Who We Are

I love the book of Ezekiel. If you haven’t read it, the overarching message is one of warning and admonishment to the Israelites; God’s chosen people. The nation has seen top-down wickedness and a falling away from the Lord. Ezekiel is God’s mouthpiece to preach repentance in the face of a dark and desolate culture. Sometimes God has Ezekiel do seemingly weird things to make a point (usually through physical displays). Sometimes Ezekiel gets a vision from the Lord and then passes down what he’s been shown. In every circumstance, the book holds back no punches as God’s will and plan for His people are clear: He desires them to be holy. They have not upheld His standard and therefore, He allows events to happen to them. Bad things. God’s wrath for Israel’s sin becomes a very real thing in their lives.
 
You might say, “Hmmm sounds like a fun read Derek. I’ll be sure to check that out.” (Sarcasm noted, haha.) Well, it’s not necessarily the part just described that makes me like Ezekiel so much. No it’s the payoff that comes if you continue to follow the whole story. By the end of book, God’s heart for His people is clear and His desire to restore them and bring them back to Himself is just as real as the wrath they encounter.
 
God is the perfect balance of justice and love. It’s His kindness that leads us to repent for the sins we have committed against Him. In taking the context of Ezekiel 36 and bringing it into our current day, I believe the desires God has for His people are clear. It is the love of God that brings about those desires as He restores, transforms, and equips us. We are all in that process continually as it’s repeated throughout our lives from day-to-day. It never stops this side of eternity but it’s good to know that it’s all preparation for our time with our Lord in Heaven.
 
I believe we need reminders of the character we are called to in Christ. Identity statements of who we are in Him. These “Who We Are” statements are the nuggets I believe God showed me as I read Ezekiel 36 and I pass them along to you today as an encouragement.
 
1. We are demonstrations of holiness
 
“The nations will know that I am Yahweh — the declaration of the LORD God — when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23
 
What is remarkable to me (and it should be to you as well), is that God chooses to display the traits of Himself (His holiness, His righteousness) through us. It is not our own holiness or striving to be “right” that He uses. It is His mark upon us that reflects who He is to a world that otherwise wouldn’t see Him. Ancient Israel in its wickedness was a poor reflection of God’s holiness. Truth be told, God did not want His name taken through the mud by the acts of His people. He set them on a course of judgment which led to repentance and finally a pouring out of His Spirit once again.
 
2. We are pictures of transformation
 
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
 
A new heart and a new spirit. We are not what we once were. Are we perfect? No. But we are being transformed and sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit upon our lives. Again, this is a daily process. We long to be in the place where we no longer struggle with the things that we know are not God’s best. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad God is patient and loving! He knows we still mess up, but He does not give up on us. We should not give up on ourselves either. We are being transformed.
 
3. We are inhabitants of beauty
 
“The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of everyone who passes by. Then they will say: This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden. The cities that were once ruined, desolate, and destroyed are now fortified and inhabited.” Ezekiel 36:33-35
 
Something wonderful begins in our lives when we choose to follow Christ. It’s not always apparent in the moment, but over time it shines through. We are beautiful creatures when we start returning to the ideal that God intended. The Garden of Eden was perfect in God’s design and Adam and Eve had complete union and fellowship with the Lord. Sin marred that fellowship. But God did not deviate from His original plan. He still longed for closeness with His creation. When we return to the Lord and allow Him to start “rebuilding” the ruins of our lives, beauty emerges. Again, it’s a testimony to the world and those around you cannot help but take note.

For some reason, it seems like the last few weeks and even couple months of blogs have been centered on these themes of identity and purpose. I don’t think that has been an accident as God has been leading these conversations from week to week. In complete honesty, these are the thoughts I’m having from moment to moment in my life. When I have a chance to really pull away and let God speak (as He did through Ezekiel 36), I get a sense for His heart. He loves us with a love like no other. When we surrender our lives to that love and live out our lives with reckless abandon to Him, we can set the world on fire. Dear brother and sister, I hope you have a greater understanding today of who you are in Christ and that you will take that assurance into every circumstance you face today.

Be blessed. I love you and am praying for you.
 
I can be reached at info@derekcharlesjohnson.com

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