I identified myself completely with him. Galatians 2:19 (MSG)
Your Identity – The Failure Series – Part 4
I’m not the sum of my failures and successes. I exist beyond them.
“It’s no longer I who lives, (said Paul), but Christ who lives in me.”
I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but I know one thing for sure. You’ve failed, and so have I. And, we will fail again.
(Feel encouraged? haha!).
Failure is guaranteed.
It would be easy for me to write, “failure is part of the process of living, so just sit back, relax, don’t worry about it, learn from it, move on.” I could wave off your sense of failure with a few airy, lovely words.
But that doesn’t fix anything, does it?!
Paul wrote to his friends in Galatia, and said:
“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” (Gal 2:19-20 MSG.)
It’s not that his life wasn’t his anymore. I think too many Christians try to abdicate personal responsibility with this verse.
Your life is yours. You live it. You make your own choices and decisions. You are the one who feels all the feels, who sees with your eyes, who touches with your hands, and speaks with your mouth. It’s all you, my friend.
But it isn’t JUST you.
You don’t have to impress God or please him, for him to come close to you. HE ALREADY DWELLS WITHIN YOU.
This isn’t a “pretty revelation,” or a soppy point in a feel good message.
The Divine is already threaded into your life and spirit. And if he’s threaded through you, he’s threaded through us all. He’s the thing beneath the stuff of our lives (that was technical, wasn’t it). The glue, the fabric, the common denominator.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”
Why is this a radical act? Because to define your worth purely according to the fact of your being, and your being held in the grip of love that created everything, and keeps it all together; flies in the face of what the “world,” or should I say the dominant paradigm, says is your true self and worth.
Your identity is not wrapped up in your success and failure. This is a truth that takes years to live into. And it is LIVED into. It takes some failures, and some successes, and even more failures to begin to understand that your identity is not produced from them. Your identity, or sense of it, carries you THROUGH them.
That’s why Paul could say, “It is no longer I who live…”
It’s no longer all on my back. I‘m part of something bigger, and greater.
“It’s Christ who lives in me.”
And with this truth blooming in our spirits, we can look our failures and mistakes and sins and pains full in the face, and begin to transform through them.
And through the mistakes of others.