We are a peculiar people. We’re set apart. We’re different. We live in a world that at the least, doesn’t understand us and at the most, passionately hates us. Yet somehow we manage to work, play and love in this world every single day. In fact, that’s the expectation for us—a light, some salt, in but not of the world.
Now aside from all that, in our human spirit there is a new nature from God, fighting to prevail within us. A new nature diametrically opposed to our flesh and our sinful tendencies. Sometimes, this better nature loses.
Yet somehow it has still taken us over. It has become who we are. It is how we see ourselves now, how we define ourselves. And it is a true self—more what we were meant to be than our old self. Holy … forgiven … children of God … righteousness of Christ … Christian.
We define ourselves this way only because we have learned to understand grace and have come to know the one who defines us. In and of ourselves, we are undeserving. But God loves us and has said, “You are worthy because of me!” And somehow, that impartation of grace transforms us, gives us purpose for living, the desire to live out our potential, the ability to love others and God in return. It gives us real dignity and worth. God makes us significant because we matter to Him.
This is not only who we are, but it is why we are. Why we exist: because God wanted a people who would love Him freely and be loved by Him, who would enjoy and take care of His creation, and who just relish being alive.
Then we come to the realization that this dichotomy in our nature not only defines us in relationship to God but also in relationship to the world around us. The Bible states that the first apostles turned the world upside down. Perhaps because those believers themselves were being rewired by the Holy Spirit in such a way that their value system, their sense of self as a whole, was backward from everyone around them.
There’s this cute children’s song called “Backwards Land.” It sings of a place where you can Have popcorn in the morning, pancakes in the night/ Fly your boat and float your favorite kite, and so on. Sometimes I wonder if we believers are not all secret citizens of “Backwards Land” ourselves. I mean, think about it … The first shall be last and the last shall be first. A little child shall lead them. Wealth comes from giving it all away. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. The greatest among you shall be least and the master the servant of all.
God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. The base things of the culture He uses to bring to nothing the things we deem of worth. The humble are exalted and the proud are brought low. In our weakness is where we are the strongest. A person must lose their life in order to find it. We live to die and we die to live.
Christians really do become a new creation. Psalm 139 says God has woven each of us together in our mother’s womb. DNA is a woven strand of molecules. It makes up who we are physically. Our spiritual DNA is like that also, woven and spun by a Master’s hand. Without Him we are not complete. We are in fact, nothing. With Him, we are made into who we were always meant to be … A people set apart. The ecclesia. The called out ones. Citizens of a new heaven and a new earth to come. Yet we still live on this planet. Most of us love it here, to be honest. We really do enjoy and take care of God’s creation, and we really do relish just being alive. However, all of us also have a great commission to fulfill. People want to know who they are and what their purpose is. We can tell them. That is an awesome responsibility.[Nicholas Fedele is 34 years old stuck on 14. He is a RN charge nurse on a cardiac medical surgical unit in Central New York. He has been married for 11 years and has a 5-year-old daughter and one more child on the way (God willing).]