Our Mixed Up Identity

 This post is part of the teaching series Truth Un-Mixed.  If you are new to this series I encourage you to start from the beginning and read all the way through as the teachings build one upon the other.  To Find all the posts in the series click here for the Table of Contents.  May you be blessed by His Truth alone!

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If you look around at different faiths within our country and abroad most have very clear distinctions that go along with them. It is getting increasingly easy to identify what faith people have because of their distinctives that identify them, whether that be what they wear on their body, how and when they pray, or laws that they subscribe to.

Have you ever wondered why it can be hard to identify Christians here in America?  What exactly sets Christians apart, after all isn’t that what are Father called us to, to be set apart from the world? Who are we as Christians? Once we have been born again, what exactly are we born in to? And if we are indeed a new creation in Christ, why do so many of us look like everyone else around us? Further more, why do we look so much like we did before we were born into the family of God? These are important questions to ask because who and who’s we are affects how we see and interpret everything around us. And if we are mixed up about our identity, our walk of faith will also be mixed, and as a result we will be weak and unable to stand when things begin to shake under our feet.

An orphan has a lens through which it sees the world. Because they are an orphan that lens is one of neglect, need, and self-protection. These concepts order and define their world and affect how they respond to anything and everything in it. The same goes for us. We are all orphans before we become children of God. But after He adopts us He gives us a new lens through which to view the world. How that lens changes our view can result in a world of difference, let me explain.

I always saw my adoption and new birth in Christ as a personal event. It was grounded in my home life, my needs, my parents, and my christian experiences up to that point. I had a very western view of salvation, adoption, bible reading, and walking with the Lord. This is to be expected because I am a product of my surroundings. However, as you wade through scripture you will notice something. Almost every person whom God calls to himself, whom He adopts, He tells to leave where they currently are to go somewhere else. Abraham must set out towards an unknown land, Moses must go back to Egypt and then out into the wilderness to lead God’s people, Ruth leaves her land and her people to go with her mother-in-law Naomi, Esther leaves her home and moves into the Palace as one of the Kings wives, the disciples had to put down their nets and follow Him. They all had to leave, but why?

When He adopts us as His own children He needs to give us a new perspective so we can see as He sees. He has to change our lens from an orphan to a son, from self-indulgent to others focused, from led by flesh to functioning in spirit. When we say yes to becoming a child of God we also say yes to following Him. And in following Him, we enter into His story He doesn’t enter into ours.

So, if we enter into His story don’t you think we should know what that story is? Don’t you think it would be important to find out what exactly we are saying yes to? I submit to you that there are thousands of people who have said yes to God, but then refused to leave their own stories behind. They have not left and cleft if you will. Because to know Him is not to demand that He become the God that we want Him to be, but instead to submit ourselves to the God that He already is. This begs the question, who is He and what family were we adopted into when we said “yes” to Him?

Just like anyone else who traces their identity lets begin with our family tree. We know who our Father is, but do we know the rest of the family? And even more so do we know our Father as revealed to us through Jesus? Meaning, do we really know Jesus how He was or do we know Him how we imagine Him to be?  To answer these questions let’s start at the root of our family tree and go up from there. We will start in Romans 11:1 and read through verse 27. This is long but this is the history of our faith in Christ so it is worth the read.

I say then, God has not rejected His people (Israel), has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
Down to this very day.”
And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.
“Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
And bend their backs forever.”
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my ]fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

In verses 16 – 17 we find that we (non Jews or Gentiles) become partakers with the Jews of the rich olive root. That rich root is Jesus. He is the basis, the stability, the life source of our family tree. But according to Paul, this tree is not just any tree it is an olive tree. And scripture tells us that the olive tree itself is Israel, His chosen people.

I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Hosea 14:5-6

The Lord called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form. But with the roar of a mighty storm he will set it on fire, and its branches will be broken. The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal. Jeremiah 11:16

So now that we understand our root is Jesus and that the body of our family tree is Israel, now lets examine the branches. We find that some of the original branches of our family tree (being unbelieving Israel) were pruned off the tree due to their unbelief. And that some wild olive branches (Gentiles not originally from the tree) were grafted into the tree along with many of the original branches that were also grafted back in. So we, the gentiles, are wild olives and Israel is the natural or cultivated olives. We are both olives, different in form and function prior to Jesus. But after the acceptance of Jesus we become part of the same tree functioning together living and moving as one tree.
Because Israel is the tree itself the life that flows from the root of Jesus is passed through her, her land, her people, and her heritage to us. If you have looked closely at any tree you know that it’s outside bark is dead and only serves the purpose of protection. But if you scrape the dead bark away you will find a very small bright green layer hidden right underneath it. This is called the cambium layer. This is the living part of the tree that acts as the super highway passing water and nutrients that the root gathers from deep under ground out into all the branches, leaves, and fruit.

This is why God has designated Israel as the olive tree. Because it is through her that the heritage of our faith, the richness of the word, and the covenant of His people is disseminated to the rest of the body of Christ. This is why salvation has always been first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. Because The Jews were charged with the responsibility of being the tree that transfers life-giving nutrients to the rest of us. You see we are undoubtedly connected and supported through her. We can’t seek to establish a gospel message that does not include Israel because she is the very super highway upon which the richness of the gospel flows out into all the body.

Once we are born again our lens must change and consequently our identity changes as well. We have to leave behind our western mindset, fleshly ways, and the traditions of men to be willing to see the gospel through the lens of how it was intended to go forth. And to identify ourselves with our family of faith, being children of the most high King, more so than we do our country or people of origin. We must be willing to view His words from a Hebraic perspective because that is how He delivered it. We can’t take His story and manipulate it to fit into our paradigm, that is mixing. Instead, we must be willing to put our nets down so to speak, to leave life as we know it behind as Abraham did, and venture into the uncharted territory of the Gospel of our Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). It is rich with life, teaming with historic power, and He is still asking each of us the same question He asked Peter on the shores of Galilee, “will you put down your nets and follow me?

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