Stretching for Identity: Part 1

If there is one thing I have consistently been in 45 years, it is Type A. While that can help get things done in an orderly fashion, I've learned it can actually keep things from getting done in the spiritual places. The rigidity of type-A control sometimes creates boundaries to what the Lord may want to do, so it is an area He has been working on with me for, well, a long time.

This past June, I had a message prepared for WOW, and my Type A part believes in teaching the entire message. Especially since it was a message based on the word STRETCH. How odd would it be to only go as far as S-T-R-E? Not so odd, as it turns out. I knew once worship started that there was a message God wanted to deliver, and it ended about half way through my notes. So throwing organization to the wind, I went with Jesus. And it was awesome.

In the next three blogs, I am going to recap the message, and for those of you out there who may have occasionally wondered what the rest of the teaching my have been, round that out.

Identity Matters

We will never advance as Christians beyond our point of identity in Christ. As long as we continue to cultivate a Christ-like identity, we continue to mature as believers, which is what we -- and those around us -- need. Who we believe ourselves to be internally shapes what we experience externally. How? Our inner beliefs produce reflective attitudes on the outside, creating an environment around us which either works towards the will ofGod for us or away from the will of God for us. 

Our beliefs about ourselves and who we are in Christ get sifted the most during periods of stretching. Matthew 7:13-14 says, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." We often transition from one place of belief to the next in narrow, tight corridors with our backs against the wall, stretching towards the next gate of breakthrough. So it is frequently worth asking ourselves the question, "What is my inner belief?"

Romans 8:14-17 says, "For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." In other words, if you are a born-again Christian, you are no longer a slave to fear, but an heir of God. In my own experience, and in ministry with women, what I often find are blood-bought Christian women with the belief they are a slave girl. Slaves to fear of others, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of not having enough, being enough, doing enough. Fear.

When we see ourselves as slaves -- whether that is how we have identified the bondage or not -- we also consider ourselves held captive to our fears and the worst outcomes they could wreak. The end result is a mentality that says, "I'm a victim" rather than the rally cry of one who knows they are a co-heir with Christ. 

On the other hand, as we cultivate inner identities which line up with who God says we are in Christ, then no matter what situations come up against us, we will respond as children who know their "Abba, Father" has provided what we need to overcome, and we can live in the blessing of peace as we walk out our victory. When we know who we are, it shifts our perspective from that of a slave girl who can only make demands, to an heir who draws on a wealth of supply.

We have promises and visions of what God wants to do in our lives (exciting!), and then we also have the periods after the revelations/promises/Words from God where we have to press in and STRETCH towards the vision. This period is the work of obedience to believe. Believing God is who He says he is, that Jesus has done what He says He has done, that we are who He says we are, and can do what He says we can do. 

What are things for us to consider as we stretch? Next time, we will look at the S-T-R-E in stretch. Stay tuned!

For Reflection

How would you answer the question, "Are you a slave girl or a joint heir to the throne of God?"

How do your experiences, the environment around you, support your answer?

What is one area of wrong belief about yourself that you can commit to believe God for transformation?

What are some practical ways you can begin to co-labor with Christ to see that belief changed to line up with how He sees you?