I have more or less attended church in some sort of fashion for the entirety of my life. My father, grandfather, and many uncles are all pastors. Being in church kind of runs in the family. I originally gave my life to Christ when I was six years old. I don’t remember much of my life before Christ, but I remember knowing my need for Him. With the knowledge that I needed Jesus, I gave my life to Him. This was the very beginning of my understanding of Christ and the of Christian life. However, I had not grasped fully the depth of giving up my entire life. One of the beautiful things about being saved at a young age is being able to watch Christ work in your life when you look back to the place from where you have come. I am sure it is a different look and feel than for those who had a rougher life than I did before Christ, but the result is the same. Because of Christ, I am no longer the same.
However, this did not keep me from struggling with sin. While I never struggled with alcohol or drugs, violence or language, I did struggle with other things. Looking back, I realize now, that deep down throughout my life, I have struggled with my identity. This has shown itself to me in a few different ways. All of my life I have struggled with food, with gluttony, a sin that needs to be killed just as much as any other. The other way it showed was in my struggle with pornography and lust. Now, I can trace both of the roots of those sins back to my identity. Who am I? Where do I belong? I knew I had a biological family who loved me. However, I struggled with the fact that the world did not. I knew that Jesus loved me, but I struggled to believe His love was sufficient and full.
I have always had a large body, and from a young age in school, I was ridiculed for it. I felt ostracized, outcast, like I didn’t really belong. My weight was what defined me. I knew Jesus had saved me, I knew in Him my sins were forgiven, but that was where it ended. These feelings of being demeaned, outcast, and ridiculed for my weight continued through elementary into high school. At this point, food wasn’t enough, and I turned to pornography to numb the pain. This continued through high school and into early college. I still loved Jesus, I knew I had forgiveness, but these were sins in my life that I had not yet killed. All through this time, Jesus was still calling me, the Holy spirit was still pulling at me, moving me towards where I needed to be.
Out of my childhood home and on my own, I was still somewhat involved in church, but I was not overly committed, and I was still struggling with those particular sins. Then, I slowly began to become more involved in church. As I did, I began to study and see that there was more that took place when I gave my life to Christ. I was forgiven, but more than that, I was adopted into a new family. I had a new identity. I didn’t have to be defined by those other things. I had a new identity in Christ. I had heard this before, and I knew it, but it had never really clicked in my life until my early to mid-20’s. The words of 1 Peter 2:9-10 hit me like a ton of bricks. My identity wasn’t found in what I looked like, in girls, or even in how much I was loved by my family. Ultimately, my identity was in who Jesus said I am. And this is what he said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t need those other things to make me whole. Jesus loved me fully and completely, and through His Spirit, He was guiding me every day into a fuller likeness of Himself.
Slowly, but surely, my giving up the entirety of my life to Christ has become more and more complete. It’s not as scary to give up things that feel good to you, things that your flesh says makes you valuable and worthy, when you have your eyes fixed on who you really are. Do I have it all together now, every hour of every day? Absolutely not! (Just ask my wife.) But the journey is more clear now. Killing sin is hard, dying to self is hard. But killing sin, dying to self and living for Jesus is so worth it!
Maybe you have struggled with identity as well. Maybe you feel like you don’t belong. Maybe you feel like you’re not good enough. In Jesus you are! His invitation stands. He lived a sinless life so that he could die on the cross to make a way for you and for me to come back into relationship with Him. He offers this gift of forgiveness freely! Receive it today! And on top of that, join the family! As I said above, if you are in Christ, you are not alone. You belong to a royal family, a holy family, people who belong to God, and it is wonderful!
Maybe you’re like me and feel unworthy because certain sins are hard to kill in your own life. Let me leave you with encouragement from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it! Lean on Jesus today!