7 min. to read.
You have a good and beautiful purpose. Part of the adventure of your life is to discover it.
Instead of pinning on a broken identity you’ve pieced together from scraps, you can discover an identity that will fit you perfectly because it comes from the Master Artist who made you. This sense of purpose will be life giving. It will bring you deep satisfaction even when the circumstances of your life are painful or difficult.
As you live within this sense of purpose, you will find spiritual vitality.
So, how to find it?
So what will my purpose look like?
(In case you were wondering, this is the next installment in my series looking at this way of intentional spiritual living called the 210 Life.)
A reader named Art left a comment asking, “What do you think God’s purpose for you might look like?”
That’s exactly the right question for each of us to be asking, only there isn’t a single answer. Your good and beautiful purpose is going to be a match for you. There will be certain similarities, but the unique calling on your life and mine will be different. Fortunately, the similarities and differences will present themselves as we dig deeper in the chase for this sense of purpose.
In the last post I offered that this purpose can be found at the intersection of three facets of God’s design for you:
- Your Identity in Christ.
- God’s universal design for all of us.
- God’s unique design for you.
Each of these is an area for your exploration. In essence, these are three different places to listen for God’s voice in your life. Each will bring new elements to consider. As you take this pursuit seriously, what you find will help peel away the layers of misunderstanding and false identity that you’ve collected over the course of your life.
Get to know who you are In Christ.
The first facet of your design is your Identity in Christ. This enigmatic phrase from the Apostle Paul refers to how it is that God sees you. The One who made you knows you. Regardless of how you feel or what you’ve done, your identity in Christ is the thing that is truest about you. This is what God says is real about you right now. God has provided this; You get to choose if this reality will have effect in your life.
So what does this Identity in Christ include? The concept shows up nearly 150 times in the New Testament. It is the great driving theme of Paul’s writing. You can get a good overview of the concept in this presentation here.
In just one spot, the 1st chapter of Ephesians, you can find this sampling:
- Verse 3. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Yep. Even in your life where there seems to never be enough, you already have everything you need in Christ.)
- Verse 4. You were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. (Chosen. Before you ever had a chance to perform or be good. Heck, even before you had the chance to decide if you would follow Jesus. Wrap your head around that for a moment!)
- Verse 5. You are favored in the Beloved. (Favored. Jesus is beloved to the Father. You are in Christ. That means you are beloved to the Father. Loved with the very same love the Father has for Jesus.)
- Verse 7. You have redemption in Christ. (Redemption. That’s not just forgiveness that takes away guilt. Redemption buys back and re-purposes. Even your brokenness is given new purpose in Christ!)
- Verse 9. God’s plan for you and the universe was laid out in Christ. (Your life isn’t a mystery to God, and now it doesn’t have to be a mystery to you either.)
- Verse 11. You have already received an inheritance in Christ. (You are included in a new family, and you get a new kind of life, a new authority, a new future because of that!)
Why? Because you already hold a backpack full of beliefs about yourself that are lies. Your heart struggles with value and worth. You feel weighed down by things you’ve done (or didn’t do.)
You believe that if you don’t perform well enough, you won’t be accepted, or loved or included.
Knowing your Identity in Christ means you can set aside any image of yourself that isn’t from the One who made you.
Instead of being defined by what others say, or what you imagine they might say, you can be free all of that.
You can begin to restructure the deeply held beliefs of your soul.
Searching for Christ helps you find yourself.
So how can you learn your Identity in Christ?
1. Start by gathering the data.
There are two places available. First, there’s the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. Read these accounts through over and over. This time, don’t read them to look for teachings or theology, read them to see how Jesus treated people. Jesus said that when we see Him, we are seeing the Father. How Jesus relates to people, is how God relates to you. Start there.
“Understanding your Identity in Christ is the vital starting point for finding your sense of purpose.”
Then there are 150 or so passages about being “in Christ” in the New Testament. Read those through. (Here’s one collection online. There are many others. Searching for “in Christ,” and “In him,” in a Bible search will lead you to others.)
But just having the info won’t make the change. As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.” The other half is what you do with that knowledge. So what do you do?
2. Evaluate your own beliefs against this new information.
How did Jesus see people and treat them? Do you think that God sees you in this way? What do those “in Christ” verses say that God thinks of you? Do you believe that this is true? If you take this process seriously, even journaling through it, it will very quickly surface conflicting beliefs you hold in your heart. Then you’ll have a choice. Do you continue to live your life in alignment with the things you think about yourself, or do you begin to practice living in alignment with the things God says are true of you?
3. Practice, pray and take a flying leap.
Now you have a new kind of freedom. Your heart probably will cling tenaciously to those false, broken beliefs about who you are. (i.e. I don’t deserve grace, I’m not worthy!) But beliefs change as we try new ones on, and begin to live in different ways. (i.e. I am forgivable and not defined by my past!)
Part of the battle of faith is to accept what God says is true of us when our life experience tells us something different. So, practice. Take action. Start living as if God’s beliefs about you are true!
Your good and beautiful purpose will begin to become clearer as you learn how God sees you. There’s more to it, and we’ll go there in future posts, but I can say this: If you never read another blog post of mine, if you never listen to another sermon or read another book, but instead invested your time reflecting on the Gospels and the “In Christ” passages, your spiritual life would be more vibrant and meaningful, and I trust that God would lead you to everything that you could ever need spiritually.
7 thoughts on “Looking for Purpose? Start with your Identity in Christ”
Great post Marc! You are spot on, in my opinion, about the foundational importance of focusing on our identity in Christ. I love what C. Baxter Kruger says – He says that if one were to squeeze the Bible like an accordion, one verse would fall out the bottom. A verse that is of paramount importance to the entirety of what God says about us and to us. What Jesus says in John 14:20 – “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in Me and I am in you”. I love that and am meditating on it continually it seems.
I love that, Roy. John 14:20 really does say it all.
I am definitely sharing this with the young women’s group I help lead… it seems to be one of the biggest questions I hear, and I loved your use of the 1st chapter in Ephesians as a way to build on who we are to God. You just expressed it all so wonderfully. I’ve had days where I have prayed out the first chapter of Eph and made it personal, when I’ve needed to shake doubts about if I matter to Him… and every time I’ve come away with a new sense of His holy presence.
Reminds me of the lyrics to “Redeemed” by Benji Cowart and Big Daddy Weave….
Love your posts Mark!
Thanks, Christine. Ephesians is a vital book for me. So much there about who God is, who we are and how it’s all just really good news. I hope it’s a healing and transforming message for the young women you lead!
Thank you Marc. I am reading (very slowly!) Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning at the moment – and being drawn anew into the wonder of the amazing and unlimited love the Father has for me.
Ahh, I’m so glad you’re reading Manning. Life changing stuff!
Thanks for this. Right on target. I like the confidence and clarity of this, but also the humility. The gentleness.