What is most true, most real, most compelling, (and most long-lasting) about your life are not the multiple places of suffering, nor your two-steps-forward, one-step-back battle against particular sins. What is most foundationally true is that you are a beloved child of the Father, a co-heir with Jesus Christ.
I know you are discouraged and distressed this morning. The trials and temptations you’ve faced this past week have brought you low. Suffering clouds your vision. Sin’s hangover—guilt, shame, and doubt—still pounds in your soul. The hardships you face and the failures you recounted to me loom large in your life. They seem to be what is most true, most real, and most compelling about your experience as a Christian right now. I know you have prayed about these things. You are seeking to honor Christ amidst your difficulties, and trying your best to take loving, constructive steps in your contentious relationship. I know you have asked for forgiveness for choosing to give in to desires that took you from God’s good and ancient life-giving path (Jer 6:16). In spite of this, you remain heavy-hearted and downcast. May I help you shift your gaze upward?
You see, what is most true, most real, most compelling, (and most long-lasting) about your life are not the multiple places of suffering, nor your two-steps-forward, one-step-back battle against particular sins. What is most foundationally true is that you are a beloved child of the Father, a co-heir with Jesus Christ. You are a saint! Yes, it’s true! The apostle Paul used this designation for God’s people repeatedly (1 Cor 1:2; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2) and it characterizes the members of Christ’s body throughout the ages. You are a saint who suffers and a saint who sins, but a saint nonetheless. This is ground-zero of the Christian life. It’s your most basic and primary identity. You and I are “in Christ” (a term Paul uses repeatedly to highlight the seismic identity shift that happens when we become Christians). Do you see how intimately connected you are with Jesus Christ even in a week filled with deep disappointment and discouragement?
Just consider some of the truly astounding things God says about his people (including you and me) in Scripture, descriptions that flesh out this God-bestowed designation of saint:
- We are image-bearers of the one and true living God with a noble task to steward the earth for our great Creator-King (Gen 1:26–28)—not rugged individualists scheming to make our own way in a hostile world.