I am who I am to I AM….

You have probably read a personal statement put out by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the wake of his discovery in recent months that the man he thought was his father was not in fact his father. The following words are part of what he has said in response to that fact:

This revelation has, of course, been a surprise, but in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse. I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes. Even more importantly my role as Archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers.

Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father’s (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives. It is a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being.

At the very outset of my inauguration service three years ago, Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a young member of the Canterbury Cathedral congregation, said: “We greet you in the name of Christ. Who are you, and why do you request entry?” To which I responded: “I am Justin, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God to travel with you in His service together.” What has changed? Nothing!

These are words of tremendous comfort and challenge to those of us who are pursuing healing from the difficult part of our life story. The comfort and challenge is the same: as a follower of Jesus you are who you are in Christ. Sometimes when I meet pastorally with people, the place I am trying to get them to by the grace of God is helping them to see that this is my identity; “I am who I AM says I am.

A Christian is described in many ways in the bible, but one of the commonest ways that reality is described is that a Christian is someone who is “In Christ.” If  I am in Christ then my deepest identity is in Him. If I am in Christ then the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ says over me what He says over Him. Nowhere in the bible do I find God the Father saying about His Son that He was an accident, a mistake, unplanned for, a problem, a disappointment etc. etc. Instead I find the Father saying over His Son, “ You are my Son, whom I love and you bring me great joy!”

Whatever life has said about you, others have said over you, will you take time today to remember who you are in Christ? You are His son, His daughter, whom He loves. You bring Him great joy!

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