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The Christian’s Core Identity

Happy Monday!

I hope you’re off to a great week. This week is a big week in my family. My mom’s birthday is today; So, Happy Birthday to my mama! I know… She has 8 children. But, each of us refers to her as “my mama.” (smile)

I was inspired by the sermon that Jim Wood, senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk, preached yesterday. The focus of his message was that Christians are called to a core identity of being “In Christ.”

Building on Jesus’ teachings in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 8:27-38; Mark 9:30-37; 42-50; and Mark 10:32-45), Rev. Jim explained that being “In Christ” means that we must die to our so-called status and agenda and become like servants to all.

Regardless of denominational or tradition affiliation, what’s important is not if I am baptist, methodist, pentecostal, presbyterian, etc.

What’s important is if we are truly “In Christ!”

In such a self-centered and selfish society a lesson about selflessness falls on deaf ears more times that it should.

Probably because we just don’t get it!

20th century theological educator Reinhold Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Societyhe goes so far to say that we have become blinded by our “predatory self-interest.”

Jim’s sermon brings hope to a self-centered society. he explained that dying to Christ means “denying self, losing self, and forfeiting self;” but, not in a gnostic sort of way as in self-torture.

Indeed, we must take care of ourselves; but not for ourselves.

In The Cost of Discipleship, 20th century German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains the same lesson this way:

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.

We cannot truly serve God and His work in the world until we are truly OUT of self and IN Christ.

Let’s ponder this question: “Am I into my self? Or, am I into Christ? If I am into myself, I serve myself. If I am into Christ, I serve Christ. This means that I am willing to deny myself for Christ’s sake, lose myself in Christ, and forfeit my will to serve Christ and Christ’s agenda in the world.

What eternal joy and great privilege to serve the Lord!


Dr. Antipas

Image: Jan Tielens

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2017

About the Author: Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pastor at The Potter’s House of Dallas, TX, and the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the Criminal Justice System Director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and president of the Global Institute for Empowerment & Leadership Development, known as GIELD. He has additional experience as an educator, academic lecturer, itinerant preacher, pastor, youth director, motivational speaker, and Christian musician. He is the author of Is Christianity the White Man's Religion?: How the Bible Is Good News for People of Color (IVP, 2020), The Holy Spirit and Social Justice: Scripture and Theology (2019), Holy Spirit, Holy Living: A Practical Theology of Holiness for Twenty-first Century Churches (Wipf & Stock, 2013) and Unstoppable Success: 7 Ways to Flourish in Your Boundless Potential (High Bridge Books, 2014). | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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