Knowing my identity in Christ has truly freed me to see others as they are in Christ. I can look at them and say, “You know what? You are not the sum of what you’ve done. You’re the sum of what He says about you.” I can look at people in the midst of their dark, filthy sin and see them as chosen by God before this moment. When you’re in deep despair and when you’re in dark sin, I can still see that God loves you and chooses you. You are His masterpiece.
The only reason I’m free to see you, my husband, and my children like that is because I know that’s how God sees me. If He sees me like that, He has to see you like that. The Scripture says that He is no respecter of persons. One person doesn’t get to have that identity while all the others don’t. That’s not the case. He shows no favoritism. There’s no favoritism in the Kingdom of God.
You see, the world labels us. They define us based on the things we do, how we act, or the talents and gifts we have. They will put labels on us. They will claim us and name us all day long. There’s a movement—a faith movement—called “Name It and Claim It.” Yet, that’s exactly what the world does. They name it, and they claim it. They claim darkness over you. They claim death over you. They speak things over you like, “You’re a failure. You’re a loser. These are your weaknesses. You need to find something else to do for your career because you’re not all of that and a bag of chips. You are not as special as you think you are.”
Even in church, we tell people, “You’re too weak to do this job. You’re not called to do this job. You’re not equipped to do this job.” Yet, on the other hand, we say, “God qualifies the called. God is your strength in your weaknesses.” How can we say that but still turn people down every day because of how they are right now in their flesh?
We need to stop doing that. We need to build people up in the truth. The more they know who they are, the more God’s strength will fill their weaknesses. It will take them from a 50 to a 100, from a zero to a hero. God’s strength takes their failure and makes them a success. His strength takes a pauper and makes him a king. Out of the ashes, He makes beauty. God’s love takes people who are unloving and makes them loving. God’s love teaches us how to love the unlovable.
God’s love changes people. When you love people who are failing every day, it changes them. God’s love changes people who offend you. When you’re offended, you can’t love others. But when you know who you are in Christ, you’re not somebody who takes offense. You know that the love in you is a 1 Corinthians 13 love—a love that doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. It’s a love that doesn’t write down, “These are your failures and weaknesses.”
If we have God’s kind of love in us, we shouldn’t even be able to tell other people what they’re doing wrong. In Isaiah 43:18–19, we read, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (NIV). A minute ago is already in the past. It’s finished. When you know who you are in Christ, you forget the past. You forget what happened a minute ago. You have new grace and mercy for this person you thought was a failure. You see people as God sees them. They are a masterpiece in Christ Jesus.
That is seeing with God goggles. God intends for us to love others the way He loves us. We read in the first verse of 3 John, “To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth” (NIV). In the first verse of 2 John, he says, “To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth” (NIV). The point is that he’s not loving them based on what they do, what they’ve done, or who they are; he’s loving them based on the truth. Through God’s eyes, he can love them fully. You lack nothing in the eyes of God. You are the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus, and that's how we need to see each other. I don’t care what you just did; I see you as righteous. That is loving with God’s heart.
I’m sure you’re guilty, just as I am. You’ve caught people in their sin, and you’ve labeled them. Maybe you’ve caught someone in failure, so you won’t trust that person with responsibilities in the future.
I think you see this happen with Mark, Paul, and Barnabas in Acts 15. Paul didn’t trust Mark to go with them based on a past experience with him. He decided to separate himself from Barnabas and Mark. Yet Jesus (in John 17) prayed for the body of Christ to be one vessel—to be unified. There is no unity apart from seeing each other’s true identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are aliens to this world. We are all in the same Kingdom. We are all seated at the right hand of the Father with Jesus Christ.
The truth is, I can’t have unity with my brothers and sisters if I’m labeling them because of their circumstances and behavior. I’m choosing to say, “They’re not called or qualified. They’re not able. They’ll never get there. This isn’t the right place for them. They’re not in the right seat on the bus.” When I do that, I’m keeping a record of wrongs. Churches give reviews and tell people how they’re doing. I think their report should always be: “You’re a masterpiece—chosen, holy, and blameless. God is your strength in the midst of your weaknesses.”
Yes, we could all improve on things—but we are human beings, not human doings. God called us to exist in Him and to know Him. The more we know Him and the more we seek Him, the more He will develop all our gifts. If we have a lack in our abilities, then we need to go back to the One who gives us the ability. The truth is that we’re supposed to be seeking all of His gifts continually. The call of God is irrevocable, so if you understand that people are not walking in the fullness of their identity, you should call them to step into their true identity and seek God for all the gifts. In the areas you’re lacking something, God can make you able.
We can’t preach from the pulpit that God equips the called and then tell people they don’t have the equipment to do something. There’s a problem there. If we don’t have certain equipment, then we need to go back to the Lord and find out what we need to do differently.