For a season, I helped with a 6th grade girls class at church. We were doing a study about identity in Christ talking a lot around the Easter story. It’s easy to gloss over. We’ve made the felt board tombs and waved the palm branches. We get Easter, right?
But going through the Easter celebration again with these girls brought it back to life.
One night we went through some of the realities of being children of God. Their braces started to show when they thought through the concept of Jesus loving them just as they are. Giggles broke out at the thought of how specially made God designed them and what all He has planned just for them. Ideas about what life will be like after Jesus returns filled the room – Will we teleport? See unicorns? Like food we hated?
and then a middle-school-sized hand went up,
“I don’t know what it means to be me if I’m going to be sinless, because I feel like my sin defines me.”
Girl. Me too.
Five years later, I’m still thinking about this 6th grader’s confession because I need to confess it. I like some of my sin, and I’m scared to let parts of it go.
The truth is sometimes I don’t want to be gentle towards a certain person. Or choose to bring peace instead of engage in an argument. Or seek joy when everything seems to be wrong. Or believe the shame of my past is gone.
Jesus tells us that if we surrender our life to Him, we are born again like a whole new creation. After that, our whole selves are learning to be more like Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Because of Jesus, God already sees His children as sinless even though we’re still dealing with tons of sin in our lives.
God is asking us to believe we are who He says we are – HIS!
The phrase “dying to self” sounds pretty dramatic, but when we die to ourselves, we all at once celebrate the uniqueness God gave us as an individual and hold it out for Him to use. C.S. Lewis dives into this more,
“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange?
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.”
This does sound strange, Clive!
I know I sin. God sees me as sinless already AND helps me to not sin now. He made me like no one else for a reason AND makes me more like Himself. One day I will not sin at all, AND I’ll still retain all my… me-ness.
I struggle to wrap my head or heart around it, but what I do know is to be a follower of Christ is to trust that God knows best and has my best interest at heart. I can trust that I’m finding myself in Him.
So, there are two ditches on each side of this good news Jesus offers us. I can use how God already sees me to justify when I act poorly, or I can work really hard to do everything right and prove to myself and others that I’m a follower of Jesus.
The beauty of the Gospel is God just wants us. We didn’t earn it and there’s nothing to prove – that’s why we need Jesus. Take a breath. We can learn to live right now in freedom and joy with this new identity!
So when I or anybody else asks, “Who am I without my sin?” what can I say? Even with all of my pride and failures right now, and as I look forward to an eternity without them, I can answer:
“I am a child of God.”