“The struggle is real.” It is a phrase used ironically to make jokes (full definition here on Urban Dictionary).
For instance, if you say, “My cell phone charger cord is too short to reach the bed,” someone may reply, “The struggle is real.” Of course that struggle isn’t really real. However, as Christians, we are in very real struggles everyday. Paul says in Ephesians 6:12,
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (ESV)
What Are We Fighting For?
Last time I wrote about finding my identity in Christ alone, and I know I am not the only one who must fight to believe that truth. Whether our personal struggle sounds silly or serious to us, that struggle is real. Regardless of if we keep on building our identity on something that seems small, such as clothes or home décor, or something that seems bigger, like body image or infertility, it is still the fight to believe Jesus is the only one who gets the final say in who we are.
Establishing my identity on things other than Christ does not always look like the discouragement I talked about last time, either. Sometimes I instead swell with pride, ego inflated like the Goodyear Blimp so that from my altitude, I can only look down on others. Though that may seem like an opposite problem from the first, they are actually just two symptoms of the same problem.
Both are symptoms of the kind of problem Paul describes in Romans 1:18-25. I fail to honor God as God, allowing other things to tell me who I am instead of listening to Him. I know where I should find my identity because God has told me, yet I so often exchange the truth for a lie and look for significance in the created rather than the Creator.
How Do We Fight?
When the Holy Spirit is gracious to convict us that we are basing our identity on something other than Jesus, how do we fight to put our faith in Christ alone as the source of and ultimate authority over our identity? Fighting for something like faith often seems slippery since it is not just behavior modification. So I want to give you a few practical ways to engage in the battle.
First, ask God for faith. Faith is a gift given to us by God (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 12:3). It is not something we conjure up on our own. So it follows that if we want to grow in faith, we ought to ask the One who gives it. Be honest with Him about your weaknesses and doubts. Then beg God to help you believe that your identity is in Jesus, that it is more than enough, that there is nothing you can say or do, acquire or lose, that will change who you are in Christ.
The Bible also says that faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Did you catch that? If we want faith, we need to hear from God in the Bible. We need to regularly listen to Jesus in His Word if we are to persevere. We need to be reminded of Truth so we are able to fight the lies. And as Ashley talked about earlier this week, we need a community of other believers to remind us of Truth, as well.
“For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ.”
It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves, either in pride or shame, but we miss the point when we focus on self. Jesus is the point. Focus on Him. Consider His identity, He who is fully God but became fully man. As your eyes are fixed on Him, see if you start to care less about the worldly thing begging for your attention and realize that nothing makes sense but to define your life by Christ. See Him humbly emptying Himself, exchanging our identity for His, so that when the Father looks on us, He would see Jesus.
See y’all in the Round!