We’ve already considered how one’s location impacts one’s faith, and the blessings and challenges of living out our faith in Christ in Naperville. In the next two posts we’ll think about how pursuing our identity in Christ and keeping our eyes on the glory of the eternal city can help us as we seek to live faithfully for Christ in Naperville.
First, let’s consider how we might find our identity firmly rooted in Christ.
PURSUING OUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST
A Christian is a person who has been brought from spiritual death (Col 2:23-27) to spiritual life (Col 3:1-4). Jesus saved us by His grace (Eph 2:8-9), and now we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), brought into the family of God (John 1:13-14), part of God’s kingdom (Col 1:13-14), given a mission (Matt 28:18-20), and called to do good works (Eph 2:10). Our task as Christians is to live out this new identity here in this “present age” (Titus 2:11-14), and put off the ways of our former life (Col 3:5-11) and put on the ways of our new life in Christ (Col 3:12-4:1).
The answer to the challenge of living out our faith in Christ in Naperville is not moving away, but digging deeper into our new identity in Christ. If we simply flee the culture, we’ll end up in another culture that has its own unique challenges to our faith. Even if we flee to a “Christian” culture (like somewhere in Alabama!), there are different challenges to living out our faith in Christ (like thinking ‘just because a person attends a Christian school or lives in a town where everyone goes to church that they are a Christian,’). Every culture on this side of heaven has elements to it that are not completely and 100% in line with the Scripture. As Christians, we must consider the ways our cultural and regional settings will impact our faith, and seek by God’s strength and Spirit to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt 10:16).
We pursue our identity in Christ in a number of ways.
First, we fill our minds and hearts with God’s Word daily and regularly. As we do this, we learn the truth about reality and ourselves; we replace the ideologies of our culture with the truth of God’s Word, which makes us better equipped to discern error and falsehood in the culture around us. As we feed on God’s Word and listen to God’s voice (a voice that is recorded in the very words of Scripture), our hearts are bolstered and more protected from idols, our minds are renewed and realigned, our perspectives are changed, we become grounded again in the gospel, we find our love for God rekindled, and our hopes are reset to hope on Jesus and the grace of God.
A second way we grow in our identity in Christ is by becoming members of a gospel-centered local church. (If you live in Naperville and are not part of a local church, I invite you to ours: Cross of Christ Fellowship, or to check out another gospel-centered church, a good resource is 9Marks). Being a member of a local church helps us in our identity in Christ as we hear the gospel preached, we sing worship songs with other believers, we hear the Scriptures read, we pray with others and receive prayer for ourselves, we are challenged to have our lives reflect the truth we profess to believe, and we are given opportunities to have our hearts nourished as we take the Lord’s Supper and see others baptized.
A third way we grow in our identity in Christ is by recognizing how much like the culture we have become and by asking God to transform us to be more like Christ. Perhaps we have become very worldly in our approach to life, and have put comfort, convenience, career status, or our children’s success before Christ. Maybe the pressures of performance, the paradise-now mentality, and overscheduling have drawn us away from believing and living out our faith. What we do now is confess our sin and trust in Christ (1 John 1:8-9). We repent of our worldliness (James 4:4-10; Hosea 6:1-6) and we trust in Christ as our savior (1 Tim 2:3-6; Rom 10:9-10). We plead with God that He might be our first love and that we might faithfully live as His ambassador (2 Cor 5:17-21).
As we pursue our identity in Christ we are more able to live faithfully for Christ in Naperville.
In the next post we’ll think of how having a theology that sets its gaze on the heavenly city can be another help for us as Christians in Naperville.