We’ve been learning for some time now all about who we are in Christ. We are looking at several identity crises that exist surrounding who we truly are when everything else is stripped away; our true identity.
In Christ, we become so many new things! Born again, children of God, free indeed, temples filled with the Holy Spirit, overcomers, equipped with spiritual gifts, and unconditionally loved. Today, we are closing up the series with this general, but incredibly awesome reality. We are God’s people.
Unfortunately, that means so many things to so many people. To some it is a close-knit group of elites shaming sinners for their sinful and shameful ways. To some, it means that we are set free to do whatever we want floating in the ocean of God’s grace that will just wash away any wrongdoing so that we don’t even need to think about right living or holiness.
What it really means is neither of these things. What it means to be God’s people is tremendous!
Sure, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, but we’re even more than just a family. We’re part of an international and eternal faith community; God’s People!
We’re the result of the ministry of those who have gone before us going back thousands of years and we are continuing their ministry forward for even more generations yet to come! We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves!
There are several cathedrals across the world that are a great physical representation of what we are spiritually. Some took literally hundreds of years built by generations of people. The Milan Cathedral in Italy was built over the course of 577 years and the Cologne Cathedral in Germany was built over the course of 632 years. Both took more than twice as long as our nation has even existed!
We are God’s people working together over the centuries with the same goal and for the same purpose. With every loving act of service, with every promise of God shared, with every move in the spiritual gifts, with every prophetic word of encouragement given, we are doing our small part to build something huge; God’s Kingdom!
Hebrews 11 goes through a huge list of the great people of faith throughout the centuries and ends with this:
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Paul also wrote using this same building analogy to help us to understand our role as God’s people:
1 Corinthians 3:5-16
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
Though our roles may seem small and insignificant, together, we are building something incredible! As we work together and give God our best, we are building and our work will be richly rewarded! Of course, all that we do is done by building on the solid foundation of Jesus. He is our firm foundation, the cornerstone! Peter wrote:
1 Peter 2:4-10
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16)
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” (Psalm 118:22)
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.” (Isaiah 8:14)
They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, God’s people!
God is not ashamed of you, God is proud of you! You are His people!
11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.” (Psalm 22:22)
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.” (Isaiah 8:17)
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.” (Isaiah 8:18)
… Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
You are God’s people and He has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us. A new city built the way things were supposed to be back before Adam and Eve sinned against God causing all of us to be born into sin. John was blessed to see a glimpse of it here:
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
– a chosen people
Before God spoke a word at creation, He knew you. He chose you to be born for such a time as this. He uniquely created you on purpose and for a purpose. Who He needs you to be is to just be you. He doesn’t need you to be more like this person or that person, He needs you to be more like you. You are His workmanship and His handiwork. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, personally knit together in the womb by God, Himself!
– a royal priesthood
We have the divine calling and honor to stand in the gap, interceding to God on behalf of others. We are princes and princesses in God’s kingdom and speak with King Jesus on behalf of others regarding the needs that they have. We can boldly enter His throne room requesting His forgiveness for their sin, for their healing, their deliverance, their peace, their provision, whatever it is that they need from God’s abundant riches!
We have been given the authority to take a stand between the devil and others. This is why we pray for one another and seek after God on their behalf. This is why we use the gifts of the Spirit wherever we go and whatever we do. We are a royal priesthood!
– a holy nation
The nation of Israel began as a single family. Jacob was renamed Israel and his children became the twelve tribes of Israel still alive and well to this very day. God chose to bless them and to grow and develop them into a set apart people to represent Him to the world. No, they were not perfect and their sins and imperfections were many, but God worked through that to show the world His nature and character.
We have been ingrafted into that same family line. We are a holy nation, a people set apart to represent Him to every tribe, nation, and tongue across the earth. Together, we are the body of Christ re-presenting Him to those around us. When we each do this in seemingly small ways within our tiny sphere of influences, we are part of a huge, world-wide ministry and a movement that will endure until the end of all things!
– God’s special possession
You are God’s people and again, He is unashamed of you. He is proud of you! Your temptations, your weaknesses, your failures, your successes, everything about you! Just think about the people that He chose to write about in His word.
It recorded people who almost all started in humble beginnings. They made their share of mistakes, but God worked through them all to do great things! God was unashamed of them and recorded it all for us to see. We continue that story. Common, ordinary, imperfect people who love and serve an extraordinary, perfect God. It is through us whom He has saved that He chooses to do the miraculous!
If Jesus can take a man like Saul who has made his life purpose to imprison and kill Christians in order to stop the spread of the gospel, save him, give him a new name (Paul) and use him to spread the gospel to the nations; consider what He could do through your life!
It is overwhelming to think that the work that we are doing to build God’s Kingdom here and now is actually taking place on the work that Paul, himself, accomplished. We are building on the foundation that Jesus laid through His ministry.
What we are doing is incredibly important and eternally significant, even though it may seem small and insignificant now. We are God’s people, which means so, so much! It’s time to get to building and seeing God’s Kingdom here on the earth even as it is in Heaven!