Kingdom Principle: Identity matures throughout life, beginning with death.
Identity is formed in uniquely in People of Faith by being Called, Chosen, & Commissioned. Identity is formed universally in People of Faith by being a Kingdom & Priests
Do you think you are more likely to be a sprinter or a marathon runner? Paul was more of a marathon runner (Acts 20:24, 1 Cor. 9:24), while Peter was a sprinter (Luke 24:12, John 21:7-8). Regardless they were both runners in the race. In order to run with perseverance the race marked out of you, you must throw off that which entangles you. (Hebrews 12:1) The Book of Hebrews establishes how it is that we are to be people of faith – living as a kingdom and priests. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) This call is our witness as we serve our God who revealed himself to Moses as I AM. (Exodus 3:14) In our reflection and bearing his image, we have our own I. A.M. established as Identity, Authority and Motivation. Over the next three posts we will look at each of postures separately….
When you are about to run a race, the famous call is to be “On your Mark” – this is to be in position. Sin at times has been described as missing the mark, based on an archery term. While that is not totally wrong, it may be more correct to say that sin is not only missing the mark it is also hitting the wrong mark. Like being in the wrong lane, on the wrong mark… Before you can run a race it is important you have your appointed mark – you know where you stand and you are in the correct posture. Your true identity is rooted on your mark. This mark is established in being called by God, to be “right” with God. From the point of our “calling” there must be movement, in a race the runners hear “Get Set”. To get set, is to move into a ready position. While in this shift runners do not yet run, the race has begun, and this is where most fouls occur, but the purpose here to prepare yourself to give it all you got. “Getting Set” is affirming your awareness of being Chosen and for you to choose to move solely in the direction of God. “Go!” confirms your commissioning and your unique identity expression in the Kingdom. Anticipating the “Go!” is being totally ready to run at a moment’s notice, but not moving until you are released. This is the point of breaking your will and seeking only His. In the scriptures this week we see Ananias leave his mark flawlessly. In a race, when everyone is lined up on the line – they all look somewhat similar, not identical, but generally in the same posture and position… but once the gun is sounding everyone’s race becomes their own. This is why it is so important to be “On your mark” – called, “Get set” – Chosen, so that when you “Go!” – you run in such a way to win the prize – for this is your Commission.
This week in the lectionary we see the calling of Saul (to be renamed and commissioned as Paul), the conclusion of the choosing and the re-launching of Peter’s Commissioning. We have a glimpse into Heaven where the billions of angel’s, the elders and four living creatures are encircling the throne of Jesus where they fulfill their lives purpose to bow in worship of the Lamb who was slain and is worthy to open the scroll. (Rev. 4:1-5:10) Imagine for just a moment, to be in a place where you sole purpose was to worship the Lord. (Further – know that is the purpose of your life here and now… but for most of us we remain stuck somewhere between our Calling and Choosing. The Psalm is a beautiful picture of worship and exalting of the Lord forever and ever living out our commissioning uniquely.
I have oversimplified here the process of Identity maturity via the metaphor, but you can look at it elsewhere in more theological terms but the focus this week is to take a personal relational lens on it. I have also addressed that fact that taking 2 steps forward and one back, may be 3 steps in the wrong direction – that is when your steps are not lead by the Spirit.
Calling happens in a moment’s time, and is unique to each person. For some it seems as if they must receive multiple calls from God before they every truly pick up on the other side of the call. Both Paul and Peter hear the call of Jesus to “Follow Me”. Peter hears these words directly (Matt. 4:18-20), while Paul is blinded and told where to go and what to do (Acts 9:6, 22:10). Our Calling is reveals our Blindness – what we once did not see we now are able to see. For Peter, His calling matured over a longer period of time – but he two had his eyes opened (Matthew 16:15-17). Paul we read the story this week – it was a matter of three days and Ananias prayed for his eyes to be opened…
Choosing happens throughout a life time. This is the process of our brokenness and wilderness experiences where we come to know and trust the Lord. Here is where we see Peter as a sprinter and Paul as a marathon runner. Peter often and quickly chooses to sprint off to accomplish a task for the Lord, only to discover it was on his strength and his will that things were pursued. Paul’s choosing is a long obedience in the same direction. In choosing we encounter Brokenness. Paul is told by Jesus how much he will have to suffer, but also what his Commissioning will be. (Acts 9:15-16) Without being totally broken we will not chose the Lord, he has Called and Chosen us – but now we must choose him and “Get Set”… Matthew 22:14 states that “many are called but few are chosen”
Commissioning begins in a moment and culminates in a life time. To be faithful follower of Jesus Christ, we are to be both called (our eyes open) and chosen (our heart set for Christ). (1 Peter2:9, Rev. 17:14) Calling is an act of God of alone, Choosing falls on both, God and us, while Commissioning returns to be an act of God in response to our choosing His will over ours. Since Choosing is a process that never ends, in making the choices that surrender our will to his, our commissioning is clarified which brings God’s Blessing and Favor in our lives. Again to be commissioned is an act of God that takes but a moment, but culminates in a life time. Commissioning is identified in favor, which is grasped only by faith. Faith again is the root of our identity.
Paul is commissioned to reach the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, 22:21), Peter is to establish the foundation of the Church in Jerusalem. (Matt. 16:18, Acts Chapter 1 – 12 show Peter’s Commission, Chapter 13-26 show Paul’s) Our Identity matures as we move from Blindness to Sight revealing our Calling (On your Mark), into Brokenness via Wholeness to Holiness revealing Chosen-ness (Get Set), and into Blessedness and Favor revealing our Commissioning (Go!)
Further thoughts for those with children and forming their identity in Christ:
My wife & I have wondered and worked on encouraging the maturity process for our kids. I remind you that both Calling and Commissioning are an act of God, and Choosing is done between God and the person – so what can we do as parents to assist in the process of forming our children’s identity in Christ. First, (1) Release your children to God. This is a part of your own Brokenness and Choosing as a child of God, which is a must for you to both be a parent in this world, but an eternal brother or sister of your children in the Kingdom. (2) Prayer. Pray for your kids and Pray with your kids and Pray you’re your kids (see below). And finally you must (3) model the journey.
Every morning on the way to school each of our children individually say a motto we have taught them – they began this early as kindergarten and we would say it together… now my middle school says it as he hops out of the car – without being asked…
“I am a child of God, a friend and follower of Jesus and a temple of the Holy Spirit. I will lead, love and listen first, Today” As they say this they are participating in choosing to live into their identity in Christ…
Each night I pray over them and seek God’s blessing for them; I pray…
“Father, I ask that you Bless these boys with wisdom, stature, favor and abundant life in you. That they will come to know you & love you with their heart, mind, soul and strength. Cover us with your blood, for we have been given your righteousness and your holiness, may this lead us to peace and joy as we come into your Kingdom, enjoying your peace & presence, protection and provision. I pray this in Jesus Name – Amen.”
There is purpose behind each of these words, and this prayer has grown over the years, but has remained consistent for the last 5 years… and I am pleased to say that I believe it keeps them healthy, strong, able bodied and doing great is so many aspects of life… as well as keeping me in the state of release and dependence on God for his provision and protection over them.
Finally – we pray and read the scriptures together. We read the weekly lectionary scriptures together each week. We do this only once or twice a week, but we do it before or after dinner. Each child will read a verse or two at a time. We pray before meals as a family, and we pray at night before we go to bed. Each child is asked if they want to pray – they do not have to… if they don’t want to prayer we usually ask them to name one thing and one person they are thankful for and one then they hope for….
Our Default prayer is what I have taught them at the 5 word prayer –
Abba, Hallelujah, Maranatha, Shalom, Hosanna… These five words capture the heart of the Lord’s Prayer – since teaching them this they have all since learned the Lord’s prayer which we pray all-together at least once a week.
There is much more to share – I’m sure there will be another blog….