identity amnesia :: 5 | 5

Responsibility
REMINDER :: WHAT WE ARE TO DO

With identity comes responsibility.  A believer in Jesus Christ is a person of action not apathy.  A believer in Jesus Christ walks as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). 

We forget what we are supposed to do sometimes.  The sickest thing in this world is a person who claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ and who acts in a way that disagrees with their identity as a Christian.  A believer who fails to do the will of God inevitably hurts other people, destroys their own life, and is a terrible witness to the love and salvation that comes from God.

There is a story about an old married couple who noticed that their memory was not as good as before. They were worried that this could be dangerous, because one of them could accidentally forget to turn off the cooker and cause a fire. So, they decided to visit their doctor to get some help. Their doctor told them that perhaps they should write little notes to remind themselves. So when they got home, the wife said, "Darling, will you please go to the kitchen and get me a dish of ice cream? And why don't you write that down so you won't forget?"    “Nonsense," said the husband, "I can remember a dish of ice cream!"   "Well," said the wife, "I'd also like some strawberries on it. You better write that down, because I know you will forget."  "Don't be silly," replied the husband. "…a dish of ice cream and some strawberries. I can remember that!"   "OK, dear, but I'd like you to put some whipped cream on top. Now you'd really better write it down now. You'll forget," said the wife.   "Come on, my memory's not all that bad," said the husband. "No problem, a dish of ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream."  With that, the husband went into the kitchen and shut the door behind him. The wife could hear him getting out pots and pans, and making some noise inconsistent with his preparing a dish of ice cream, strawberries, and whipped cream. He came out of the kitchen about 15 minutes later. He walked over to his wife and gave her a plate of bacon and eggs. His wife took one look at the plate, then she looked up at her husband and said, "Hey, where's the toast?"

Identity Amnesia causes us to forget what we are supposed to do.  We end up doing things that go against our core purpose as a follower of God.  And we end up leading other people away from the original intention God had for them too.  When we forget who we are, who we know, and what we have, we mess up in this world and we give people the wrong message.

Do not love the world or anything in it, John says.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  That’s a powerful statement.  Some believers have taken this very seriously and have removed themselves from interaction with the world.  There is a monk in the 4th century named Simeon who took this to the extreme.  He climbed on top of a pillar, a large pole, and sat there for many years.  People would bring him food and raise it up to him and help him go to the bathroom.  Only that way, Simeon thought, could he fully devote himself to loving God and not be contaminated by the world.  So he made himself untouchable, unreachable.  Many Christians today form their own little separated pockets that put a wall up to the world.  They resist interaction and turn inward lest they be poisoned by the evil that’s in the world.  As a result, the world begins to think that Christianity is not relevant to the needs and issues that the world faces. 

Is that what John is saying we should do?  That because of our identity in Jesus Christ we should entrench ourselves?  No!  Remember who it is that we know.  We know God.  And God is the one who so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.  God doesn’t love sin.  He hates it.  But he loves sinners who are in the world.  He loves them so much that he would enter in to their environment and engage it in a fierce battle of life and death.  He touched evil and allowed himself to be battered by it because he so loved the world.  Remember, you have been forgiven of your sin by God who loves you. And be reassured that evil could not keep Jesus Christ down.  And through Jesus Christ you also have overcome the evil one.  So engage the world with the light and the life and the power and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  It is not wrong to love the world- the way God does.

It is wrong, however, to love the world in a way that is contradictory to who we are in Jesus Christ.  John explains what he means in chatper 2 verse 16 (of 1 John).  If we crave after sinful things, lust after things that catch our eye, boast about how much we have or about what we have done, we are wasting our time and damaging our witness to the world.  Marriages fall apart because husbands or wives begin lusting after things they shouldn’t allow their eyes to catch hold of.  Dads and moms fail their responsibility because they chase after their own dreams and boast about themselves rather than serving their kids with their lives.  Relationships break down, communities fall apart, idols are worshipped and sin is rampant because people crave after things that are worthless, fleeting, temporary, falsely fulfilling and empty.  All of the things of the sinful world will pass away, John says.  So don’t love those things.  Instead, do the will of God and live.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

4 thoughts on “identity amnesia :: 5 | 5

  1. right on, Tracy. Your comment inspires me to sit in awe and wonder even more. We fall short of perfection. And God is even greater than perfect.
    Ephesians 3:14-21 fits… (also for our Trinity discussion in the other post). Paul says: “When I consider the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him… And may you have the power to understand… how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it…”

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  2. hm… that is so cool Ken.. That even our view of ‘perfection’ can be so totally OVERWHELMED by God’s outpouring of it- That there is NO limit to His Righteousness and Goodness! ‘Oh the depth of the riches, both the wisdom and the knowledge of God…’
    That makes me wonder though… where does this human perspective of ‘perfection’ come from? We humans measure ourselves to this limited potential that is called ‘perfection’… but really, it is rather an idealist view… We aren’t capable of it ourselves, and we do not see it in others… so from where does this idea originate? what i mean is, we are measuring ourselves against something that we have very little practical experience with. I can only say that it must be innate… we KNOW in our very being that there is MORE than our own falleness; This in itself is a testimony to the existence of perfection and the existence of a Perfect, True and completely Righteous God!
    We want to be found blameless, to do right and to be free of mistakes- and yet we are completely incapable of doing so ourselves… But in response God says, “even [your human view of] perfection has limits, but [my] commands have no limit!”
    Very, very cool.

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  3. That is an interesting statement: “Do the will of God and live.” Does God really expect us to be able to do His will all of the time? He can’t have[expected that], or there is no reason for Jesus’ coming… I understand and I hear that we need to be shaken up- we need to step out of our Christian bubbles and, as you said it, “engage the world with the light and the life and the power and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ”, and we need to pursue “finding who we are, who we know, and what we have.” But the ultimate story is that we ARE going to fail. People WILL be disappointed in the church because we WILL mess up in this world and we WILL give people the wrong message. All that being said, does that free us from the responsibility of trying? It can’t. Hebrew 10:26-29: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
    Obviously what we DO is very important to God- and the last thing I want to do is ‘trample the Son of God underfoot.’ But if we cannot DO enough to sufficiently represent God or his Bride, sometimes it feels like a test, that no matter how much I study or how well i know the material, i will never ever pass… it’s a struggle for me, especially in light of God’s Grace- that I get an A++ regardless of my effort or knowledge, but I am still expected to do all I can to prep for and take the test. (And it isn’t even about not wanting to ‘prep or take the test,’ but just more the principle of, after failing again and again, still dusting myself off and getting back up and trying again.)
    Furthermore, our work must influence the rubric somehow, but in the end it is HIS ‘work’ that determines our grade. It’s this weird mix of ‘it doesn’t matter what you do- God’s grace is enough (to get you an A++), but it does matter what you do…’ In the end, I think the perspective [of my analogy] is wrong… in my perfectionism i am still focusing on MY ‘successes’ or ‘failures,’ rather than focusing on GOD’s grace. The real truth is that God’s grace relates to us more than just supplying a passing grade. God is teaching and leading us towards being better ‘students’ and ‘test-takers,’- and in the end is it our performance, or our effort (and our relationship to our teacher) that we are judged on? Relationship is too sacred a thing to impersonally evaluate. And it is out of RELATIONSHIP that our fruit is grown, and that our ‘test-taking skills’ improve. So our job is to keep attached to the Vine; keep listening to the Teacher; keep our eyes on Grace.

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