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Jesus, Define Me
I was reminded of how amazing the scriptures are as I read Ephesians 4, which is a letter from Paul to a group of believers from forever ago. I feel as though you could take me as I am today, transport me back in time to be a member of that group of believers in Ephesus as this letter was being read, and it would feel as though Paul was writing this letter to me. Culture and politics change, the world around us changes, even religion changes through the years, but the Gospel is rooted in reality; it is the story we are living in today, and it speaks to the truths of who God is, who we are, and who we are meant to be. And I’m reminded as I read Ephesians that God knows the realities of my heart.
“I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . . .” (v. 1). After chapters 1-3—which speak about how God sought us out and saved us, making us alive, and calling us to be one in Christ—Paul starts chapter 4 by saying, in short, “be who you are! You are a new creation, the old has gone the new has come”. Paul admonishes me that it is Christ who reveals to my heart His plan to save me, and who raised me up from the dead, and gives me a new purpose and new calling. But one of the main things that I find so relatable in this chapter is the way in which Paul does not assume that believers will instantly be successful in the way their actions represent their new identity. That is a reality every day for me. I am so quick to forget my new identity and calling, and revert back to a way of living that isn’t worthy of my new identity and calling. And it is not that I consciously decide, “I’d like to go back to living as the ‘old man’ today,” and then I start cursing at the traffic in front of me. I think it’s that my thoughts (in the futility of my mind, v.17) and my heart slowly begin to drift away from this “new man” I’m called to, and then my heart begins to shift back to this “old man” identity. But then Paul says:
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The part that says, “and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,” reminds me that Jesus is the “new man”; the new identity that I have been given. Christ is both the subject, what I am to set my mind on, and the sphere, the place—or more accurately, the person—through which my heart is renewed and I am enabled to live as the “new man”. So I am reminded in reading this that I am not striving for holiness and for good deeds to make me something I’m not. Rather, I know that the truth is in the person of Christ, that I am “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.
Jesus, help me to rest in you, remembering that I can walk in a manner worthy of the calling you called me to, because you have given me a new identity.