Tuesday, January 20, 2009
A man's identity (as well as a woman's) is based on who he is apart from what he does. Identity is a matter of character, not accomplishment, a matter of being and relating, not doing. This is apparent in the call of Jesus Christ to His disciples, as recorded in the Bible in Mark 3.14-15: "He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons." Notice that Jesus definitely called the apostles to do something: to preach the gospel and drive out demons.
But His first call was for them to be someone-His men. He wanted a mutually loving, nurturing, caring relationship with these men.
Christ's acceptance and approval of His disciples was always based on the being part of discipleship, not the doing part. The disciples enjoyed some successes in their mission. But they also experienced some failures, particularly during Christ's arrest, trial and crucifixion when "all the disciples deserted him and fled" (Matthew 26.56). Had the disciples based their identity on their performance, they would have reason to consider themselves failures.
But after His resurrection, Jesus didn't reprimand them for what they did or didn't do. Instead He met privately with them several times before His ascension to assure them that they were still His men. Then He gave them the Great Commission (Matthew 28.16-20), and the disciples successfully carried it out because they had a firm grasp on their identity in Christ.