We have an identity crisis on our hands. It’s been my observation that Christians (including myself) mostly do not understand what it means to be a healthy church member.
It started with the first human and their lost identity. They were created like God, but were deceived into believing they could and should attempt to be like God individually, independent of God and each other. When this happened, they lost their true identity.
There are two main aspects to recovering it. People and churches tend to emphasize one over the other. When they do, it creates all sorts of unhealthiness. They fall off one side of the horse or the other, so to speak.
Here we’re going to take a short look at each of those aspects and why both must be equally present and active.
The source of humanity
First, we must turn our attention to God Himself. This is where both aspects are found. He is the eternal Person from where all other people have come. We were made to image God. We were designed to function like He functions. We represent His nature and character. Our identity as people is found there. Fixing the identity crisis starts with observing what’s going on within God.
The first aspect
The first aspect that’s essential to the identity of the Persons within God is their uniqueness. None of them are quite like the others. They are one, but they aren’t the same. God mirrored this aspect of Himself when He created the human race.
I love what Milt Rodriguez points out in his book The Community Life of God about the uniqueness (and therefore specialness) of each human being…
There are literally billions of people on this planet right now and yet each one is unique. And that’s just those people who are alive right now! What about the billions who have gone before us and those who will come after?
Think about all of the people who have ever been born in the human race since the beginning. Each and every one of those is completely unique. Your God is into the uniqueness of the person.
He created you as a unique individual. He created you to be a unique expression of Him. You can bring out and express a side of Him that no one else can express.
The Father came into His Son and marked off a particular portion of the life of His Son and He wrote your name on it!
There’s literally no one else like you. No one else can demonstrate exactly what you can demonstrate.
Being in an environment of freedom that empowers you to do so, and then exercising your responsibility to do so is one aspect of being a healthy church member.
Any environment that suppresses this should be abandoned. It’s not of the Kingdom. The foundation of that environment is not Christ.
The second aspect
The second aspect that’s essential to the identity of the Persons within God is their oneness. Their uniqueness is revealed and demonstrated only in the environment of their oneness.
They don’t lose their identity because of their oneness. The oneness defines it. How they relate to one another is what brings out their uniqueness. Because they are one, they have the opportunity to be unique.
Each Person’s ability to be healthy members is dependent on their relationship to the others. Their relationship is the essence of who God is.
Any environment that doesn’t prioritize godly, mutually submissive relationship (Eph. 5:21) above all else (agendas, programs and other “things”) should be abandoned. It’s not of the Kingdom. The foundation of that environment is not Christ.
You are a part of Christ
Just like each Person in God is a part of the one God, each person in Christ is a part of the one Christ.
Rodriguez goes on to say…
You have been called, chosen, set apart, sanctified, and then placed into the Body of Christ to fulfill a great destiny. That destiny is to be part of His fullness (Eph. 1:23). This fullness is His Body, the expression of Him who fills all in all.
A person without community is like a fish out of water. Only in our Spirit-produced corporateness do we truly reflect to all creation the grand dynamic that lies at the heart of the Triune God.
A God-like community is where you belong. Only when we’re in the right environment can we truly find ourselves and thrive.
Christians love Bible verses like “You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” (Jer. 18:1-6) But we must realize that a God-like community is His spinning wheel that forms each of us into our unique selves individually and into His masterpiece corporately (Eph. 2:10).
Why you must have both
In order to be a healthy church member, you must have an environment where both the uniqueness (and importance) of each individual and the oneness of the community are held in harmony with one another.
Many people, churches and other types of communities make the mistake of thinking one comes before the other or emphasize one over the other.
They focus so much on developing their individual relationship with God, their spiritual gifts, and whatever that they miss the point that there’s no truly finding yourself outside of a God-like community environment.
Others will focus so much on community life and fail to see the inherent riches that each individual person brings to the community. This results in community life that elevates certain people and giftings while other people and giftings are suppressed.
A select few create agendas and exercise control because they only know how to manufacture counterfeit unity. Only people that feel like they fit in stick around.
To truly be a healthy Body, each person must exercise their uniqueness within oneness.
The “mystery of the ages” was that the human race was created to be an extension of God’s community life.
Here’s how it was put in the letter to the Colossians…
…that is, the mystery which had been hidden fro the past ages and generations, but now has been revealed to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles is, the mystery that is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)
May this reality become not so mysterious to each of us, for this is where humans truly find themselves.