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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Church and My Identity

This quote is somewhat related to Ryan's post about community. As humans, we inevitably find our identity - to one degree or another - in some form of community. This is what Ed Welch, in his book Addictions, says about how the church helps to shape our identity. (Remember that he's talking about addictions, so here he's explaining how "Being Part of the Body" is a key to change.)

Why make a big deal out of the primacy of the church? Why not go it alone or be helped by other addicts, whether they are believers or not? As is true with all theology, if we neglect what Scripture says about the church, there will eventually be bad fruit. Your chosen instrument of change, whether it is yourself, a Twelve Step program, or the church, will have a significant impact on how you see yourself and how you understand the process of change.

The church changes our identity. Notice the difference between "I'm Jim. I'm an alcoholic' and 'I'm Jim. I am part of the body of Christ. I am part of 'a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God' (1 Peter 2:9)."

For those who have put their faith in Christ, it is Christ himself who unites us and defines us -- not race, financial status, hobbies, interests, or particular problems. Our family -- those closest to us -- are those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. When our core identity is "alcoholic," "drug addict," or "sex addict," we are saying that our problem defines us, and our church consists of the people who share that particular problem.


At 7:38 AM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Karyn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:55 AM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Christian said...

I think this is a great quote.

I don't see how saying "I'm Jim. I'm a member of the body of Christ..." in any way implies that we're NOT sinners; instead, it plaecs a little more emphasis (in a very Pauline way), on who we are becoming, on what we are meant to be. And that context makes Christian community very unique.

At 8:11 AM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Karyn said...

sorry, Christian, I thought I deleted my post before anyone commented a reply. So, I guess I need to put a little context.

I think what I wanted to say is really a discussion, not a comment and so what I orignally wrote could easily be misunderstood out of context. Hence, I took it off.

I also need to remember that I'm supposed to be studying Greek not surfing blogs! So, back to the books.

At 9:41 AM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Bravo! How important a concept this is for us! I remember reading a chapter a year or two ago that spoke on exactly this issue (but I can't remember which book it was, either "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" or "When People are Big and God is Small").
I think that when we deny or forget to always identify ourselves with the Church body as part of the Bride of Christ, we ultimately forsake the Gospel and reduce the work of Christ to nothing. I agree strongly with Christian, that to claim this identy in no way implies that we are not sinners (anyone in the world can see otherwise), but it pronounces to the world the grace, mercy, and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I think this is important, because, for our own individual health, it takes a greater faith, and a BIG Gospel to maintain this identy 24/7 in our own hearts and mind; but also, the health of the Church depends on us identifying our brothers and sisters the same way and not according to their past history.

At 10:08 AM, January 13, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

Speaking of the church and our identity... have you had a chance to glance at Barna's new book called "Revolution"???? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts - perhaps you could launch a post here on that book?? (Hey, just a suggestion - I'm just another blogger out there, ya know...)


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