So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3: 1-4. CSB.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB.
There comes a point in a believer’s life that I call the “wow” moment. The moment comes when their spiritual growth takes them to passages like the ones above that clearly define their new identity. On those days when I feel especially broken or distant from God I go to verses like these and am reminded, God loves me so much that he unified me with His own Son. It took His Son’s atoning blood to make it happen, but he made the loving choice to bring us together. Meditate on that phrase in Colossians 3:4, “For you died and your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God.” The word “hidden” is the Greek word Koopto which means “concealed or secured.” My identity is completely wrapped up, hidden, secured and concealed in Christ. All of my sins, my insecurities, my anxieties, my embarrassments and frustrations are concealed and affixed to Jesus Christ through the work of the Father. I am “in Christ”, meaning I have changed identities.
My freshman year of college was by far the darkest days of my life. I was chasing worldly pursuits, living as though God was not real, seeking only what my flesh desired. I was running after the wind and pursuing after something that I didn’t even understand. I was directionless, confused and far from God. I found no satisfaction in any of my pursuits, they only left me feeling empty and frustrated. I was a Christian (though not living it) and I had a call to ministry (though I wasn’t acknowledging it). My “wow” moment happened on the back row of a church in December of 1991. No one in that church knew how miserable I felt and how confused I was in my personal faith struggle. But on that night, I surrendered when I came to the realization that all my striving and pursuing was of no lasting value. Though my salvation was already secured on this night I made the choice to accept my new identity. I would no longer live for me and I would no longer chase after the narcissistic ideologies of this world. I am in Christ, it is no longer about me. I have stopped striving and I am content in Him. It is a freeing thing to not worry about making a name for yourself or being known by others.
Your life is hidden, your union with Him is secured, your eternity is reserved and your only aim should be to please Him.
Paul says that we have been “raised with Christ” and “hidden with Christ”. He then makes that incredible statement regarding my identity, “When Christ, WHO IS YOUR LIFE, appears, then you also will appear with him in Glory.” (Col. 3:4). This is all that matters. Your spiritual identity is not found by asking the question “who am I?” it is found by asking “Whose Am I?” Paul says that God “chose us IN HIM before the creation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4).
What does it mean to be hidden or unified with Christ? There is not enough space in this article to fully explain this, but it is safe to say that God sees you through His Son. God doesn’t see our shame and failures once they are forgiven. (Isaiah 43:25). When the Father evaluates us He doesn’t look only at us alone. God always sees every believer in union with Christ and therefore as righteous. Theologians call this the “imputation” of righteousness, I call it amazing grace.
Once I understand Whose I Am, it changes my life.
Living for yourself is an exhausting endeavor because you will never be satisfied. When we come to grips with our identity in Christ we find the sweetest of contentment as illustrated by Paul in Philippians 4:10-13. It is not that we stop striving for excellence or accomplishment, it is simply that our striving is for Him and His glory. When we strive for ourselves, we chase the wind. When we strive for Him, we chase after the one who calms the wind.
The Bible is a collective story of sinners who found a new identity and were used in mighty ways. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Levi became Matthew, Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul. David went from sitting in the seat of a shepherd to sitting on the throne of Israel. James and John were known as “sons of thunder” and Christ made them “sons of God.” Perhaps is greatest example of one who understood their identity was John the Baptist. Jesus said of him, “among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” (Luke 7:28). When Jesus began his ministry, John had a large following and his own loyal disciples. Yet when Jesus came into focus and stepped in to the Jordan River, John’s ministry became one of refracting any attention to Christ. Some even believed that John the Baptist was the Messiah (John 1:20), yet instead of working to attract a bigger crowd or more attention to himself he said, “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:27).
Though Paul the Apostle was known by thousands, he often referred to himself as a “slave of Christ.” It is this perpetual self-denial that is the essential element of reaching that “wow” moment as a believer. “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:20. In this world of self-absorption we who know him are called to a higher way of living. If you are sitting on the throne of your heart, you should move over. You are in His chair. If I want to truly encounter all that God has for me in this life, I would do well in finding my identity in Him. Not begrudgingly, but willingly and joyfully. The greatest thing about me is the one living in me.