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Who are we – in Christ?

It’s more important than what we do!

Do we really know who we are in Christ?  Do we really understand our identity?  Don’t answer those questions quickly.  Often people respond to such questions by giving name, family background and work/profession.  But a true disciple of Christ knows that who we are in Christ is infinitely more important than what we do.

Reflect on the following: ``Brothers and sisters: for those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and, if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”  Romans 8:14-17

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:14-19

This month is particularly rich with great feasts:  The Most Holy Trinity, The feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the feasts of Saints Peter and Paul – this year, in June, also celebrates the conclusion of the Year of Saint Paul.  These are feasts that pour forth incredible grace for you and for me.  But how can we receive when we do not understand who we are, what we were born for and what we are called to be.

Saint Paul does a marvelous job of summarizing our identity in Christ:  the first in his letter to the Romans.  Let’s take a look at that first passage given above.  There are five key words or phrases that define who we are in Christ.  1) Sons and daughters 2) spirit of adoption 3) Abba, Father 4) heirs of God 5) destined for glory.

For 37 years, I have had the privilege of bringing Gospel truths to people on six continents.  The biggest obstacle that I have found to embracing our identity in Christ is not sin, but disbelief or unbelief.  I am a son/ daughter of God my Father.  That relationship is real.  Jesus Christ died on the Cross for me to break the bonds of sin and death – to give me new life in Christ – if only I put my faith in him.  God, my Father, will not lie; he is faithful to his promises.

Do I honestly believe that at my baptism, when I received the living water of Christ in my soul, that I became God’s true son or daughter? It is not a metaphor; it is the truth. He claimed me for his own; he poured forth into my being the gift of the Holy Spirit – whose hunger and thirst for the Father would cry out through me, I who am a living temple of the Holy Spirit. And by my baptism I have the right and the privilege of calling him Abba, a term of great affection in the East.  To be able to call God my papa, my daddy, my Abba. This is part of my inheritance here.  This is my identity, my dignity!

I, by baptism, became an heir of the Kingdom of heaven.  When I die I will experience the fullness of an  eternal relationship with the source of all truth and beauty and love.

This is no fairy tale.  This is the truth.  We cannot fully comprehend it, but if we put our faith in the one who created us and saved us and fathers us, life here will look very different.

The Father wants you to know him and he has given you of his Spirit – the family Spirit who will lead you into all truth:  the truth that God is your Father, that his son, Jesus, is your savior and your shepherd, the one who by offering his life redeemed you from hell that you might have eternal life in the Family of God.  This is real, brothers and sisters.  Not fairy tales, not pious stories to make a point.  We are joint heirs with the Son of God; we will inherit heaven if only we put our faith and trust in him.

He never said we would not suffer.  He never said that life would be easy. He did say that if we were willing to suffer in this life for the truth, for what is good and right – just as Jesus did – then we would receive everlasting life where all sorrow ends and be filled with the fullness of God Himself.

Do we believe?  That is the question.  God will give us the grace to believe if we turn our hearts and our whole lives over to him.  Many people say, “Well, it’s too late for me – I’m too old, I’ve sinned too much.  God would never accept someone like me.”   Those are lies that come from the pit of hell.  God loves you and called you his son/daughter.  He never turns away from you or stops thinking of you for a moment.  If he did, we would cease to exist.  No, he cries out for you, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened.  Come to me and I will give you rest.”  Ask God to “activate” the gift of faith to believe his promises – the gift given to you in Baptism.  But God also gave us free will and so we need to assent personally to this gift, tell the Lord we want to “begin” to live as a person of true faith.  Ask God for the grace – daily.

Try a little exercise.  Choose to live one day as though these promises are really true.  What would you do differently? How would you think about those things that concern you? What priorities would you have?  Would they be different than the ones you have today. Try it for one day.  And then, for another…

St. Paul absolutely knew the truth of what I have said here in this article. Paul prayed for his beloved Ephesians that they might be filled with the fullness of God Himself, to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge   This is how Jesus prays for you; this is how the saints pray for you!  The key is faith to believe that what God says and promises is true.  These promises are for you. Stop and read the verses above of that prayer NOW.

One day, “there shall no more be anything accursed, but the Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall worship him, they shall see his face and his name shall be on their foreheads.  And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun for the Lord God shall be their light and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:3-5)  Live your life now by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you so that others, seeing your life of faith, will be drawn to put their trust in God .  “Come, Holy Spirit, enflame the gifts given us in baptism and confirmation, especially the gift of faith.”  Let us run the race of faith together and pray for one another.