By Pastor Rob Bloss
I won’t celebrate the actual day of my birth this year. I may look and feel older, but my birthDAY only comes around every four years. Still another year of my existence on earth gives me reason to pause, reflect, and give thanks.
I spent too many of the first 44 years of my life looking into a Funhouse mirror. Sometimes I appeared bigger and stronger than I really was. Other times smaller and weaker. But rarely did I see me for who I really was.
On January 28, 2008, when I looked into the mirror all I saw was a grotesque, confused, sinful, and sorry excuse of a man. I was 44 years old and in my 18th year of serving as a lead pastor. I had experienced some tremendous highs in my personal and professional life. But looking back my identity was wrapped up in my titles: pastor, father, or husband.
Everything was twisted and distorted by my successes and my failures. I was in a full-blown crisis. I was lost. My life was out of control. I felt like I had or was about to lose everything.
When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t know who I really was. I coped with my pain by performing. I played the hero. I did what was right but not always with the right motives. I didn’t take care of myself while I was caring for everyone else. I was an accident waiting to happen.
In the difficult years that followed and even still today, God keeps bringing me back to Romans 8. It is a mirror that shows me who I really was, and who I really am in Christ!
Two little words, ‘in Christ’. This is Paul’s favorite term for a Christian. 164x in the NT it says we are ‘in Christ’. Your life is found in Christ. Your hope is found in Christ. Your purpose is found in Christ. And if you are in Christ, then your identity is found in Christ.
In Christ we can live…
1. Without Condemnation. (v.1). Because of the cross, because Jesus died there, my sins have already been paid for. And if Jesus paid for my sins, then I don’t need to. This isn’t about you are me - about what we have done or left undone. Self-condemnation is a form of self-righteousness.
2. Without Domination. (vv.2-17). One of the marks of a genuine Christian is freedom – freedom from the penalty and the power of sin and death. It’s a paradox: the more I surrender to His power, His control, and His authority, the more freedom I experience.
3. Without Desperation. (vv.18-27). We suffer, but our suffering pales in comparison to the promises we have in Christ. Christ in us the hope of glory.
4. Without Miscalculation. (vv. 28-30). God never makes mistakes. He is sovereign. God has purpose behind my problems. God works it ALL together. Salvation is the work of God from beginning to end. He makes the first choice that opens the door to our choice.
5. Without Intimidation. (vv. 31,33,34). God not only loves us, God is for us. He is on our side. We can be confident in Christ. In Christ, I’m not a victim. I’m victorious.
6. Without Limitation. (v. 32). He solved our biggest problem. It’s all little stuff after that. If God loves us enough to send His Son to die for us, we can be confident that He loves us enough to take care of the rest of our needs.
7. Without Separation. (vv. 35-39). Day to day security…eternal security. You may let go, but he never does. It doesn’t depend on me. It depends on God. We will fail, we will stumble, we will make mistakes, we will sin… BUT He won’t let go. We can lose fellowship, but we can’t lose relationship. Once a son or daughter, always a son or daughter!
Who do we see in the mirror? Before we make too much of what we see, let’s remember the truth of I Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
We are not who we think we are. We are not who others say we are. We are not the sum total of all we have done or failed to do. In Christ, we are who HE says we are!