Blessed to be "In Christ"

Spreading The Truth One Byte At A Time

By Ron Bender© 2008, 2013

Read The Bible

"Temple of Artemis in Ancient Ephesus"

Most of my life has been a great "Play" I was the Main character, writer, and producer. I played the part of a good Christian young man, bible student, and missionary. Ok I suppose I allowed God to direct at times but it was only at times. I felt like two different people. One was the hero and one was the villain. All too often I enjoyed playing the villain. The only thing that kept my play on the stage was the fact that I truly trusted and believed in God and of His work to perfect my life.

Finally, all things went out of control. I found myself looking out from between the bars of a prison door wondering just how I got there. It was only sometime later I realized the truth. I was never the hero! I was always the villain. My life was rooted in the script that was written by men. Fame, fortune, and pleasure were the underlaying themes.

I prayed and prayed for God to use me to help people see the same truth. I was frustrated with God. I questioned the mere fact that he could ever use such trash like me for His calling. I felt inadequate. I became depressed.

Then I sensed God say, “Ron, why are you so distressed? Don’t look to your pass, your income, or what people think of you for your identity and well-being. Learn to find your significance in Christ – hold your head high because you belong to me!”

Rising and Falling Self-Esteem

Over the years I have talked with many people whose self-esteem rises and falls depending upon their circumstances. They feel good about themselves if they succeed or if people approve of them.

We all know this insecure experience because that’s what it’s like to be a child. Children are dependent upon their parents and have to establish their sense of self and their identity. But many of us have grown up physically, but not emotionally and we don’t have a strong sense of identity as a person who is loved and significant to God and others – no matter what we do or what people say about us.

I have found that pastors, preachers, and caregivers of all kinds especially struggle with this. They become so focused on their ministry to others that this becomes their source of identity and self-esteem. If their service, care, or teaching is appreciated then they feel fulfilled, but when they are criticized, underutilized, or not noticed then they feel insignificant.

Helping others is important, but it is a secondary source of identity. Jesus taught us that we are branches that need to abide in him, the True Vine, even as he abided in the Father – then we will bear much fruit in the power of the Spirit (John 15:1-17). Effective ministry comes out of our intimacy with Jesus, which comes, in part, by participating in community with other Christ-followers.

The False Gods of Ephesus

If you would be able to walk in the streets of ancient Ephesus (now modern day Turkey), you would see the temple of Artemis. Here people came from miles in all directions to bring offerings of worship to this false god. Others in Ephesus worshiped the emperor Nero. Many, like Demetrius and his guild of silversmiths, used Artemis for profit by making and selling shrines – they found their source in money. And many practiced magic and sorcery inspired by Artemis even as others frequented the brothel near the temple.

Is it any different today? Our false gods may be more subtle – we call them “compulsions” or “entertainments.” Just as the people of ancient Ephesus we need to learn to draw our personal sustenance from an identity that is rooted “in Christ.” not in some sub-cuture or TV show.

“In Christ” Promises

In his New Testament letters the Apostle Paul teaches us to root our identity “in Christ.” Nearly 150 times he shares beloved promises from God on how blessed we will be if we will find our all and all in Christ alone. The book with the highest concentration of “in Christ” promises is Ephesians.

I’d like to share with you seven of God’s “in Christ” promises from Ephesians. They form a progression for a life that is growing in God’s grace, apprenticed to Jesus Christ to become more and more like him from the inside out: secure, loved, esteemed, purposeful, strong – no matter what circumstances we face. You’ll want to pray these promises out loud, inserting your name in the blank:

In Christ __________

  • is chosen by the Father (1:3)
  • is forgiven of all sins (1:7)
  • is sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13)
  • has the incomparable riches of God’s grace (2:7)
  • is not far away, but has been brought near to God (2:13)
  • can approach God with freedom and confidence (3:12)
  • is a shining light to bless others (5:8)
Hide God’s Word in your Heart

I put these promises on a little sheet of paper to carry in my pocket and I memorized them so I could meditate on them over and over. What could be more important than learning to accept and live out our identity in Christ?

To help you internalize these promises you need Christ’s Ambassadors in your life to show you God’s unconditional love and encourage you in the way of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). And they need you too so make sure to share these promises with others. Pray them for people God puts on your mind. Pass them on to friends as God’s words of affirmation.

I ask you to pray about the possibility of partnering with those who bring the ministry of transformation to people who need a new lease on life. People, like me, who were lost in a play that was rotted in the identity of the world. The only hope for people such as this will be finding a new identity. Many time I would wish for just that. a new identity. New Name, new social secuity and a fresh start. That would be the ticket. Than I realized something else, that ticket, that new identity, would only be useful if I truly wanted change in my life.

The Only Identity I know of is “in Christ.”


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Ronald Bender- President/CEO Bender Consulting.~



Faith In God