If You Weren’t A Christian, What Would Define You?

Even if I didn’t know Jesus, I am husband to Jess, father to Charlotte, Maggie, and Travis. I’m son to Dennis and Becky, a brother, brother-in-law, and uncle. I’m an American; I’m a Texan. Yeehaw. That’s my answer; how about you?

We each have marks of identity, but we also each play unique roles. Various titles describe me: I’m a professor and resident of Fort Worth. I’m a pastor (that’s weird since we’re pretending we don’t know Jesus, right?). But while these titles describe me, and help direct where my time goes, they’re not my identity. They’re roles I play.

They’re meaningful, and I hope to continue playing those roles for as long as God allows. But roles change. I don’t live where we grew up; I’ve worked for multiple churches. So my residential and pastoral roles have changed. Again, how about you?

Who We Are Vs. What We Do

OK, let’s get back to loving Jesus: “Christian” isn’t just a role we play. It’s deeper than that. Our very identity is in Christ. Because of God’s work in us, we are each sons and daughters of God. We are followers of Jesus. To take it a step further, that’s a more important identity than “spouse,” “parent,” nationality or culture, or any way we define identity.

Tweet this: “Christian” isn’t just a role we play. It’s deeper than that. Our very identity is in Christ. -@connellyben

That’s the first reason we care about everyday mission. We have a new identity, and that new identity shapes our lives. God’s gospel work doesn’t stop at the moment of change. In fact, that new identity is just the beginning of God’s work in and through us. Second Corinthians 5 explains our new identity, and reminds us that it’s only through Jesus that this is possible.

But Paul doesn’t stop there. What else does God do? He “gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” He entrusts us with his “message of reconciliation.” He calls us His “ambassadors.”

Many Bible passages that speak of salvation echo the idea that our new identity calls us to demonstrate the gospel: In Romans, the gospel—“the power of God for salvation”—also enables us to “live by faith”; In Ephesians, the same God who saves us “by grace, through faith” also calls us “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.” Throughout most of the Bible, we see that our decisions, actions, and even roles stem from that new identity.

Our identity leads us to demonstrate the gospel. This isn’t just true for the tiny percentage of Christians who actively choose to call themselves “missionaries,” who get on a plane for the more traditional picture of “mission.” It’s true for everyone redeemed by God.

Living Out Our Identity In Our Roles

Gabe and Alison are actors in The City Church, who have helped me see the dangers of defining ourselves by the roles we play, instead of the identity we have. A professor once told Alison that any play worth watching is about an extraordinary day, be it triumph or tragedy. While that may be the formula for good entertainment, Alison explains the downside: “it fosters a false expectation of reality [for actors], leaving ordinary day to day seeming like no life at all.”

Christian actors must cling to something deeper; something more real, as they rest in Christ and demonstrate the gospel in the dark world of professional theater. They can’t be defined by critics’ reviews, audiences’ responses, or roles they play—because those change every few weeks. They live out their identity in Christ, in their roles as actors.

This is true for every Christian, in every role we play. I’m paid to teach college freshmen about public speaking—or how to “talk good,” I often joke. But I cannot ignore the fact that I am first a Christian, and God’s missionary. I live out my identity in that specific role. I’m open about my faith from the first day of class. I get to know students. I try to model integrity, and to talk about Jesus when I can do so naturally.

I seek to display grace and truth—which can be especially difficult when it comes to final exam grades! Whatever we do in life, in whatever role we play, we don’t get to disregard to our deepest identity. We do business differently. How we treat others changes. The way we respond to frustration is redeemed. Our roles are renewed: they’re each opportunities to live out our faith.

Tweet this: Whatever we do in life, in whatever role we play, we don’t get to disregard to our deepest identity. -@connellyben 

[adapted from Week 1 of A Field Guide for Everyday Mission (Moody, 2014): “WHY Should I Even Care?” For related material, grab a copy here. Free sample and resources at everydaymission.net]

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, God calls you his missionary. You may never go halfway around the world. You may not raise financial support. But because of God’s gospel work in you, you are on mission: to people in your work, school, neighborhood, and those in need. As everyday missionaries, God has sent us to live out his Great Commission in the ordinary, normal, all-too-busy, and even most mundane moments of our lives.

x  But what exactly does an everyday missionary do?
x  Where and when does everyday mission happen?
x  And how can you possibly share the gospel, without killing your relationships?

A Field Guide for Everyday Mission answers these questions and more for individuals, churches, small groups, and missional communities. Many resources exist on missional theory, leadership, and stories. But based on their years of helping people tangibly demonstrate the gospel, pastors and practitioners Ben Connelly and Bob Roberts Jr. have created a resource to help ordinary followers of Jesus put the idea of mission into everyday practice.

Each day’s reading includes an immediately practicable biblical principle and ends with a few ways to help you live it out. By the end of day 30, you’ll have 101 different ways to demonstrate the gospel in your daily life. And along the way, practitioners such as Jeff Vanderstelt, Rick McKinley, and Lance Ford share stories from their unique contexts. A Field Guide for Everyday Mission is a tool designed for you, whether you’re newly considering the missional idea, have never heard the word before, or have spent years trying to figure out how to put it into practice.

Click HERE to get your copy of A Field Guide For Everyday Mission!