As of late, I’ve tried to begin each day by asking two questions: (1) Who is Jesus? and (2) Who am I in relationship with him? Asking those two questions helps me begin each day with Jesus at the center and not myself—not my problems, struggles, or even successes. If Jesus is the center and meaning of the universe, then I think beginning each day by asking those two questions is “probably” a very good thing for me to do.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself over the years is that if I’m not careful, I can find my primary identity in who I am (“I am a husband, a father, an orphan advocate,” etc) and in what I do (“I serve orphans, lead Together for Adoption,” etc). But as a Christian, my primary sense of identity must not be found in who I am as a husband, father, or orphan advocate, nor should it be found in what I do. That’s not to say that who I am in these ways and what I do each day are not important. They are extremely important. Being and doing these things are essential parts of what it means to be human. It is to say, though, that only when my primary sense of identity is found in who Jesus is and who I am in relationship with him is my humanity actually preserved.
Apart from who Jesus is and who I am in relationship with him, my humanity (and what I do as a human being, no matter how noble) becomes either a source of confidence or a source of discouragement resulting in ingratitude toward God. If my primary sense of identity comes from my service of orphans, when I do well, I’ll feel good about myself and will likely look down on those who I don’t think serve orphans as well as I do. When I serve poorly, I’ll feel overly discouraged and will likely beat myself up for not having served well. So, as you can see, it’s important that I begin each day asking myself these two questions. What I’d like to do in the next two paragraphs, then, is provide a CliffsNotes version of my answers, the significance of which I’ll flesh out in part 4 of this series.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the one place—the only place—where God and man meet, perfectly and eternally. Not only is Jesus one in being with the Father, he is also forevermore one in being with humanity as a particular man. When the Son became man, being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, he “came forth as true man and took the person and name of Adam in order to take Adam’s place in obeying the Father” (Calvin, II.12.3). In the person of Jesus, then, reconciliation between God and man was worked out for us during the whole course of his life, with the climax coming at the cross, resurrection and ascension. Everything wrong with humanity has been made right in Jesus. In him we find a true resurrected human being who is enjoying perfect, unbroken communion with the Father, exercising dominion over the world as God originally intended, and who is totally free from every effect of the fall.
Who am I in relationship with Jesus? By virtue of who Jesus is in his incarnate Person, I am one who participates in his resurrected life, his communion with the Father, and his mission in the world. In union with Jesus I am becoming a truly human being. This is who I am—and it has everything to do with how I live each day.
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