing in your life if it didn’t work out?
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