Are you a victim of identity theft?

A well-dressed businessman was standing in line at the airport check-in counter. He, along with the others in line ahead of him, became quite concerned as they watched the door to the jetway close. When he realized what was happening and that the gate agent was going to have to rebook some of the people on a different flight, the businessman jumped out of line to take matters into his own hands. “Excuse me, Miss, but I need to get on this flight!” he said with more than a little urgency.

The woman replied, “Yes, sir, so do the rest of these people who are in line in front of you. Now kindly take your place back in line and we’ll help you when it’s your turn.”

Well, he didn’t like this at all, so he thought being a little more forceful might help his cause. He said, “You see, if I don’t get on that flight, I’m going to miss my meeting. And if I miss my meeting, I’m going to be very angry with you.”

The agent calmly replied, “Sir, we’ll help you when it’s your turn.”

The man, a prominent, wealthy and well-known businessman, had enough. He glared at the woman and growled, “Do you know who I am?!?”

Also having had enough, the agent picked up the microphone and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. This gentleman at the desk does not seem to know who he is. If anyone can identify him, we would all greatly appreciate your assistance.”

Mr. Highfalutin Businessman huffed and puffed his way to his place in the back of the line.

Do you know who you really are?

I constantly see evidence that the average Christian is a victim of spiritual identity theft. That is, the average Christian has no biblical and meaningful understanding of who they really are in Christ. As Cadre missionaries, we’re out much of the year training volunteers to love and serve God effectively. (It’s our Ephesians 4:11-12 obsession.) During our training, we’ll often ask a room full of volunteers, “How many of you are full-time ministers?” Usually one or two volunteers raise their hands. Think about it. The overwhelming majority of volunteers have embraced a very unbiblical view of themselves, and honestly see themselves as “just volunteers.”

Let me clarify: I understand that most of us will never make our living as full-time ministers, but don’t miss my point: According to the Bible, if you’re a Christian, you really are a full-time minister, regardless of where you work or what you do for a living.

This “full-time-minister” identity is true for ALL followers of Jesus Christ: stay-at-home moms, students, factory laborers, entrepreneurs, educators, administrators, CEOs, sanitation workers, retirees, etc. Yes, I’m talking to YOU. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, YOU are a full-time minister.

I know what you’re thinking. When you hear someone say that a “regular” person like you is a full-time minister, you immediately start listing all the objections why that can’t possibly be true. That’s precisely why I want to take the ax of God’s Word and chop as hard as I can at the most common objections that keep volunteers like you from stepping into their biblical identity as full-time ministers. After all, the Christian life is the process of becoming who God says we are already.

A missionary disguised as a handyman

I ran into him at an office supply store where I was buying a calendar for the new year.

As soon as I saw him, my heart lifted. I know him to be a friend and supporter of missionaries…including me. I also know him to be one of the best handymen in the business. He’s been to my house many times to make up for my domestic incompetence… and usually makes sure I don’t pay too much. I love this guy. I’ve broken bread with him in his home. He’s special to me.

“Hey man, it’s great to see you!” I said as I unashamedly hugged this bearded 50-something year-old man right in front of the store clerk. “What are you doing?”

“Getting my life for together for the new year,” he said, smiling holding up a calendar.

“Me too, though I’m not so confident about getting my life together anytime soon,” I said with a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face… joking…but not really. “I just talked to Stacy about having you help me with my honey-do list for the year,” I said hopefully.

He said, “I’d be glad to help you with that list. But check this out. I’m not going to do the handyman thing much longer. I just don’t have enough time and energy to do all that needs to be done to do the business side of it by myself.”

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“So what are you going to do?” I asked, starting to feel slightly alarmed at the possibility of not having his help with my honey-do list.

“Well, you know I’m in a small group with [names a prominent and respected Christian man in the business]. He offered to hire me at a very wonderful salary… and I could do what I’m basically doing right now without all the headaches of the business side of things.”

I said, “Hey, that’s great. So that’s what you’re going to do then?

“Well, no. I prayed about it and I sensed God wanted me to join a couple of other guys. These two guys are real close to beginning a relationship with God… but they’re not quite there yet.”

I gently slapped him on the left arm and said, “Wow, I can’t think of a better guy to help them on their journey. Are you getting a similar deal with these guys?”

“Yes and no. Yes to doing what I do best without having the headaches of the business stuff. No to the really wonderful salary part.” Then he paused, looked me square in the eyes and said with humility and conviction, “I just think this is something God wants me to do…and we both know this whole journey isn’t about money.”

A man on a mission…a mission from God

Wow. Here I am in an office supple store, minding my own business, and God shows up. I knew the words were coming from my friend, but my spirit sensed I was hearing directly from the very heart of God (Luke 15). This guy is not just a highly skilled handyman who is at the beck and call of the highest bidder.

He’s a missionary disguised as a handyman.

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s a nice story, Allison. But what does it have to do with me?”

Everything. But probably nothing. And that’s precisely the problem.

So much more than a handyman

Think about it. Are you living to just make a living…or are you living to make disciples? You were created for so much more than to just make a living (Eph. 2:10). You are so much more than what you do for a living. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a man or woman on a mission…a mission given to you by God (Matt. 28:19). So I dare you to embrace your biblical identity as a missionary.

Here’s your first step! Fill in the blank:

“I’m a missionary disguised as a _________________________.”

If you really want to move from living to just make a living to living to make disciples, like my handyman/missionary friend in the story above…

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Why our identity matters

[This post is part of our Spiritual Caffeine collection, geared toward encouraging students to grow as disciplemakers.]

I used to be a janitor at a local high school. One night when I was emptying the feminine hygiene boxes in the girls’ bathroom, I came across the wrappings of someone’s lunch: orange juice, container of raspberries, foil wrapper from a sandwich. Seeing this, I stopped and prayed. I also found myself asking: “What would cause someone to hide in the restroom and eat a meal?”

Identity: A look back to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt

God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their descendants were now slaves in Egypt, and God was about to free them in a miraculous way. God speaks to Moses and gives him a message for His people:

“I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.” Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor. (Exodus 6:9)

A promise

Do you see the statement “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God”? God is promising his people that their identity will be anchored to his character—in his identity. Verse nine, however, tells us that they were so broken and with so little hope, they couldn’t even imagine their identity being attached to God himself. But he does it. God is faithful to his promise. He gives these Egyptian slaves a new identity. They are now the people of God.

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Forgetting who they are

Fast forward to the golden calf. It’s a bone-headed move. The Israelites have quickly forgotten the God who loves them and have run into the arms of something else. God has delivered his people, just like he had promised. He is even going to keep his promise of giving them the land of Canaan. But, he tells Moses, “I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.” (Ex. 33:3) Remember the promise… “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” This is too much for Moses to bear. The promise of God’s presence is more precious than anything else. Having an identity that is anchored in the character of God is too important.

“Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me – on me and on your people – if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. (Ex. 33:15-16)

Finding out who we really are

Just like it was for Moses and the Israelites in the desert of Sinai, God’s presence is what gives us our identity. Our identity is found in the immovable unchangeable character of Christ and the forgiveness he gives. That identity gives us hope when we find ourselves in broken in spirit.

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It is in the deliverance, freedom, and redemption of Christ that we find our identity—our hope. In the midst of pressure and pain, that hope—that identity will not disappoint. It is anchored in the love of God and sealed with is presence—the Holy Spirit.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:4-5)

That night standing in a bathroom stall, my prayer was for hope. I was asking God to help this young woman discover the hope of an identity anchored in the forgiveness of Christ.

My prayer today is for your identity too:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

God, help us to embrace the hope found in an identity anchored with you and then overflows with hope in all circumstances.