Learning that Christ indwells those who accept Him as their Savior was a life-altering revelation for me. I was eager to give up the false doctrine that the Holy Spirit is easily offended and flees at the slightest provocation, leaving us alone during the times we need Him most. It’s comforting to know He calls me friend. That is an identity I’m happy to claim!
As humans, we are categorized and labeled in many ways. There are boxes to check on intake forms and applications regarding our gender, ethnicity, marital status, medical conditions, professions, and more. We tend to describe others by their looks, personality traits, and relationships to us. And for good or bad, we tend to label ourselves. Labels serve a purpose, but they’re not always accurate or permanent.
When people are hospitalized for whatever reason, illness or accident, they are referred to as patients. When healing has taken place and they are discharged, their status as a patient ends. When someone is missing, we cease to refer to them as lost once they are located. If someone is deaf, but has hearing restored through surgery or an implant, deafness no longer defines them. If someone is blind, but then regains vision, we can no longer refer to them as blind. Injuries can leave people temporarily lame, but when the injury heals, lameness ends. When Christ healed those with leprosy, they were no longer lepers. In all these incidents, their labels changed and so did their identity.
This has me wondering…If Christ is the Great Physician and we are healed with His stripes, why do Christians continue to refer to themselves as broken? And if Christ covers us with His robes of righteousness and redeems us, why continue to self-identify as a sinner? If we have been made new in our relationship with Christ, why hold onto the labels from our old life? Do we not believe Him when He says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17)
As evidenced by the language we use, it seems that we have a tendency to cling to the old rather than embrace the new…in spite of our claim to do otherwise. We hang on to our old identifiers with tenacity, rather than adopt the new ones we receive through Christ.
Sometimes we give ourselves and others labels that are outdated or inaccurate. And engaging in a behavior or activity from time to time does not mean we have a right to a title that is not ours to claim.
I’ve tended to my children in times of illness, and dressed their wounds many times throughout their childhood. That doesn’t make a doctor. On occasion, I’ve had to defend myself against false allegations, but that doesn’t make me a lawyer. Sometimes I toss a ball around with my grandchildren, but I am by no means an athlete!
Our self-talk and the way we think about ourselves influences behavior. As Christians, wouldn’t it be prudent to re-evaluate the language we use, especially concerning our identity in Christ? Do we sing the song of the redeemed or hold onto our status of sinner? Do we rejoice in our wholeness with God or cling to our brokenness?
I know, by personal experience, how difficult it is to change lifelong belief systems. Healing and changing are processes. Transformation is a journey rather than a single event. But maybe it’s one that starts with our vocabulary. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how we view ourselves.
I was a victim; now I’m a survivor.
I was a sinner; now I’m redeemed.
I was broken; now I’m whole.
I was lost; now I’m found.
I was blind; now I see.
Thanks be to God for making you and me flawless!