Identity & Relationships
Text: Ephesians 1-4 | Listen to Message
If I am who God says I am, then other people are who God says they are. But we don’t tend to see people as God sees them, do we?
Our relationships are often characterized by seeing the worst in others – even exaggerating or inventing new faults to be upset or feel self-righteous about. We want to believe that our identity is found in Christ, but other people? Nah, they’re measured by a different standard. They’re defined by their successes and failures. And when they’re failing bad, we can’t wait to let them know!
So what would it look like to treat others as God does?
The Bible indicates that nonbelievers are made in the image of God, yet spiritually dead in their sin, yet redeemable. Each of those three statements matter.
If the unsaved (which we all were at some point) are fashioned in the image of God, that means they possess qualities like intelligence, creativity, and humor. They are capable of tremendous love, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and morality. Instead of always looking to correct or “fix” non-Christians, we should be looking for opportunities to affirm and celebrate the places where they reflect God’s nature – and then build on that. And we should partner with them, where possible, to seek the common good.
But the unsaved are also dead in their sins. We should not expect them to act like Christians when they don’t have a renewed nature. This has tremendous implications for how we welcome them into our lives and into our churches, and cautions us not to make cultural/superficial Christians, but to make true followers of Jesus. We must acknowledge that the issue preventing them from treasuring Christ is not that they just don’t realize how relevant, fun, and clever Christians are. They need to hear the message of the Gospel, which literally contains resurrection power.
Yet the unsaved are redeemable. “Such were some of you,” Paul writes. You used to be idolaters and immoral; you used to live for yourself. What makes you think someone else can’t be saved? And since we don’t know who God will save, we must sow the seed of Good News to everyone.
What about how we view other Christians?
If God views us as positionally righteous and unconditionally loved, why do we treat one another with such dismissive contempt? Why are we so quick to take offense but so slow to forgive and reconcile? Why do we judge other believers behind their backs, criticize their flaws, and gossip to other people? Why do we move from church to church, running from and defriending the very people God loves?
If we really saw other believers the way God does, we’d still have friction in our relationships but we’d handle it differently. Perhaps we’d think more like this:
“You sinned against me and I’m really hurt. But I believe you are justified and declared righteous in Christ. So I’m going to pursue forgiveness and restoration, so that your experience matches what God says is objectively true about who you are.”
How do you need to see others as God sees them today? And what difference would that make in your everyday life?