Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
Who are we? Really? What makes us the people we are? Are we the products of our upbringings, the culture around us as we grew up, our social status, our appearance, our wealth (or lack of same) or our success in life? Is our identity bound up with our circumstances, and things we have no control over, or is it something we create for ourselves? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer to this question of what makes us who we are. Often, we’re not sure ourselves. Sometimes we let the opinions of others colour how we see ourselves, and unkind words and gossip have destroyed many a person’s sense of worth (even, tragically, within the church).
The secular world will tell you that your identity lies in what you own, what you achieve, what you do. The Gospel tells you that your identity, if you’ve given your life to Christ, lies in your status as a child of God, and your salvation is no achievement of yours, but purely a gift, given in grace, by God. When you become a new creation, as Paul puts it, your new identity begins to form and your God-given gifts and graces begin to be channeled into His service.
That’s how it’s meant to work anyway. However sometimes we hold back. Sometimes we judge ourselves (or allow ourselves to be judged) by the false standards of the world, and sometimes we assume God’s role as judge ourselves, and condemn others, without offering them the grace and forbearance that God has shown to us. There is no place for any of this in the Kingdom of God, where all are equal recipients of God’s grace and none are there by their own merits. When people become Christians, they start with a clean slate, and what they have been doesn’t matter, and what they can become, through God’s transforming spirit becomes an exciting possibility. They still struggle sometimes with the ‘old Adam’, but nonetheless they are held in the hand of gracious God whose spirit guides and directs through all the vicissitudes of life. This is our story, this is our song, and this is something to celebrate. Amen!