This week through many different encounters and experiences I’ve been reminded about how essential and difficult it is to follow Jesus and Jesus only. There are so many competing issues and factors that can demand so much of us. Some of them normal and understandable factors, others less so, but the similarity between them is that they often compete to take dominance in our lives to the cost of the Lordship of Christ. Realising that we are hid in Christ and when the Father considers us, He considers His Son has a dramatic effect on issues of identity.
My name is Dryden because my dad is Dryden. Many personal characteristics have been inherited from him and concepts of manhood have been heavily influenced by his manhood. I am my dad’s son and carry that with me wherever I go whether conscious of it or not. I am not a facsimile of my dad, but there can be no denying to whom I belong. Once I am reconciled to the heavenly Father my identity is like that of His Son’s – I am His and He is mine. I can refer to Him as Dad on the understanding that I have personal contact with Him as His son. His characteristics slowly become my own (sometimes too slowly, perhaps), His issues slowly become my own and I find my priorities being done in a manner to be pleasing to Him as my Dad.
Previously before connections with the heavenly Dad I was often conflicted on issues of identity. To be fair even after being hooked up again with God as Father I was still not getting who I am and what it meant to be a child of His. In the confusion I fell into pressure – pressure to live up to people’s expectations of me. What was I meant to do and be as a Christian? What does that look like? Whenever those questions are asked formality is easy to fall into – being a Christian is doing this, wearing this, saying this, acting like this. All nice instructions, but without Spirit and intent it can be lifeless forms of godliness with no power behind it. Worse still it can also lead to judgementality based on that image of Christianity.
In actuality the freedom that the Spirit offers is not one of conforming to such rigid formality, but being transformed by the renewing of the mind to actually fit God’s will for how I’m to be shaped by His Word. That’s why His Son was so controversial, because He never came to reinforce the common concepts of formal worship; rather He came to liberate people to engage with the Father in Spirit and truth. That makes the whole identity issue something that is not so rigid, formal and oppressing. It doesn’t relieve you of personal issues and challenges but all of a sudden where there were pressures and conflicts God genuinely offers peace.
I cannot tell you what a joy it is to approach Sabbath every week (although it’s not the first time I’ve spoken of it and it’s worth having a blast from the past with reading what I said all those years ago). I so long to enjoy the rest offered in it as a window of opportunity to embrace what Jesus invited me to when He called me to follow Him. I love the thought of bathing in my identity not being based on what I do, but what He has done and the promise to be fulfilled in the time to come when this corruptible will put on incorruptible.
Hebrews in establishing the supremacy of Christ above all things past, present and future, especially under pressure to conform to the status quo, highlights the hope we look forward to in the rest. I so love Jesus for reinforcing a time to rest in who He is and to do that in community with other brothers and sisters who share such a hope and joy. I so love Jesus for giving us a time to enjoy that rest in Him through the cessation of everyday work and just reflecting that in our engagement with our community and God’s creation. To me observing the Sabbath is not about legalism, but about liberation and I’m just grateful for it.
For His Name's Sake