This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching the first message on our new series Your Identity in Christ. In this current season of a pandemic, social unrest, and economic disruption, being reminded of who we are and who we serve matters more than ever.
The message I shared was a “back to basics” teaching on Isaiah 61 with the back half of verse 3 as the focal point.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
This phrase provides a simple framework for WHO you are, WHOSE you are, and WHY you exist. Your identity. We broke it down like this:
WHO you are: Oaks of Righteousness
It may seem strange to be compared to a tree, but trees do two things in our ecosystem that make them indispensable:
- They consume carbon dioxide
- They produce oxygen
Two simple things that shape the very air we breathe. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange. That same large tree can provide a day’s worth of oxygen for up to four people. So to summarize, a tree does this:
Removes from the atmosphere what kills us
Adds to the atmosphere what gives us life
I can’t think of a better description for a follower of Jesus. Being an oak of righteousness is, in part, about being someone who helps remove the stuff that is killing people (shame, guilt, pain etc.) and bringing life giving hope, peace, healing and joy to them. You carry Jesus and Jesus is the giver of life!
WHOSE you are: A planting of the Lord
You are first and foremost His work – His tree – His planting.
The invitation is to be rooted and grounded in the character and nature of God. Too many of us know about God, but don’t really KNOW God.
A.W. Tozer in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, says “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
The deeper you go into the character and nature of God, the more sturdy, secure and life giving you can become.
You become that person who isn’t blown over by crisis. Confident and secure in Whose you are and in the fact that despite the challenges and pain, He has you and He is still in control.Do you turn towards God and wrestle with the pain and the questions, or do you shut down and turn away, using something else to drown out the pain?
Your development and growth is directly tied to you being in the Word. Yes you can listen to preachers, worship in community, and learn from others, but you have to dig in and wrestle for yourself. You have to be in the presence of God. Alone. Honest. Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you as He promised He would.You are a planting of the Lord. That is Whose you are.
WHY you exist: For the display of His splendor
Throughout the 50 Days of Love series Gaylord and Andrew walked us through the command of Christ – to love one another. To bring the message of the endless love of God to a hurting world in need of it. To places of devastation and ruin. To lives that have been destroyed in any number of ways. To people living in shame and condemnation.
You can only do that when your identity is rooted and grounded in the love of God. He heals you, sets you free, and then you get to bring that healing and freedom to others. You get to bring life and hope and restoration. To bind up wounds and heal the broken hearted.
In short, you get to be Jesus with skin on. This is why you exist. To put God on display and show who He is to a watching world.
You and I exist to bring Him glory – that is the core of our identity. This incredible freedom to shine a light on the Creator, the Gardener who planted you so you could bear good fruit.
If you’re not sure what the fruit is, or what God’s glory looks like, a simple description can be found Galatians 5:22. Paul describes the fruit of a good tree as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
Those characteristics show off the glory of God and reflect a person who knows who they are, whose they are, and why they exist.
This week as you go about your days, remember WHO you are and WHOSE you are.
If you missed the sermon on Isaiah 61, click here to listen to the podcast or watch the video.