Choosing Substance: Identity (Day 4)

Advent 4b identity

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 39 niv

A person of substance recognizes the all-too-often pull toward an identity crisis. She sees her insecurities deep and is truthful about them. Those who choose substance — especially at Christmastime — are not defined by what they own.

She was made in God’s image, so she unashamedly craves beauty. But tangible blessings and temporary pleasures don’t give her meaningShe’s brave enough to hold her physical pleasures with open hands, for they were not hers to begin with.

As simple as this all sounds, it’s easier sometimes to have an eternal perspective or sit in our sadness than to keep our head in the game when others admire our physical blessings — our homes, our cars, our fashion sense, you fill in the blank.

We have this broken way of seeing others’ worth based on what they can accumulate in this world. We have this broken way of seeing ourselves. We mask it by an admiration of hard work or an artistic eye, but do you ever live to impress those you’ll never talk to? Or crave approval from value systems shallow? Does honesty uncover a striving to impress those you’ve never even met?

A person of substance — she finds her identity in what Christ did for her on the cross. 

We rank ourselves high, and we rank ourselves low, but might we carry that insecurity back to Christ this season and throw our feelings of unworthiness in the shadow of the Cross?

Absolutely nothing will separate us from the love of Christ — our shallow longings, our tendency to forget, our lack of perspective, our materialism — nothing will separate us from the love of Christ and the identity His work on the Cross gives us.

And a radical miracle unfolds as I understand, again and again, who I am in Christ. As I recognize my brokenness vast and see an even bigger cross, restoration occurs even within my human relationships. Only through the lens of my own brokenness can I view others with grace. Only as I cling to the cross can I respect people simply because they, too, were made in God’s image… simply because His sacrifice saves them, too. Period.

Just a few decades after Christ, Paul wrote to the people of Colossae: Since you have been raised with the Anointed One, the Liberating King, set your mind on heaven above. The Anointed is there, seated at God’s right hand. Stay focused on what’s above, not on earthly things, because your old life is dead and gone. Colossians 3:1-3

We stand in a desperate mess. Go deep this Christmas in your relationships. There’s a heart underneath every amazing outfit. There’s a story of brokenness hungering for redemption in every home.

On the fourth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me discernment to navigate the culture of today… the grace to love others well… the discipline to stop comparing.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Choosing Substance

  • What shallow longings are nagging you this advent season?
  • Reflect on your patterns. What triggers you into material insecurity? Who are you influenced by?
  • Read Colossians 3:1-3 and verses 12-15, too.
  • Who do you need to see through the eyes of Christ this Christmas?

photo source | Prodigal Pottery

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