Worship, Identity, & Action

We are suffering from an identity crisis. Both in and outside of the church: we don’t know who we are. A simple survey of the most popular products and platforms reveal this problem, although it’s quite subtle. We grab our iPhones or iPads or iMacs all connected to iClouds searching social media platforms in an attempt to answer the question: “Who am i?” The irony surely isn’t lost on us: we plaster our products with the one word we can’t seem to define—i. Some ironies deserve a smirk, yet this one demands much more. As “i” has proliferated the popular products, a desperate cry is detectable, a passionate plea arises: we are unable to define the small word creating not just confusion but crisis—we don’t know who we are.

Stuart Briscoe once said, “The more you tell someone who they are, the less you have to tell them what to do.” But if you don’t know who you are, you won’t know what to do, for all action flows from identity. And identity is secured through worship.

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus speaks to the seven churches about their actions, even declaring to five out of the seven churches, “I know your deeds” (Rev 2:2, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). Some of their actions are commended, while many of their deeds are confronted or rebuked. Why? Because your actions flow from your identity, and if you claim to follow Christ, then your deeds should mirror his.

The discussions on deeds in Revelation 2-3 give way to a magnificent moment of worship in Revelation 4-5. The grandeur of the one seated on the throne is punctuated by the presence of the twenty-four elders enthroned with crowns they lay at God’s feet (4:4, 9-11) and the four living creatures singing without end: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the all-powerful Lord, God—the one who was and is and is to come” (4:8). A scene of worship where God’s identity is celebrated as both beyond us and that which defines us.

In Revelation 5, the worship service climaxes with the appearance of Jesus depicted not as expected: “John looked, and instead of a Lion, he saw a lamb, standing amidst the throne of God…yet looking as if it had been slain” (5:6a). The slain Lamb who silences John’s tears and ours; who stands victorious over life and death; whose identity defines and clarifies our own.

“…you [Jesus] were slain. Yet you purchased for God every tribe, tongue, people, and nation with your blood. For God, you made them into a kingdom and priests, ruling the entire earth.” (5:9b-10)

When you belong to Christ, you are royalty. A kingdom. Daughters and Sons of the King. When you belong to Christ, you are priests. Entry points to God. Bridges to the divine, bringing together heaven and earth through your worship. And when you embrace your identity in Christ, your deeds will surely follow.

  • Scriptures
    • Revelation 1:5-6
    • 1 Peter 2:9-10
    • 1 John 2:3-6
    • Matthew 7:15-20
    • John 13:34-35
  • Reflection Questions/Exercises
    • In your journal, write at the top “Who am I?” List as many answers as you can following this formula, “I am [fill in the blank]” (e.g., “I am a father,” “I am a student,” “I am a daughter,” etc.). Then, on another sheet, write at the top “Who does God say I am?” List as many answers as you can following this formula, “He says I am [fill in the blank]” (e.g., “He says I am the bride of Christ,” “He says I am co-heirs with Christ,” etc.). Now compare the lists. What do you notice? Spend time prayerfully reflecting on the similarities and differences.

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