Brookwood Church - Love God, Love People

iAM LOVED



iAM LOVED

Josh Masters |

My greatest struggle in understanding my identity is understanding God's love for me. But when I truly believe and experience His love, it completely transforms the way I see myself.








iAM: Discovering My True Identity
iAM LOVED • Message 2
Joshua J. Masters
February 28, 2021


A. INTRODUCTION

The love of Jesus can be relied on because it’s not something He has—it’s who He is.

Love has a name and it’s Jesus.

Today we continue our series called iAM: Discovering My True Identity.

And our goal in this series is to strip away anything we believe about ourselves that doesn’t come from God, so we can pursue the purpose He has for us—both individually and as a church.

But fulfilling that purpose requires us to grab hold of our identity in Christ rather than living in the shame of our past or the labels given to us by the world.

We want our “I am” to be rooted in the Great I AM.

Last week, we talked about being rescued by God—and what His rescue of me says about who I am…

iAM RESCUED
Christ’s rescue says…
  • I am forgiven. (My identity doesn’t have to be based on my past)
  • I am made new. (It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me)
  • I am redeemed (valuable). (My life is incredibly valuable)

It’s vital for us to understand the cost and the meaning of Christ’s rescue mission to save us.

And if you missed last week’s message, I encourage you to watch it online because it lays out the foundation for everything else in the series.

But it’s impossible for me to truly live in the identity of my rescue if I don’t fully grasp WHY He rescued me.

And the answer is love.

I think our GREATEST struggle in understanding our identity in Christ is understanding God’s love for us.

Because when I truly believe and experience His love, it completely transforms the way I see myself.

So, this week we focus on believing…
A. I am LOVED.

This should be one of the easiest messages in the world to teach.

God loves you. God loves you.
That’s it. That’s the whole message.

The problem is, we don’t believe it.

More than that, we can’t comprehend God’s love for us because of our negative experiences with love here on earth.

We’ve experienced heartbreak, neglect, and abandonment from our parents, or spouses, friends, siblings, all the people we expected to love us but didn’t.

And that affects everything we believe about ourselves and our identity.

In fact, when we help people dig down to the core issues affecting their identity in Transformation Prayer or the Celebrate Recovery Step studies (starting next week),

Those identity issues are almost always wrapped up in this deep seeded belief—this lie that we are worthless, unwanted, unlovable.

We don’t believe someone can love us for who we are because no one ever has—not really.

And that’s why we grab hold of the false identities we talked about last week, to convince someone—anyone to love me, not for who I am (because that’s too risky) but for who I’m pretending to be.

All the while, we’re actually desperate to BE truly loved—to be truly known.

And when we don’t find that perfect love we desire; we’ll take whatever unhealthy scraps someone is willing to offer us.

And we get hurt again.

So, we learn that we can’t trust love.

And until we EXPERIENCE the love of God, we don’t believe His love will be any different than all the other people who have let us down.

Is His love something I can trust?

When I am in my darkest place, will I be able to depend on it?

Paul asked the same question in the book of Romans:
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
Romans 8:35 (NLT)

That’s an important question, because if our identity is supposed to be rooted in the love of Christ, what happens to our identity when we start to doubt that love?

We’ll try to find our identity in something else, right?

Well, Paul had to wrestle with that question too, but he comes to this conclusion:
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37–39 (NLT)
That’s an incredible promise.

Not only is there nothing on earth that can affect God’s love for you, but there’s no power in the spiritual realm that can damage His love for you.

Too many of us live in fear that our next mistake will strip God’s love away from us.

But if angels, demons, and even the powers of Hell can’t impact God’s love for you—neither can you.

God’s love is rooted in His perfection not your performance.

Look at 1 John:
God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 4:9–10 (NLT)
 

God’s sacrifice to rescue you didn’t come from a sense of obligation.

It was a response to His love for you.

Yet until we encounter that love instead of just reading about it—until we experience God’s love and really begin to believe what it says about who we are, we’ll continue to struggle.

So, what does God’s love say about us?

What does this unchanging, unmovable love that God has for me say about my identity and who I am.

First, it says this:
B. In Christ’s love…
1. I am COMPLETE.

This is vital because until we realize that the Father sees us as blameless and complete in His love, we will continue to feel empty and try to fill that void with whatever we can find—
--unhealthy relationships,
--food,
--drugs,
--sex,
--pride,
--work,
--anger,
--politics,
--self-hatred,
--religion.

Because we’d rather be filled up with trash than feel empty… that’s how desperate we are to be loved.

In fact, we’re so far down that rabbit hole that we think desperation and love are the same thing.

Think about some of the climactic lines in romantic comedies:

Julia Roberts in Notting Hill: “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

My Best Friend’s Wedding: “Choose me, marry me, let me make you happy.” That’s also Julia Roberts.
(She shows up a lot in this list)

Those lines aren’t romantic, they’re desperate. But we’ve confused the two in our culture.
We’ve made desperation look desirable.

And what do you think is the unhealthiest, most co-dependent line in film history?

I think it’s this:
Jerry Maguire. “You complete me.”
And what’s her response? “You had me at hello.”

Hollywood frames that as romantic, but let me translate those lines:

“You complete me” means “I don’t know who I am, so my identity will be in whatever you need me to be.”

“You had me at hello” means “I don’t care what you say or how you’ve treated me in the past… just love me.”

All those lines are reflections of our belief that we’re not enough.

It’s impossible to feel whole or complete when we’re trying to get it from someone else who is not whole or complete.

The brokenness of two people will never result in two complete people—it just doubles the brokenness.

It’s only when we seek to have God fill that void that we feel complete because He’s the only one complete enough to overcome our brokenness.

Look at Colossians 2:
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Colossians 2:9–10 (NLT)


Let’s think about that verse for a minute.

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God”

--Christ is perfect. He is God. Everything (including you) were created through Him.

Then it adds, “…in a human body.”

That’s relational. That’s what made our rescue possible and opened the door for a relationship with Him.

Next line:
“So YOU are complete in your union with Christ.”

“complete in your union” is actually all one word in Greek. It’s pleroo (pley-row) and it literally means “to be filled up to completeness.”

You are filled up to completeness with Christ.

Not based on your power or goodness but based on His power and goodness.

That’s why Paul adds, “…your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Now combine that promise with the declaration of our verse from last week:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. [Christ fills me to completion] So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NLT)


Through the love of Christ,
God sees you as complete.
You ARE complete.

Our union with Christ means God sees the finished product of our faith now because the one filling us up is perfect now.

So why do you continue to believe you’re not enough?

I think it’s because deep down inside we think God has made a mistake...

We discount our union with Christ and think that if God were to look too closely at what I’ve done, if He really knew me, there’s no way He would love me—there’s no way He would want me.

So, we avoid experiencing His love for fear He’ll realize who we really are.

But here’s the thing:
God does know who you really are.
God DOES see you—all of you.

In Christ’s love…
2. I am KNOWN and ACCEPTED.

We spend most of our lives trying to feel accepted—wanting someone, anyone to really see us.

So, we become willing to compromise who we are in exchange for a false sense of acceptance.

The counterfeit acceptance of this world says, choose one thing to be accepted for. Pick one aspect of yourself and make that your identity.

Then hide the rest of who you are because you no one’s going to accept the whole you.

So what’s that one thing going to be?
Your race, your job, your talent?

See, the problem with all these false identities is that they’re only based on ONE aspect of who we are—not the entirety of who we are.

Want to know the one that does the most damage in the church?

It’s the “Good Christian” identity. The one that teaches us to hide everything “real” about ourselves so we’ll feel accepted by the other “Good Christians” who are hiding everything real about themselves.

That’s the one that makes you wear a smile as a mask—one that’s much more restrictive than a COVID mask instead of revealing your struggles and healing your past.

But when we learn to carry one another’s burdens and accept one another as Christ accepts us, that’s when we begin to see healing communities that grow, and heal, and have an impact for the Kingdom.

But we can’t learn to accept one another until WE feel accepted by God ourselves.

Stop looking for acceptance in one area of your life. It’s not enough.

We are complete in Christ and our inner most desire is to be completely accepted.

But your political party doesn’t know you completely.
Your spouse doesn’t know you completely.
Your co-workers don’t.
Your friends don’t.
Your parents don’t.

No one can know you completely… so there will always be a part of you that doubts their acceptance of you.

We will only believe we’re known and accepted, when we experience acceptance by someone who sees every part of who we are. And that can only be God.

Our identity and purpose cannot be based on the fickle, conditional acceptance of humanity. It can only be rooted in the unconditional love and acceptance of the One who created us.

When the disciples were afraid, Jesus said this:
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.
Matthew 10:29 (NLT)

God is intimately connected with His creation. He cares about every aspect of the life He’s created.

Two sparrows cost a copper coin (or just a few cents in our language) but God knows every single one and cares when they die.

One commentator wrote, “God attends the funeral of every sparrow.”

The thing that the world puts very little value on, God cares about immensely.

And those are just birds.
Jesus continued…


…a single sparrow can’t fall to the ground without your Father knowing it…
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Matthew 10:30–31 (NLT)


Think about what that really means.

--He knows every hair on your head (or how many are missing).
--God knows every part of you,
and He still accepts you.
--He still sees you as complete.

We don’t have time for her entire story, but when Hagar was facing the darkest moment of her life (and no, it wasn’t because her name was Hagar), but when she felt completely alone and rejected, she cried out and had an encounter with God.

She still had to walk through the trial, but she suddenly had the strength to do it because no matter how much Sarah or anyone else hated her she’d experienced the acceptance of God.

And after her encounter with the Lord, scripture says this:
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 (NLT)


We spend so much time trying to hide from God, but true freedom comes from knowing He DOES see me and loves me anyway.

And I think Hagar’s question is a good one for us to ask.

She says, “You are the God who sees me.” But “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

Maybe we don’t feel seen by God because we’re not looking to SEE if He’s looking.

Maybe we’re so distracted by our treasure hunt to find glimpses of acceptance from the world that we can’t see the full acceptance that God has offered us.

You might be here this morning (or watching in our online campus) and feel invisible.
You might feel unwanted or unseen.

But you’re not invisible.
God knows you.
And God loves you just as He sees you right now.

Because God doesn’t see the imperfection of your today, He sees your perfection in eternity.

Look at this verse:
But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His,” …
2 Timothy 2:19a (NLT)

Do you belong to Jesus Christ?

Because if you do,
it’s carved into immovable stone that the Lord knows you.
The Lord sees you.
The Lord accepts you.
But even more than that… God chooses you.

In Christ’s love…
3. I am CHOSEN.

That’s so important in understanding God’s love for us.

Because I think we can trick ourselves into believing we’re not special to God.

“Of course, He knows me—He’s God.”
Right?

But when you grab hold of the truth that He chooses you—that makes you incredibly special.

Matthew 22 says “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Yes, when God sees you now, He sees your eternal perfection because you are filled to completeness with Christ, but even before you knew Christ—before you were made new… He chose you.

Look at Ephesians 1:
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. [That’s being made complete in Christ] God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
Ephesians 1:4–5 (NLT)


Look at some of the words that are used here.
God chose us.
He adopted us into His own family.
He wanted to choose you.
He planned to choose you.

It wasn’t done begrudgingly.

I think we have a tendency to believe that we choose God and then we have to convince Him to accept us. But that’s backwards.

Look what Christ said:
“You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.”
John 15:16 (NLT)


And this is all over the New Testament.

I listed seven passages in your outline that all talk about you being chosen by God.

And I only stopped there because we ran out of room.

Reflect on those passages. Meditate on those passages. Ask God what He’s saying about who you are.

The great lie of this world is that you have to find love—that your great journey in life is to convince someone to love you.
No. You are chosen.

And what are we chosen for?

The verse we read from Ephesians a few minutes ago said we’re chosen by God to be adopted into His own family.

And we use the term “child of God” to loosely in our society. You’ll hear people say, “Well, we’re all children of God.” But that’s not true.

It’s not biblical and it minimizes how God views us as adopted sons and daughters.

Yes, all people are made in the image of God, everyone was created by God so we treat them with dignity and respect—but we are not all children of God.

That title is reserved in Scripture for those who are adopted by God through faith in Christ.

That’s the identity He wants us to have.

But we continue to reject what that says about us because we keep telling ourselves…

I’m not enough.
I’m not enough.
I’m not enough.

None of us are enough when we stand before God. That’s the point.

He didn’t choose you for adoption because of your old identity…

He chose you for adoption to give you a new one.

Look at Galatians 4:3:
And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles [powers] of this world.
Galatians 4:3 (NLT)


We were like children enslaved by the powers of this world.

That was our identity before Christ.
We weren’t enough.

But that’s not the end of the passage.
We were slaves to the basic spiritual powers of this world…
But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom [to redeem] us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, [It’s no longer I who live but Christ lives in me] prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.
Galatians 4:4–7 (NLT)


So, you’re not only known, and accepted, and chosen but you are brought into the family and inheritance of God.

He says, “I not only accept you, but I want you to be part of who I am…

I want your identity to be rooted in knowing and believing I chose you as My child.”

Adoption means taking on the name and the identity of the Father.

This is how my “I am” becomes rooted in the Great I AM.
Because I am a child of the Great I AM.

He chose you.

So, stop believing the lie that you’re a nobody.
Stop believing the lie that you’re unwanted.
Or invisible,
Or incomplete.

And when the darkness makes you ask,
“Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?”

You say,
I am loved!
I am chosen!
I’m a child of God!

I’m not who the world says I am,
I am who You say I am, Lord!

Let’s worship and pray together.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39 (NLT)


God has an incredible purpose for your life—and that purpose will be revealed when you begin to live in the completeness of His love for you.

And if we can be an encouragement to you, we are here. We’ll have pastors and care volunteers down front and in the Care connection room to speak with you and pray with you.

In our Online campus, just click the request prayer button.

Let’s pray.


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