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Who are you? To answer this question of eternal significance, JP walks us through Philippians 3, where he encourages us to forsake the fake identities of this world —
our accomplishments, our past, and our earthly desires. The person you really are is the person you are in eternity. What matters in heaven is what you did on earth. We want to live our lives knowing our true identity as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Join The Journey: A Tour of Romans
Christmas Eve 2017
Contentment, Longing and Christmas
An Update on the Mission in Fort Worth
What a Compassionate God Wants You to Consider as Your Next Yes
Worship Together: You Are the Church
Worship Together: The Future of the Church in the Hands of Parents
Worship Together: Remember. Consider. Imitate
Worship Together: Influencing the Next Generation by Preparing Ourselves and Investing in Our Children
Do Good People Go To Heaven?
Step Up in Faithfulness, Discover and Invest Your Talents for Christ
Regretful Hearts v. Repentant Hearts
Leadership Matters…and Other Seminal Truths
The Future and Hope of Your Life and Our City
Keeping Short Accounts
Soldiers, Athletes & Farmers: A Biblical Look at the Spiritual Life
Why Your First Impression of Your Father Matters
Why Every Week is a Pastors' Conference
The End of the Search
A Spectacle of Glory: An Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada
Easter: “It is True”
Good Friday 2017
Fort Worth Raise The Mark
Seeing God as a Perfect Father
Who You Are, Eternally
Freedom from Following
Fort Worth's Opportunity... A Day We Can't Wait to See
How are we doing, church? Come on! How are we doing, church? I love it, love it, love it! Can you believe 1,700 students have been worshiping God in here the last couple of days? Amazing! Is that not crazy? Amazing! Amazing! I didn't have a D-town growing up. While my parents tried to raise me in the church, it was rebellion in college. I did not walk with Jesus in college.
I went to school in Waco (not Baylor), TSTC. It's a small technical college there. My wife went to Baylor. I was a partier in college. When we really wanted to party in college, we'd come to Dallas. One particular evening, we drove up to Dallas, and we were going to this club in Deep Ellum.
The problem was I was underage. All my boys were 21 or older, and I was not. You had to be 21 to get in this club, but we had a plan. The plan was my roommate gave me his ID. I was going to go in, use his ID. We had six people between us. Then once I got in, I was just going to pass it back. You know? We'd use the same ID. Brilliant, I know. I know what you're thinking. "These guys are geniuses."
We get up there, and the bouncer is not even looking at IDs. I hand it to him, but he looks at mine. He is searching it over. He just starts shaking his head. I'm like, "This isn't going to go well." He says, "It's says you're 5' 9". I said, "It's a typo. I'm 5' 19"." I'm 6' 7". You do the math. It works out.
He looks at it a longer time, shaking his head. My roommate was born in Iran. He was Persian and Iranian. I just hadn't thought that through very well. It's funny and sad, really. It's sad when you're trying to get into a club, you know, pretending to be someone from another country.
It's a greater tragedy when you go through this world and you go through this life embracing earthly identities, really identities bound up in a world to which you don't belong. There is such a clear calling from the Scripture that your citizenship is in heaven. It's like repeated throughout the Scriptures, "Do not find identity in the things of this world, because that's not who you are!" That is not who you are! You do not want to go through this world embracing these fake identities of earthly accomplishments, your earthly past, or your earthly desires.
That's really what the apostle Paul is going to exhort us to do today as I'm going to be in Philippians, chapter 3. We're going to talk about fake worldly IDs we are tempted to embrace and our real eternal identity. Let me ask you this question. How would you answer this question…Who are you? Who are you?
You think about that. Most people are going to say a name. You know, "My name is…" It's interesting. That's a sound your parents gave you when you were born. It's not who you are. See, it's a means to ID you, but it's not who you are. Who are you? You say,
"Well, my family is this."
"Cool. You're telling me about your family. Who are you?"
"Well, I come from this neighborhood."
"Neat. That's where you live. Who are you?"
"Well, I'm good at this."
"Those are your hobbies. Cool. Who are you?"
"Well, my family of origin…"
"Okay, who are you?"
Maybe you're like, "Well, I know, JP. I'm a child of God." Don't Jesus juke me. How would you answer this question…Who are you? Deep at your core, at your being, your existence, who are you really? A résumé? No! Who are you? That's what we're going to look at from this chapter (Philippians, chapter 3). As we travel through it, I'm teaching more thematically than verse by verse. I want to look at how you're not your accomplishments, you're not your past, and you're not your earthly desires through this text.
To set this up, Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi. He wrote it to a literal church in a literal place. Philippi was a military city. In 42 BC, the emperor of Rome had given the Philippians Roman citizenship. Here's why that's a big deal. There were about 70 million people in the Roman Empire at this time. Only 9 percent of those 70 million had Roman citizenship.
This city of Philippi would find identity in this, that all of the benefits Roman citizens had, they had. This was something they were proud of. Paul writes to this audience, which is really relevant to us as we're tempted to find identity in this earth. He writes to remind them a message I think we need this morning that we actually belong to another world. There's another world we're holding out for.
Another thing that's happening in the context of this letter is there are these people called Judaizers who say that to really believe in the one, true God, you have to have this religious merit. You have to do things. Paul writes right there to respond to this in verse 4.
"If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews." He is talking about himself. "In regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless."
He is boasting. He is bragging. He is saying, "Hey, let me tell you who is talking to you right now." We're going to see he is not boasting that he is not finding identity in these things, but let's look at what these things are in modern times for just a moment. He is saying, "Hey, you want to talk about family? I was born of the right parents. They have connections everywhere. You want to talk about education? I graduated Ivy League with honors.
You want to talk about power? I have the authority over my enemies. You want to talk about religion? I never missed a day of church. I've memorized more Bible than you've forgotten. You want to talk about discipline? I work out every day. I wake up before my alarm goes off. You want to talk about respected? Older guys ask me for advice."
Money, stuff, status…Paul wins. Who are you? Paul wins. He beats us every time, but he writes to say this. Verse 7: "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage…" Trash. The word is skubala, excrement. It's almost a curse word, a slang. It's like he is saying, "It's crap!" I use that word because he does. "It's crap to me. It's lost on me."
The first fake ID this morning is your worldly accomplishments. As we are tempted to embrace our worldly accomplishments, Paul is saying he is better than us. You could use any measuring tool you could come up with, and he is going to win. He is saying, "I no longer point to my own accomplishments but what Christ accomplished for me." He is making this big effort to detail his accomplishments not to show you that he finds identity in them but to show you he doesn't and neither should we, but we do.
You will leave here, and it will be the temptation you fall into unless we yield to the Holy Spirit in this way. This is the air we breathe. We are struggling so deeply in this way because everyone around us is struggling so deeply in this way. I'm convinced that as a culture, we can't even see it. We can't even see it! I hope God changes that in my heart and yours this morning.
Paul makes this big effort to say this. Let me give you the punch line of the message today so you can think on it, and I hope it just hits home. Who you are is who you will be permanently. If it doesn't matter in eternity, then in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter, because who you are is who you will be permanently.
What are fake IDs in this world? It could be anything. It could be what you make (your income), where you work, what ethnicity you are, what you drive, things you have, where you live, how many followers you have, the neighborhood you are tied to, your family of origin or family name, how many international trips you've been on, religious things. Right? Here's the problem. We never really stop collecting trophies, like insecure sixth graders pulling our friends into the backroom to show our honorable mention ribbons or whatever that is, right?
We never really stop collecting trophies, whether it's dead animals on the wall, good children ("Let me show you what he can do, what he learned. Let me show you his report card"), or a clean house ("Oh, you're coming over? Let me pretend like I have my life all together. Yes, I've been baking all day. It's normal"). We don't stop collecting trophies, do we? These aren't bad things. They're just not who you are.
Paul says, "All the things we're working for are crap to me, rubbish, excrement, because they won't matter a hundred years from now." We get this. We learn this lesson over and over and over and over. It's always easy to learn it backward. You know. We talked about this before. There are things in our past we found credible significance in that we don't find significance in now. I mean, it's cold outside. None of you wore your letter jacket today. I mean, you just didn't. I mean, if you did, it's okay. Discreetly take it off. I'm sorry.
That's something that was really important to you, right? But that's not what you... You're not still showing it off. Did anybody win a pageant here? Any pageant winners? It's okay. Okay, I see you. Thank you for proudly saying that. I have a couple over here. Anybody up there? Pageant winners? Okay. It's not a very good-looking bunch today.
That's great. It was a big deal once upon a time, but nobody came up this morning wearing a tiara. Let me show you this thing that was such a big deal. It's not who you are. It was this thing that happened. It was a really big deal that day. Maybe you got a week off of riding that emotional high, but it's in the past.
We don't have the foresight and maturity to realize the pageants we win today won't matter tomorrow. The games we win today won't matter tomorrow. We don't realize we're just like that high school student. Even right now at 40, 50, 60, 70 years old, however old you are, you're still playing this game trying to get the letter jacket that's not going to matter next week.
What accomplishments are most important to you right now? Can you have the maturity to say right now that, outside of knowing Jesus and making him known, it doesn't really matter? I'll say it like this. If it doesn't matter in eternity, it's not part of your identity. That's what he is saying in verse 8. "I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."
I get my righteousness from Jesus. I don't have righteousness of my own. My righteousness came to me because of Christ. "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." He is saying, "The greatest thing about me is not what I've done. It's what someone did for me. So let me point to the one who really accomplished something."
He is like, "Hey, yeah, I won the Sunday school award. Jesus came back from the dead. I mean, what am I going to do? Yeah, there are some things I had, a family I was born to, and accomplishments over here. He came back to life. Given what I can point to, I'm going to point to his works not my own over and over and over. I'm going to hold this world loosely and live for what Christ did."
My fear with us this morning, today, my fear with the church in America and even here at Watermark is we're looking at the wrong score. We're looking at the wrong score! There's going to be a day where we're humiliated by that. There was a game about a month ago where the Brown University Brown Bears were playing the Bryant University Bulldogs. The Bulldogs' freshman guard had the ball with 3.8 seconds left on the clock. The score was 91 to 90, so he dribbled out the clock.
When the buzzer went off, he threw the ball up in victory (here's a picture), except he noticed his team wasn't cheering, and the other team was. He had looked at the wrong score. He dribbled out the clock thinking they were ahead when they weren't. Can you imagine the conversation in the locker room?
Let's go here. Can you imagine the conversation in the locker room of heaven? "Hey, God. Did you see that company I built down there? Did you see what I drove? Did you see where I lived? Did you see how good my kids were, God? Did you see? Yes, I was a mother of four and had an Etsy business. That's right. Yes, I did, God. I did that for you. Yes, I did. Did you see how much I made? Did you see that? Did you see where I graduated from, my alma mater? Yeah, that's right."
It's like, "Hey, man. Come here. You're looking at the wrong score." You're thinking, "Why are you doing that?" "Did you read my Book? I gave you this so you'd look at it and you'd see those things, those accomplishments, outside of how you use them to bring me glory are irrelevant. Nobody is talking about that stuff up here." What are we doing? What are we doing? Jesus comes back to life and lives forever. Paul wants to point to that. My first point is…
1.You are identified by what Christ accomplished, not your own accomplishments. You are identified by what Christ accomplished in eternity, not your own accomplishments. In eternity, that's where it matters. The accomplishments we should be most proud of are the ones that matter there.
With whom do we share Christ? Whom do we help? How do we use the resources God entrusted to us to make this world better, really to reveal his kingdom here, to help people, things that matter in eternity? Verse 12:
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
I'm not like Jesus yet. I'm in a sanctification process. He is making me like him through my trials, tribulations, circumstances, through the broken world I live in. This is the guy who said, "…to live is Christ and to die is gain.""If I live, I will live for the sake of others like Christ. To die, I get to go home and be with Jesus."
I'm not looking backward. I'm not focused on my past and therefore disqualifying my ministry. I'm looking forward to the prize, and I'm living my life here for the sake of that prize so others would know Christ.
The second fake ID is being identified by your past. See, some of us look backward. We don't see the cross. We just see our sin. When we look at the cross, we don't see Christ there and forgiveness there. We see our sin there, and we don't realize we're new creations.
Now Paul has all the credibility in the world to say this because, keep in mind, he was a bigger sinner than you are. His sins were worse than yours are. Whatever you brought in here (the adultery, the abortion, the pornography, your pride, your self-righteousness, your grossest sin, your grossest thoughts, your grossest things, that time you stole), Paul was worse.
He killed Christians. He killed people because they were Christians. He stood there at the death of Stephen and was pleased. Then he persecuted the church, it says in the Scriptures, women and children. What a wicked guy! He says, "That's not who I am. I'm looking forward. That's not who I am." It's not just his sin, but even things that happened to him in the past. He is not so crippled by them that he can't walk forward.
Think about this. I mean, there's a whole chapter in the Bible dedicated to the terrible things that happened to this guy. I mean, people he thought were his boys whipped him 39 times as his flesh was being torn off his body. Do you remember what happened in Lystra? They beat him to the point where they thought he was dead. They dragged him outside the city and put him with the dead bodies. "This guy is dead. We killed him."
He gets up, he dusts himself off, and he marches forward. He is not like, "I can't do it anymore. They beat me. This is a deep, deep betrayal you guys would never understand. So I can't do ministry." No, he is like, "I'm going to look to the prize." You're like, "You don't know what it's like when someone you love hurts you." Paul does. Paul knows what that's like over and over and over and over and over and over.
He is like, "I have this prize in front of me. I'm going to keep running toward that." See, some of us go back to our sins for a moment. I have this conversation a lot up here. I asked somebody,
"Are you going to be in heaven?"
"I don't know. I don't know."
"I've just done some things, man. I've done some things."
I think that we think it's humble to say we can't be certain we're in heaven. "Well, that's up to God, and God is up to that. God is in control of that. I can't say. Who am I to say to God who he can let in?" It's not humble, guys. It's really, really arrogant. It's not humility. It's arrogance, because here's what's behind what you're saying.
You're saying, "Whether I get in has something to do with what I do. If I'm bad, I won't get in, but if I'm good, I will. If I hadn't done those things, then I could get in." That's arrogant! That's what's implied in what you're saying. That is not humble. Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
You say, "Well, we can't know. Cool." God is a liar then because he said in 1 John 5:13 that we can know. He says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know** that you ***have eternal life."* So if we can't know, then I don't understand why God who created all things and is sovereign and all-knowing says we can know.
You think, "Well, it's humble to say I can't know." No, it's not humble. It's not believing on the promises of God, who says you can know. You can be sure. It's not by your merit. There's nothing you did to earn it, and there's nothing you could do to lose it. Live for it if you believe it. If you know it to be true, live in that reality.
You're not bad enough to miss heaven or good enough to get there. See, here's why. Because God determined what your sins cost. He determined the value or the need to cover your sins what that debt would cost, and then he paid for it. You could say, "Hey, God can understand what my sins cost," or you could say, "He can't."
You have no other options, because he cannot see something he has already filled with payment. He can't see a debt he has already paid, right? If he has wiped away the debt, then he can't look at you and see the debt. He has already paid the debt. That's what happened on the cross. Christ's radical forgiveness doesn't belittle your sin; it magnifies his amazing grace. You write that down. Christ's radical forgiveness doesn't belittle your sin; it magnifies his grace. Let me explain what I mean.
We've already established I was a moron in college. On this one particular moronic episode, I was underage (again) drinking on Baylor's campus and got arrested and really was made an example of. I mean, I went to jail and all of this. Those Baptists do not like you drinking on their campus underage, okay? That's what I learned through that experience, which is good. I appreciate that. I appreciate that about you guys. I was the idiot; you were in the right.
I remember when I had the courage to tell my parents and we began to walk through this, the conversation centered around my record. I didn't even really know what a record was, but it just sounded like this thing that, "This has to come off, because for the rest of my life, I'm going to have to wear the scarlet letter. I'm going to have MIP tattooed on my forehead. I'm going to be at a job interview like, 'Yes, I'm here. JP, proficient in Microsoft Word. By the way, I have to tell you I had an MIP in college at Baylor. It was messy. I was drunk, got arrested.'"
It was like this thing was going to follow me in front of me, so my parents were like, "Hey, we have to get this off your record. We need to make sure this doesn't go on your record." We didn't have much money, but the money they had was put forth to making sure this didn't go on my record. I remember the day we got to celebrate it didn't go on my record. It's not that I didn't do the thing. It's not that it didn't happen. It's not that I didn't participate in it. It's that I didn't now any longer have to pay for it or have it be held against me, because it's not on my record.
Is that not the gospel? Is that not what God is saying? He is like, "Oh, that adultery happened, but Christ… It is not on your record. Because it's not on your record in eternity, therefore it's not on your record. That pornography, that abortion, is not on your record. It's not that you don't ever have to not talk about it… Let me say it like this. A couple of negatives there.
You can talk about it. You're free to talk about it and use it as a message for the sake of the gospel. It's just not who you are. It's not on your record. Christ took it off your record. It's not who you are. It's not your identity because…
2.You are identified by Christ's payment, not your past. Verse 15. Paul is looking forward to the prize. "All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." This is a mature way of thinking that you live for eternity, not for the world. This is what mature believers do. At some point, we're all going to realize this.
"Only let us live up to what we have already attained." This prize he talks about in earlier verses we've already obtained, and we're running toward it at the same time. I know that seems confusing when you combine verses 14 and 15. There's this prize we receive that we're running toward, and we got the prize.
It's like this. Let's say you're in a race, and you're at the starting line. The starter (the guy with the gun) steps down from the platform, comes to you, and says, "Hey, everybody else has been disqualified. You win. We just still need you to run the race, but you won. Okay? You're going to win. You get the prize. You won the race. We just need you to finish. Your time doesn't matter. Ready? On your mark, get set, go."
You're running. You're running, waving to your friend. "Hey, friends and family." You're running. You're running. You're running. You trip. You fall. Now you're down. You don't start to beat the pavement and say, "Oh, I've failed! I lost! I'll never win!" No, you already won. Get up! You're a runner, not a faller. You're a runner. Why would you sit down when you've fallen like that's who you are, like you're a faller? You're not a faller; you're a runner.
The prize is already yours. You're already obtained the prize. The prize is promised to you. You're going to receive it, not just have it for a moment, but have it for the rest of the moments, the moments in eternity moments, forever moments. That's your prize. What are you doing on the ground? Get up! Get off the ground and run. You're a runner. You have the prize. Live up to the prize you've already won.
Verse 17: "Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears…" Okay, let's just talk about what's happening here. Paul is writing this letter to these people he loves. As he is writing this letter, the emotional gravity, the weightiness of the words he is writing, he begins to weep.
The words on the page become blurry. He is like, "Guys, I have to tell you something." This is where we lean in, and we listen. He says, "As I begin to cry because I'm telling you this with tears in my eyes…" "…many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.""We know. We know, Paul. ISIS is an enemy of the cross of Christ." No, no, no, no. Not ISIS. No, they're in the church. They're here today, enemies of the cross of Christ.
"Their destiny is destruction…" He is saying they're going to hell. They're going to be separated from him for eternity. "Tell us about them, Paul. How do we see them? How do we know who they are? Describe them to us." "…their god is their stomach…" What does that mean? They worship with their appetite. Whatever they want, they do. They feed their preferences.
The hunger pangs of discomfort are satisfied by the every pursuing of the urges of their flesh. "If I want that, I'll buy it. I'll live there. I'll go there. I'll experience it. I'll taste it. Whatever my flesh desires, I will feed. I will not abstain at two in the morning because of discomfort. I will not fight. I will not wage war. I will feed my every desire and follow my every preference and march on as an enemy of the cross of Christ."
"…their glory is in their shame." What does that mean? They are entertained by the things for which Christ died. They are amused by the music, the movies, the scenes, and the images, the things for which Christ died. They are entertained by what will happen today at halftime. As it crushed your God on a cross, "…their glory is in their shame."
"Man, you won't believe what I did, who I did, where I did…" The locker-room conversation. "…their glory is in their shame. Their mind…" Okay, so in this description, he says this. This is the one I want you to hear. "Their mind is set on earthly things." He is describing these people who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and he says they wake up thinking about the things of this world. They're not focused.
This is the air we breathe, man. I'm telling you we can't even realize how swept away we've been by this cultural current. They wake up thinking about the troubles of today and the things of today and the stuff and the status and the trinkets of today, not the things of eternity. This is what is consuming their mind.
The third fake ID is your earthly desires. ** ** Your earthly desires! When you are identified by your desires, like, "I'm a food person. I like food. I'm a foodie…" "I love shopping." "I kind of picture myself as a Gossip Girl or a Gilmore Girls girl or a Sex and the City girl." Not me, but maybe some of you. "I'm a leg guy." No, you're a dumb guy. You're an earthly desires guy.
We are not identified by our earthly desires. "I'm a watch guy." No, you're not. That's not who you are. There are no watches up there. There's no time up there. What are you talking about, you're a watch guy? What? You're identified by your trinkets? No! That's not who you are! You know, "I'm this brand." No, you're not. You're that brand, eternal brand, God brand, Jesus brand. What are you doing?
It talks about people feeding their preferences, cannot stomach discomfort. Your hunger pangs of desires are overwhelming, whether it be your sexual identity, the deal you'll do anything to get, your drunkenness, your substance abuse, or your pornography you describe as a struggle when it's really a weekly trap you fall into and give into because you're not waging war. You're carrying it with you in your pocket. You haven't even begun to fight.
You're just saying, "I'm struggling well," but no, you're not struggling at all. You're falling victim to. What he is saying here is there's no place in eternity for you unless you repent and you receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ that washes you clean and makes you new and informs your identity. Your citizenship is no longer on the earth but in heaven. You can be forgiven right now and be with him forever.
But stop. Stop embracing a fake, earthly identity. It's not who you are. Verse 20: "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control [he is Lord, he is God] , will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
That's how this ends, man. The sky cracked open, rolled back like a scroll. Jesus Christ, coming for us, to rescue us. Who are you then? What are you holding onto then? Where are you finding identity then? What do you have in your hand? "Can I bring this with me?" What are you doing then? Who are you then in that moment?
3.You are identified by your eternal destination, not your earthly desires. You're identified by where you will be forever (our citizenship is in heaven), not your earthly desires. See, the truest thing about you is where you will spend eternity. Let me say that again. The truest thing about you is where you will be forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.
Okay, big statement. What does that mean? You might tweet it. Let me explain it. Let me explain it! Everyone here, brace yourselves for this truth. You were all born. That's right. You were all born, 0 years of age. You were a baby, and you lived a life. You will live a life. You're living a life. There is a sum total of time associated with your existence on this earth, and you will die.
The average in America is 78 years of age. If you're here and you're older than that, we're glad you're here. I'm glad you're still doing effective ministry and listening. On average, that's how long we'll have. All of us exist somewhere in there, in between those two days: birthday and death day. We're somewhere in between.
As for me, I'm 36 years of age, so about halfway in between, God willing. That's where I'm at today. Right? If you ask me who I am, what we always do (hang in here with me) is we say we are the person we are right now when you ask. If you ask a 16 year old who they are, they say with great finality, "This is who I am." They begin to describe. "I go to this school. I'm hoping to get this car. I just got my driver's license. This is who I am."
You can't really see. They're not thinking about who they're going to be when they're 36. "This is who I am." You've done that, and you think right now, "This is who I am," but you're not who you are yet. You're not who you are! Does that make sense? No one is like, "Wait. Who are you?" "Well, when I was 3." That's not what we do. We have this really limited focus of who we are. It's in this time and space. It's confounded by time and space.
As I said, I was an idiot in college. Do you ever have this experience I have where you wish you could go back and talk to that person? Have you ever done that? You're like, "Man, I wish I could go talk to my 18-year-old self." Oh, just me? Okay. Let me pray then. We'll get out of here. No. I mean, come on. Have you ever had that experience?
You want to go back. Like me, I would stand in that line and say, "Hey, buddy. This is not going to work out well for you. Your Persian roommate doesn't even look like you. What are you thinking?" Or there on the campus of Baylor, it's like, "Buddy, hey, let's not do this. Let's cut this out. You're trashing your life. Stop it!"
Do you ever wish you could go back and talk to that person? I do, right? You see yourself as those times and spaces we exist in, and it's easier to look back. It's very difficult to look forward that there's some future version of yourself that wants to talk to you right now. Can you get your head around that? Some future version of you would love to talk to you right now and say, "Hey, man, I know you're tempted to find identity in these accomplishments, in your past, and in your earthly desires, but that's not who you are."
Now if you can get your head around with me that who you are is kind of this grand sum total of your life… What they say about you at your funeral is going to be really who you most were, right? No one is going to stand at your funeral and say, "Well, when she was 3…" Or, "When she learned to walk…" That's not what they're going to do. They're going to say, "This is who we knew."
They're going to talk about the sum total of your life, who you most were. The problem with that is as followers of Jesus Christ, we don't see life in the context of just this world. We see life in the context of forever, that you're an eternal being. You're going to be forever and ever and ever. If we can agree (if you'll nod your head) that, "I am who I most am," then you are not who you are yet. You're becoming who you are, who you most are, forever and ever and ever and ever. It's who you will be a thousand years from now.
Who you most are, in eternity, that's who you really are. You really are the person who exists in eternity. Now imagine if that person 1,000 years from now could go back and talk to you today. What would they say? They're going to say, "Those accomplishments? Nobody is talking about them up here. No, that's cool. You built a business. That thing you do on Etsy is cute, but nobody is talking about that up here. Nobody cares a thousand years from now.
Your kids, man, are really good in school. That's neat. Quarterback of the football team and all that. That's neat. Nobody cares up here. It's like that letter jacket tucked away, sold in a garage sale. That's how those things are up here. It doesn't matter up here. Cool." Then you would talk. You might ask, "Well, what matters up here?" "What you did for up here. That's all that matters up here. It's the only thing that matters up here."
Here's the good news. Anything you do down there can be leveraged for up here (those grades and that job and the way you worked). That can be leveraged for up here if you do it for the why of up here, but if you do it for the why of down there, it's meaningless. It's futile. It's rubbish. It's rubbish! It's trash.
What does God do as he is checking, that bouncer checking ID? He doesn't say, "Okay, let's talk about your accomplishments." No, he says, "Let's talk about Christ's accomplishment." He doesn't say, "Well, let's talk about your past." No, he says, "Let's talk about Christ's payment." He doesn't say, "Well, let's talk about your earthly desires." No, he says, "Welcome to your eternal destination."
Every now and then we have experiences here that remind us of this, and I had one this week. We went and saw a movie. Lion is the name of it. I highly recommend it. It's about a boy in India, and he gets lost and put into kind of the adoption circuit of India. It's a movie that advocates adoption.
At the end of it, there's this (I'm not giving anything away) screenshot, this number on the screen, this 80,000 number on the screen. It represents children abducted in India every year, taken by people who can saw out their organs, put in sex trafficking or human slavery as children. Eighty thousand Westons, Presleys, and Finleys. The number just messed with me, and I couldn't shake it.
I got in the car, and Monica said, "Are you okay?" I said, "I'm not okay. I'm not okay. I'm not okay, and I'm glad I'm not okay." I said I just feel like I'm wasting my life when I see a number like that, and I'm going to go home to my house with central air and heat, my hardwood floors, my truck, and my foam mattress bed. I'm going to sleep in the comfort of my home, and I don't care about those 80,000 kids. I don't care about them!
Another number I tripped over this week was 21,000. Twenty-one thousand people will not see the sunset today. They woke up. They won't see the end of this day because they didn't have food to eat. Twenty-one thousand today will die. Another number we talk a lot about here because it's some of Todd's life work is 58 million. It's the number of babies who have been killed in the womb since Roe v. Wade. Fifty-eight million lives!
I just have a feeling that those numbers are going to matter in eternity much more than savings accounts and promotions and much more than trinkets and treasures and how many shoes we have. Those numbers are going to matter. What did we do with those? Those are the things the saints in eternity are talking about. What did we do with that? We're so swept up by our earthly accomplishments, our pasts, and our worldly desires that we don't care. We have to care. I'm going to pray that we care.
Father, help us care. This is the air we breathe. We don't even know how lost we are on this map, how swept up by our culture we've been, how consumed by ideas and ordeals and ideals we have been so we don't even see what matters to you. Would you give us your heart, Lord? Help us to love what you love and hate what you hate, to embrace what you embrace, and to oppose what you oppose. Make us courageous to set aside our lives, understanding to live is Christ and to die is gain that we would live for you. Father, would you help us to live for you?