During the long drive home from a miserable day at work, my mind swirled in a storm of midlife doubt and confusion. Which I could no longer ignore. I exited the interstate, turned off the radio and sat waiting anxiously at the red light. Into the rear view mirror I studied my worn out reflection as tears filled my eyes.
Oh God, who am I? I wondered to myself, my heart searching for some form of stability amidst all the demands of life…
I am Nancy, the mother of two children and the wife of Michael Simms, a successful lawyer.
I am the friend of many well-known people.
I am a C.P.A. and maintain a respected business here in town.
I am a health enthusiast and gardener.
I am …
Really, Nancy, my conscience interrupted my thoughts. Is that who you are?
Yes, I thought defensively, in a meager attempt to hold my image together.
Why is that? he silently pinned me down.
Well, I thought quickly, I do those things, so…. that means that those things are who I am.
So you’re saying that those things are who you are? he challenged me.
Yes, I thought, unsure of his point.
Are you–your name? he offered.
Hmmm…. I thought. I don’t know. I guess so.
Nancy, those things you listed about yourself, he explained, are only labels you put on yourself and activities you perform. He paused. They are not who you are.
I didn’t know what to think. I suddenly felt completely naked. Traffic started moving.
Nancy, he continued, did you know that who you are can come only from your identity?
Oh? I didn’t know that, I thought in confusion. And… where does identity come from? I wondered.
Good question, he posed. Your identity can come only from your birth.
That’s interesting, I engaged him trying to understand. So, if I was born in Florida, that makes me a Floridian?
Geographically, yes. But not spiritually.
Spiritually? I conceded. Explain that.
Nancy, every person born on fallen planet Earth was born physically by his mother, and spiritually by default into the fallen family line of Adam who was the first man.
Oh, yeah, I remember Adam and Eve.
Yes. Unfortunately, Adam chose independence from God. And that self-rule was so incredibly poisonous to the human race that it automatically infected fully every single person born after him. Every person takes his first breath in this world waving a large banner with these words: ‘Independent from God.’
Eew, I thought, scrunching my nose. That sounds pretty radical.
It is indeed. That banner of autonomy is our automatic identification with Adam- apart from God. It says, ‘I don’t need You, God. Kiss off,’ he explained. And all those who think they don‘t need God, he added, certainly don‘t have to have Him.
You mean He won’t force people to come to Him? I wondered.
No. He won’t, he offered confidently. The problem is that many don‘t comprehend the truth that only from God do we get life and goodness. And that rejecting life and goodness leaves only His wrath to receive, he continued. And that includes ultimately, exclusion from every good thing that He provides like beauty, light, food, water, air, shelter, comfort, protection from evil and enjoying the company of others.
That sounds scary. I definitely don’t want that, I figured. But if I’m born with a character automatically rejecting God, can I ever turn around into being His friend? I wondered.
Good question, Nancy. There is another family line totally separate from Adam‘s. It is not a fallen line, not an independent line, and not a line that ever experiences any wrath at all, he explained. It’s a family line that comes directly from God, and leads directly back to Him, he furthered.
Wow, I thought.
That family line He made for us when He sent to the people of the world His own child to lead them back home to Him.
Cool. A direct route, I agreed. That’s pretty simple.
Simple as simple can be, he confirmed. So, to answer your question, Nancy, we can change family lines by getting out of Adam’s family line altogether and in to God’s family line, he explained. We do that through His offspring, Christ, the Messiah.
Adam was the first man who messed things up and Jesus was sent as the second man to make things right between us and God, he continued. Each person chooses either to remain in Adam‘s family line and suffer the wrath of God, or contrarily, to join God‘s family line and enjoy His love and mercy forever.
So, God is actually offering all people a simple solution to our natural rebellion against Him? I questioned him.
But how can He do that? I wondered. Why doesn’t He reject us like we rejected Him? I certainly wouldn’t give that great an offer to a bunch of jerks that rejected me, I added.
That’s just the point, he furthered. He is not at all like we are. We live with a tit-for-tat mentality. I nodded my head, trying to understand. But He is very different. He is absolute perfection, the Source of all Love. Out of that Love He gives us the unbelievable offer. And when we bow our hearts and receive it, His love for us completely overcomes our collective offenses toward Him.
That is a lot-of-love! I concluded.
It is. And it is a love that is entirely unfamiliar to us. Deep down we can’t really believe that He could be that good.
I can see how someone would never believe that.
Believing wholeheartedly that God sent Christ to reunite you to Him is how to change family lines and be His friend, Nancy.
So, what do I do? I wondered.
Believe Him and receive the gift. That’s what you do, he explained.
So simple. I scratched my head contemplating such love.
Since identity comes only from your birth and you were first-born physically in to Adam, if you want to change your identity you must be born, so to speak, a second time: spiritually in to Christ. I listened intently to his words as he continued. In other words, if you know deep down that you are not perfect, and that this world is not perfect, then that is clear evidence to you that you are trapped in Adam’s defective family line. If you know this then naturally, you will want sincerely to ask God to rescue you from wrath and put you securely in to His family line which leads right back to Him.
And He will let me? I pondered.
Yes, if that is what you truly want.
Cool. I can do that.
Anyone can. It’s called being born spiritually or being born in Christ as God’s own child. Scripture says, God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. When you ask to be rescued, God transfers you from the darkness in Adam’s family line over to the heavenly light of Christ’s family line.
So, when you talk about identity, you’re identifying who I am by my birth alone, I thought. That makes sense. You go back to the root. I started to grasp it. And you’re saying that I can choose to change my identity by changing my birth, I continued my thoughts. Wow, that’s a powerful choice!
It’s all yours, he concluded.
So when I choose to change family lines and my identity shifts from Adam to Christ, are you saying that being in Christ’s family is my real and only identity so I don’t need all those labels and activities I listed to define myself anymore?
Exactly, he clarified. It’s not what you do, but your birth that defines who you are in God’s economy. Being in Christ is more than enough.
I pulled up the driveway into the garage and turned off the ignition.
Okay, I thought, I think I’m getting this.
I am in Christ.
Who I am and what I have, earn and do are different from that.
My name is Nancy.
I have two children, a husband and friends.
I earned a C.P.A.
I enjoy gardening…
But… I am in Christ.
I am really in Christ! –That is who I am!
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
1 Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
1 John 1:5b
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light