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Guest blogger, Ashley Jones, finishes up our Identity in Christ series today.  Enjoy! – Brandon

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free: but Christ is all and in all. Colossians 3:11

How would you describe yourself? Do you use words like sweet tempered, hopeful, sarcastic, pessimistic, a realist, mellow, an extrovert or introvert? Or perhaps you use words like movie-buff, mama bear, or (insert favorite sport) fanatic.  Possibly you use words that link you to your geography or heritage: American, Texan, African-American, descended from the Pilgrims, the daughter/son of so-and-so.  Or even your political and religious affiliations: Republican, Democrat, or Southern Baptist, Lutheran, and Non-denominational.  Each of these are examples of identifiers, words we use to tell people who we are.  With these we inform the world what or who we are about.  While none of these are particularly bad things, I propose that for those of us who are in Christ, these can be distractions from our true identity.  In our final week about our identity in Christ, I want to think about the descriptions we choose to label ourselves with: the words we choose to “wear.”

I am a mother to five, crazy, precious children and to be perfectly honest, when it comes to my babies, I can be a little over-protective.  Just the other day I ventured into a store with all five kids in tow.  For those of you who have ever had small children, you understand what a feat it is to accomplish any outing with everyone still alive and all limbs intact.  We were at the check-out and the cashier, a younger woman, picked up my 6-year old’s hand and moved him out of her way. She didn’t say, “Excuse me,” or ask him to move, she simply put her hand on my kid and moved him {can you feel my seething}. It seemed like we were just messing up her day.  {Enter Mama Bear} While I did not actually assault her, verbally or otherwise, in my mind, she was slain.  I was so angry at her attitude toward my children.  Here is the troubling part for me, even though it was all internal, I did not look at her as someone who may not know Jesus, I looked at her through my “Mama Bear” eyes.  I should have seen her through who I am in Christ. I did not deal with her kindly and compassionately, which is exactly how Jesus has dealt with me. Where this problem found its roots for me, as I suspect it does for other Christians, is that we choose to be {pick your identifier} FIRST, then Jesus follower.  I chose mom, over Christian.  And the truth is, the mama bear is not always Godly.

In Colossians, Paul gives us better, God-honoring instructions for who we are to be and how we are to conduct ourselves.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another. Colossians 3:12

Being a mother is obviously not a bad thing, but I can no longer be just a mama bear.  I am a follower of Jesus who happens to be a mama bear too.  See the difference?  Being those other identifiers is only bad when we choose to view the world through those lenses before we see them from a Christ-perspective. As believers, we MUST put our identity as Christians before any other attribute we identify with.  Not simply in what we say, but in our hearts and in our choices. When my focus is on my identity in Christ, rather than anything else I identify with, He rubs away my rough edges, to make me more like Him.  When I do this, the way I interact with everyone around me changes.  My brothers and sisters in Christ get the benefit of the doubt, rather than assumption of guilt, “Whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:13 I can’t walk around offended anymore.  I have been forgiven and the Christ-life demands that I forgive others as well.  And how I deal with the world who doesn’t know Him? Love.

And above all, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

When we wear God’s love, the world cannot help but be attracted to who Jesus is. We are not called to be perfect or to fight for a worldly cause, but to fight for people and love them well.

As we move through our days, the challenge for us as believers is to start identifying ourselves with Christ, first. And every other label, second. I am a Christian, who happens to be an American, not the other way around.

What does that look like for you? How can you put on your identity in Christ? Do you have to seek the Lord about shifting your focus? Or maybe, making amends with someone you’ve wronged wearing your other titles? God’s Word is very clear, that once we are in Christ, we lay down any other identifier and take on Jesus! Put on…compassion, humility, gentleness, and love. For now that we are in Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

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