I think we have an identity crisis in our world today. I’m not talking about what pronoun is preferable, or bathroom preference, or even high school sports. Our identity is in crisis in the world today because we don’t know who Christ is. It’s impossible to know who we are when we don’t know the one who created us to begin with. We clearly struggle with our own identity, which leads to confusion, which leads to us settling for a false or watered down identity. In short, we are living with an identity that we are settling for.
Let’s talk about a familiar healing in the Bible. The account is located in John chapter 5 and begins with a pool known as Bethesda. The water was surrounded by porches, and the Bible describes the people on these porches as a great multitude. All of these people had a couple of things in common. First, they were disabled. Some were blind, others were paralyzed and crippled, and secondly they were all dependent upon an angel to trouble or stir the waters for their healing. The problem was, the strongest and fastest became the winner, received their healing and the weaker were always left out.
Jesus approached one day and made eye contact with one man. He asked him if he wanted to be healed, and the man gave him every reason why he couldn’t. This man had settled and become comfortable in his current and long term identity. 38 years and he had given up on being first into the water. But why did Jesus go specifically to this man when the entire area was flooded with broken people? I think maybe he was the only one to see Jesus when everyone else saw the pool. People were so fixated on the water to provide healing that they missed the healer himself. We’re only blind to what we can’t see. I know that sounds elementary, but how many of us are settling for an identity because we’re blinded by the wrong focus? Notice that Jesus healed the man where he was without the use of the water. Also notice that none of the other people even noticed what was going on because it happened away from the pool. Notice again that even though the multitude was desperate for healing, none of them flogged Jesus after the man was healed.
The glory in this story is that a man’s life was changed, and he was healed of his long term disability. The sad fact is that Jesus had to approach him. He never asked for his healing. He never shouted out to Jesus in desperation. He was restored because Jesus came to him. We can become very comfortable in our sin if we convince ourselves long enough that it’s normal. We can give every reason why Jesus can’t change our lives because, when he does we’re going to have to pick up and support that which spent its life supporting us and for this man, it was his mat. He had spent the majority, if not all, of his life allowing his mat to identify him. Now his identity was in Christ’s healing. Now he had to walk in that new identity, and that’s where many stop short. We want the change a lot of times but not the identifying marking to go with it. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. In other words, if you’re going to make it to heaven, then you’ll have to die to your old identity and put on the identity of Jesus; it’s as simple as that.
I have to wonder how many of those people that day at the pool stuck around on those porches for another three years waiting for “some thing” to happen that would change their lives, while Jesus was across town changing lives and healing bodies. I have to wonder how long some of us will sit around waiting for a change, waiting for our breakthrough, when all the while Jesus is across town, across the street or across the room changing lives and healing bodies while we’re too busy watching for ”the thing.”
I would like to personally invite you to Christpoint Church this Sunday. Bring your old identity and trade up for a new one. We’re on the square at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and we’ll meet you at the door. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.
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