Our True Identity (December 2017)

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Advent Sunday on 3rd December starts a new church year, when the church calendar turns full circle.  Advent is a time of looking forward:  looking forward to God’s arrival to live among us, Jesus coming to earth (Christmas).  This is a celebration of God’s work of salvation for the world, moving on to the crucifixion and resurrection, which we recall around Easter.   It is also a time of looking forward to Jesus’ Second Coming, His return to judge the living and the dead at the end of time.  So, through Advent we look back to the ancient people of God, and the foretelling of the coming Messiah, and we also look forward with hope in Advent to God’s kingdom that has been promised to us.

This is of deep personal interest to every one of us.  God’s work of salvation for the world is not only of global importance, it is relevant for every individual human being.  It has importance for who we are, and how we understand the meaning of our lives, of who we are.  People can often be heard saying:  ‘I need to find my true self.’  Or, ‘This is not really me.’  How do we know what God really wants us to be?  Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ (John 10:10).  What is really meant by that? 

As Christians, we believe that God made every one of us.  In Genesis it describes the origin of the human species as follows: ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1:27)  A great deal could be said about what that shows us about God’s purpose for us all – but suffice to say, He made human beings to be like him, and to be in close relationship with Him. 

That is our true identity, the complete fulfilment of what we have been made for.  It all went horribly wrong when mankind disobeyed God in what we call the Fall (all the events in the Garden of Eden, described in Chapter 3 of Genesis).  Since then, none of us have had the proper relationship with God, none of us has lived our lives adequately in the image of God, as was originally intended when we were created.  The inherent sinfulness of humankind is something we are unable to get away from in this world.

It is in order to make that right again, that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, so we could have forgiveness of our sins.  Yet we all know that our inherent sinfulness keeps pulling us astray from what God wants for us.  Perfection will only come, and our true identity is only made complete, when Jesus returns.  That is, when the New Heaven and New Earth are come into being.  That is when we fully become our true selves.  That is when we can totally ‘live life in full abundance’.  That is when our true identities will be wholly known. 

We long for Jesus to return to bring this about.  That is why in Advent we say, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.   

Tina Upton