Shortly after I finished seminary, I was asked to fill in as the morning speaker at a rural church that I had been attending. The message I brought that morning focused on the life that we have in Jesus Christ. In attendance that morning was middle aged woman who had been a Christian for many years. After the service she remarked that I was an excellent speaker, but that she found my message hard to accept and very defeating. I was dumbfounded at her response. I tried to explain that nothing in the message was intended to be defeating, but was meant to be an encouragement. She remained unconvinced and stated that what I presented in the message was in fact very discouraging. I walked away that morning confused about how someone who could be bothered by the message of encouragement concerning the life we have in Christ.
That incident would haunt me as I went on to pastor a church. I continued to struggle with the fact that someone who had experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ would live her life in spiritual defeat. How could someone take the promises and encouragements of the scriptures and be bothered by them? To my surprise, I would later meet many believers who struggled with this same issue. No amount of teaching could bring them out of the depths of defeat, which resulted in a lack of participation in the health and well-being of the church. With some of these individuals, this actually created problems in the life of the church family as a whole. I have since come to the conclusion that this problem is not unusual among Christians; as I continue to meet people, who even with the evidence of God’s love and acceptance, live in a state of spiritual defeat.
A Common Struggle
In looking at the issue of defeat in the lives of individual Christians, their struggles seem to be completely different. Yet a closer look reveals that each one is struggling with a single root issue, one that is manifested in a different way in each of their lives and circumstances. While the problem is different, each person struggles with their identity or “who they are as a Christian.” For instance, some individuals see themselves based upon a past action. Others base their identity upon the actions of their pastor. Some center their identity on the different positions they hold or how others view them. Political preference is at the heart of the identity crisis in many North American Christians. Still others are defeated by an identity that was thrust upon them by the actions of others.
All of these individuals are struggling with the basis of their identity as believers in Jesus Christ. This perception of themselves may stem from their own actions or the actions of others, but the result in each person is spiritual defeat. They cannot see beyond the level of defeat in which they already exist. It is rather startling when one looks around the church and sees numerous individuals, all of whom are living in a constant state of spiritual defeat. It is even more startling when you realize that the church is often led by a pastor, who struggles with the same spiritual defeat as his congregation. It is a monumental problem in the church today.
In the coming weeks, we are going to look at the issue of what are identity truly is. We are specifically going examined what the scriptures tell us about our identity problem and the solution that Christ achieved for us on the cross.
We would love to know your thoughts, please feel free to comment for the encouragement of others who are on the Journey.
Please note: As we are making the journey together, this blog provides you the opportunity to respond with your thoughts. You can also interact with others who have commented. We encourage you to use this blog as a vehicle for your spiritual growth.