I don’t know about you, but there was quite a bit written in these chapters that challenged me. To be honest, I’m not sure any summary that I could write would do these chapters justice. Part 4 is about our New Identity in Christ and what that means for us. The core message of this part of the book is that whatever God has done to us, he intends to also do through us. In other words, we are able to be a part of the amazing work of God in the salvation of the lost, the care of the weak, the mending of the broken, and much, much more.
The stories throughout these four chapters speak to that over and over again, and I found myself wanting to see God work in the ways Jeff was talking about. I want to believe in the power of God’s Spirit to bring people who seem beyond hope to repentance. And it seemed to me that one of the common threads throughout this section was that we as God’s people can believe by faith that God will do things beyond our wildest imaginations.
What would it be like if we a God’s people were to love our neighbors as Jesus has loved us? What if we were to care for them as we would our own family? Not only would we be changed through doing that, but I have to believe that we would also see God saving and sanctifying these same people in time. I think that it would best serve you to watch these two short videos taken from the book that help to understand what our lives can really be now that we have a new identity in Christ.
At the end of part 4 Jeff summarizes everything well:
We have the Spirit of God in us so that we might be empowered, just as Jesus was. We are his missionaries, filled and anointed by his Spirit. If you have the Spirit of God, you are a missionary sent by Jesus to tell the world who he is and what he has done. Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”1 Everywhere you go, whatever you do, you are a missionary sent by Jesus to love like Jesus, overcome sin like Jesus, proclaim the gospel like Jesus, and see people’s lives changed by the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. You are always on mission. Every part of your life, every activity and event, is part of Jesus’s mission to make disciples. Remember, you are not alone on this mission. Jesus goes with you everywhere because his Spirit is in you to empower you to be his representative in the world. He wants to saturate your world in Word and deed by his presence at work in and through you by his Spirit. Our baptism is a reminder of our new identity in Christ. We have been saturated with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have a new name because we are new creations that can do new works by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. This is why Jesus places baptism first in the sequence of events of making disciples. He wants us to know who we are and what power we now have to do what he wants. His command for us to “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you” comes after we establish people in their new identity (Matt. 28:19–20). Since you do who you are, you need to know who you are in Christ. Knowing and believing who you are in Christ leads you to obey Jesus’s commands. The people in our young, growing church didn’t need a new to-do list. They needed to be reminded of their new identity in Christ. The same is true for you. We are the Father’s family; therefore, we love others like he loved us. We are servants of Christ; therefore, we serve the least of these as he served us. We are missionaries filled and empowered by the same Spirit that was in Jesus; therefore, we are always on mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Whatever he has done to us, he now wants to do through us to others.
I know I didn’t write much today about this part, but I am still processing it and thinking about what it means for me personally. I would really encourage you to read these chapters if you haven’t yet and be amazed at what God can do. I would love to be a part of the glorious and unbelievable works of God in this world.
For next week we will actually finish the book! I’ve had a few conversations with others who are reading this and they have been very challenged and in some ways changed by it. No book is perfect, but I think that the vision for discipleship and community laid out in this book is worth your time to think about.