Friday, 2 June 2017

deFining iDentity

Things happen in life which help refine us into fine people again – refining. After all, we each need refining from time to time. Our bad attitudes such as bitterness, ungratefulness, unforgiveness, and slothfulness all becomes dross which cloud our lives and makes us less able to reflect God’s glory. The refining of metals in a furnace, especially silver and gold, helps to remove their impurities. The more silver is refined, for example, the more it becomes reflective. This is the picture that Malachi paints in Malachi 3:3 where God is the Refiner and His people are the silver.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.
Malachi 3:3
 These refining moments – where the Refiner uses tragedy, success, and criticism (among other things) to refine His children, help to form our identity. Our identity hosts our character which is who we really are, especially under pressure. When our Father’s refining runs its course, it makes us finer. The dictionary defines ‘fine’ as-
fine, adj.  of very high quality; very good of its kind : this was a fine piece of film-making | fine wines • worthy of or eliciting admiration :  a fine musician •  good; satisfactory :  relations in the group were fine.
When we are finer we are less angry, more patient, more caring, more resilient, more focussed and more diligent in our responsibilities towards others. Each of these things could be identified as one of the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23
Our identity is “who we are”. For the believer who is being refined by the Father, their identity increasingly becomes: a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, an adopted son or daughter of the Father, an ambassador of Christ, a new creation. Life’s refining moments shape us for the better. But sadly, sometimes a child of God does not recognise this. Rather than the Father’s refining leading them to behold Christ in worship in the midst of their refining (2Cor. 3:18), they look somewhere else.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18


I have met people who are not who they should be. They have been hurt. Some have been unjustly hurt – severely. This is sad. But it’s even sadder when it’s a believer who chooses to identify more with their hurt than the effect of beholding the glory of the Lord in Christ (2Cor. 3:18). I have also met people who have been horribly abused who have been refined into beautifully Christ-like believers. This kind of hurt takes years to refine from their identity. Initially, it dominated their lives and became their identity. They withdrew. They grieved. They hid. They even tried to ignore it. They took measures to protect themselves with excess food or pills or alcohol. When people asked how they were they would say little or say everything. But then they felt the Spirit’s gentle wooing.
¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7
In response to the Spirit’s invitation to hand over their hurt and pain (1Peter 5:6-7) they cry out to God in prayer, “Father, please heal my heart!” The Father answers their prayer by summoning them into His presence. They respond how any believer who comes into the presence of God does: they worship. And thus their identity (who they really are) is redefined to that of a worshiper. It is only when a hurt believer redefines their identity as a worshiper that they can begin to be healed. It is only from the posture of worship (surrender to God) that a believer can be truly refined. 
No matter what’ve been through, the Father can heal you and put you in His witness-relocation program by relocating you from being a victim who identifies with their hurt to being a victor who identifies with the glory of the Lord in Christ, the Ultimate Victor – who knows a thing or two about being hurt and abused.

Pastor Andrew.

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