April 15, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. - Matthew 5:43-48.
The Message translates Matthew 5:48 in this way: “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
John Smith has finally been identified! John was discovered in a snowdrift in Norway four months ago. An Oslo Police press release says, “the man did not possess any form of identification, and did not remember his name, origin, how he ended up in Norway or any other details of his life.” As the police worked to identify the man it was found that he could speak English well and understood at least four other languages. John said that he had been assaulted and from his wrists it appeared that he had been tied up with plastic ties. Finally, because of the efforts of many law enforcement agencies, a family in the Czech Republic has identified John as being their son. Even though John has been identified, he does not want his identity to be released. (04.10.14 NBC.com; Agence France Presse)
I have always been fascinated by amnesiacs and how the brain somehow blocks out the true identity of a person. Not knowing who you really are, as with “John Smith,” prevents you from moving forward with your life. Not knowing who you really are, prevents you from forming meaningful relationships with others. Not knowing who you really are, prevents you from having a life; it puts everything on hold. John has been at a standstill with his life these four months while waiting to discover is true identity. Although now that he has been identified, he does not want to release that information.
Once you come to know Jesus as your personal Savior, you have been “born again (John 3),” you have a new identity. But is just having that new identity enough? No, God has more for you; however, it requires a public release of your identity to others. The very first step in that public identification is to tell someone else about your new belief in Jesus. The second step given by God for identification as a “born again” child of God is to follow Jesus in public baptism. The third step is given to us in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5. What is that third step of identification of being a Christian? The third step is a continuing step which is to begin to live, to act, as Jesus would live and act.
Do you know your spiritual identity? Are you a child of God? Have you received Christ Jesus as your Savior and been “born again” by being birthed into the Kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit? Have you then allowed all others to know of your new found faith by following Jesus in baptism? And, are you now living as Jesus would want you to live? Have you identified with Jesus? Don’t keep it a secret! If you know your spiritual identity, don’t become a spiritual amnesiac; tell everyone you can about who you are as a believer in Jesus.