Your Identity and Your Mission

 


 

 

Abide-13

 

TITLE: Your Identity and Your Mission

TEXT: John 17:6-19

TONE: Encouragement

TARGET: Believers

TASK: For believers to discover or at least remember their identity and embrace the mission given to them by Christ.

TEACH: I want to start by sharing a story of an encounter at an airport. I think it beautifully illustrates the theme of our message today: Understanding your identity and your mission. As I was waiting for my flight in the bustling terminal, I couldn’t help but notice a young man sitting across from me. He looked anxious, checking his watch every few minutes and staring out the window at the planes taking off and landing. Eventually, he turned to me and asked if I knew when the flight to Chicago was boarding. We started talking, and it turned out he was on his way to start a new job -a big step in his career. But beneath his excitement was a layer of uncertainty. He told me about his fears: Am I making the right decision? What if I fail? What if I don’t belong? In that moment, it struck me. Here he was, on the threshold of a significant change questioning his identity and his purpose, just like many of us do at various points in our lives.

 

I shared with him some words of encouragement and faith reminding him that while new opportunities can be daunting, they are also a change for incredible growth. Most importantly, I told him that his worth and identity are not solely defined by his job, his success, or his fears, but by something much greater. We all have moments where we question who we are and whether we’re on the right path. But it’s in those moments that we need to remember who we are in Christ and lean into His mission for us. 

 

TRUTH: Jesus prays for His disciples with the primary purpose of seeking divine protection, unity, and sanctification for them as they face the impending challenges of continuing His mission in the world. Understanding the significant trials and oppositions His disciples would encounter, Jesus intercedes on their behalf, asking the Father to keep them united, safeguard them from the evil one, and sanctify them in truth. By doing so, He aims to ensure that they remain steadfast and effective witnesses of the Gospel. Essential to the success of such a task is dependent on understanding at least two important truths: Your identity and You mission.

 

Let’s begin by looking at our shared identity.

 

I.                             We are given by the Father to the Son.

a.        Explanation: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” The term “manifested” (φανέρωσα in Greek) underscores the revelatory role of Jesus Christ. He has made know the name- representing the essence, character, and nature -of God to the disciples. In Jewish thought, the “name” of God encapsulates His being and attributes. By revealing God’s name, Jesus is making known God’s character, His love, holiness, mercy and truth. The revelation is a key function of the Incarnation (Jn. 1:18), where the invisible God is made known visibly in Jesus.

 

b.        Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Jesus did not instantly reveal the Father in a blaze of glory, because His disciples could not have endured the kind of experience. Gradually, by His words and His deeds, He revealed to them the nature of God, as they were able to bear it.”

 

The phrase “whom you have me out of the world” points to the doctrine of election. The disciples, and by extension all true believers, are portrayed as a gift from the Father to the Son.  This act of giving illustrates the sovereign grace of God in the act of salvation (Jn. 6:37,39). The Father’s choice is not based on any foreseen merit in the believer but is a manifestation of His divine will and love.

 

The concept of being taken “out of the world” indicates a calling out from the realm of sin, rebellion, and unbelief into a distinct, holy community. This draws on the idea of sanctification, where believers are set apart for God’s purposes. It signifies a new identity and mission for the disciples, who are no longer of the world’s order but belong to the Kingdom of God (Jn.15:19).

 

c.        Illustration: Ashton recently bought me a pen and gave it as a gift. He purchased it and gave it to me. Now that the pen is in my possession, I have the liberty to use it in any manner I choose. However, because I am aware of the love and intention behind Ashton’s gift, you naturally feel a sense of stewardship and honor towards the pen. I choose to use it thoughtfully and with respect, honoring the one who thoughtfully gave it to me. Instead of misuse and neglect, I find way to utilize the pen in ways that reflect it purpose and beauty.

 

d.        Application: Embrace your Identity by keeping His Word.

 

II.                          We are set-apart by the Father for the Son.

a.        Explanation: “All your mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” Later, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth…” This statement illustrated the perfect unity and mutual indwelling between the Father and the Son. It reveals a relationship of shared possession and reciprocity within the Trinity, underscoring the divine nature of Jesus. It points to a seamless connection where there is no sense of rivalry or division. By claiming everything of the Father is His, Jesus is asserting His divinity. This shows Jesus as having equal authority with the Father, reflecting the equality and distinctiveness within the Godhead.

 

To sanctify something is to set it apart for holy purposes. Jesus is asking the Father to set the disciples apart through the truth. This underscored the importance of spiritual formation rooted in God’s Word. The word (logos) represents the ultimate truth revealed through Scripture and embodied in Jesus Himself. This sanctification implies a continual growth in holiness, guided and grounded by divine truth.

 

Jesus is glorified in them, when His followers exhibit His character, carry out His mission, and unify in love and truth. The disciples’ obedience and faithfulness to Jesus bring honor and recognition to His name.

 

Our security rests in another fact: we are here to glorify Him. With all their failures and faults, the disciples still receive the word of commendation. God has provided the divine resources needed to glorify Him through His Word.

 

b.        Illustration: Imagine a gardener who has planted a beautiful garden. This garden is full of different types of plants, each with its unique beauty. The gardener works tirelessly, knowing every flower, leaf, and stem, providing them with everything they need to thrive. The garden is a reflection of the gardener’s skill, vision, and care. Everything the gardener has poured into the garden represents his skill and dedication. When people come to see the garden, they marvel at its beauty and want to know who crafted such a wondrous work. The healthy, vibrant plants glorify the gardener without speaking a word, simply by existing as they were intended. So too, the disciples, embodying Christ’s values and mission, become living testimonies to Jesus transformative power.

 

c.        Application: Embrace your Destiny by looking to Glory.

 

III.                       We are kept by the Father through the Son.

a.        Explanation:And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me…”  Here, Jesus expresses the transitional phase of His ministry. He emphasizes the dichotomy between His imminent physical departure and the continued earthly presence of His disciples. The disciples will remain in the world, an environment riddles with spiritual and moral challenges. Therefore, their need for divine protection and preservation is paramount. We are given as a gift that cannot be lost.

 

The phrase “…and I am coming to you” illustrates Jesus’ anticipation of reunification with the Father. It reflects His longing for divine fellowship that He momentarily set aside to fulfill His redemptive mission on Earth. Jesus invokes the term “Holy Father,” denoting both reverence and intimacy. “Holy” underscored God’s transcendent purity, while “Father” denotes a deep, familial intimacy. Praying for the Father to “keep them in your name” identifies the divine name as a symbol of God’s character and power. Jesus is asking the Father to safeguard His disciples by enveloping them within the fulness of His divine nature.

 

Further, Jesus adds, “…which you have given me, that may be one, even as we are one.” Jesus’ request for unity among His followers is profound. The “oneness” He describes is not mere agreement or harmony but a deep, relational unity that mirrors the oneness shared between then Father and the Son. It is a call for spiritual unity grounded in love, purpose and mission, reflective of the divine relationship in the Trinity.

 

b.        Illustration: Imagine a celebrated artist who has crafted a masterpiece in a vibrant, bustling city. The artist, knowing that they must soon depart for an extended journey abroad, call upon a trust guardian to protect and preserve the masterpiece. This guardian is someone who shares the artist’s deep appreciation and understanding of the work, someone who can ensure its integrity and showcase its beauty to the world. Before leaving, the artist says to the guardian, “I will be away, but the masterpiece will remain here, surrounded by elements that may either admire or endanger it. Protect it in my name, for it carries my essence. Let those who see it recognizes the unity and harmony in every brushstroke, just as they would if I were here to explain and protect it myself.”

 

In spiritual terms, the artist stands for Jesus, who has accomplished the masterpiece of salvation and imparted His teachings. The bustling city symbolizes the world with all its distractions, challenges, and influences. The guardian represents God the Father, who is tasked with preserving and protecting the work and essence of Jesus in the lives of His disciples. The masterpiece itself symbolizes the unity and testimony of the disciples, who are meant to reflect the beauty and purpose of Jesus’ mission while navigating the complexities of worldly life.

 

c.        Spurgeon once said, “Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord; a shepherds would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweler one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people.”

 

d.        Application: Embrace your Security by modeling Unity.

 

 

 

IV.                      We are hated by the world because of the Son.

a.        Explanation:I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Jesus indicates a distinct difference between His followers and the world. The “world” here refers to human systems and values opposed to God’s will and truth. The disciples, having received and internalized God’s Word, stand in stark contrast to mainstream societal norms, ideologies, and practices that reject divine principles.

 

The world’s hatred stems from this fundamental difference. Just as Jesus faced opposition and rejection because His teachings and life challenged the status quo, His followers encounter similar animosity due to their adherence to divine truth. “Not of the world” emphasizes the disciples’ transformed identity. Being “not of the word” signifies they belong to a different reality -the Kingdom of God.

 

Jesus uses the word, “world” 15 times to emphasize the distinct and often adversarial relationship between His followers and the prevailing systems and values of the earthly realm. By frequently referring to the ‘world,’ Jesus highlights the disciples’ separation from worldly influences, the spiritual dangers they face, and the mission to reach and transform the world despite its hostility.

 

b.        Illustration: Imagine a lighthouse situated on a rugged coastline. This lighthouse emits a powerful, steady light, guiding ships safely through stormy, dark water. Within this darkness, the light is conspicuous -distinctly separate and illuminating. The lighthouse represents the disciples who gave received God’s Word. Just as the lighthouse is designed to reflect light, the disciples, have internalized divine truth, reflect this truth in their lives. The Word of God within them is the source of their distinctiveness and guidance.

 

Now picture several smaller boats near the lighthouse that fight against its light, preferring to navigate in their self-assumed understanding, rejecting the guidance its offers. These boats represent the world and its system, opposed to being guided by the light. Instead, of letting the light be a guide, they are provoked by it. In love, we are called to provoke the world.

 

c.        Application: Embrace your Mission by engaging the World.

 

We are gospel people with a gospel message.

 

TIE-UP: We started talking of this message by talking about a young man about to take a big step in his career, but beneath his excitement was a layer of uncertainty. Remember, the fears he told me: Am I making the right decision? What if I fail? What if I don’t belong? Maybe, you have the same feelings, if so, remember your identity and your mission by embracing them both. 

 

© 2012 - 2024 Blake Gideon. All rights Reserved 

 

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