In the last couple years I have learned to love books. I never thought I’d say that, as the only thing my brothers and I would read growing up had to include at least one of the following… rushing yards, free throw percentages or batting averages. Early this summer a friend of mine surprised me and bought me two books, Better by Tim Chaddick and The Truest Thing About You by Dave Lomas. I was really excited to read these books because both of these guys are great pastors, at two Gospel-centered churches on the West coast. Over the last couple years I have learned a lot from their sermon podcasts about the Word of God and how to better love and follow Jesus.
I dove into The Truest Thing About You first, and I haven’t been able to put it down all summer. The book centers on our identity, desires and why they matter. Pastor Lomas is a pastor at Reality Church in San Francisco, California. San Francisco is an incredibly beautiful and unique city that is driven by identity and success (much like most cities in the world - except SF is on another level). He challenges the reader to redefine our identity based on who God says we are as Christians because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Our identity rules everything about us. It dictates the cities and neighborhoods we live in, it dictates the clothes we wear, the people we hang with, the words we say, even down to the restaurants and bars that we’ll visit. This is not distinct of Western society but rather humanity has been plagued by this identity crisis ever since Adam and Eve were booted from the Garden of Eden. We can try to find our identity in so many things, even good things in this life but at some point or another they will all fail because they were never intended to be our source of identity. Pastor Lomas reminds us of Genesis 1:27, that we were created in the image of God, to be the “imago dei” or the image of God reflecting his glory.
“When humanity fell, God never took away our call to be bearers of his image. Imago Dei is for all peoples at all times. It’s who we are.” - The Truest Thing About You, Dave Lomas
A NEW IDENTITY
He shows us that as believers in Jesus Christ we are a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. He reminds us that we are deeply loved and accepted. We were created to live, work and create as a response to this identity. Too often we get this identity and response switched around, where we do all of these things in hope to get a response rather than as a response. Our daily choices, dreams and deepest desires reflect a longing to find unconditional love and acceptance. The good news of the Gospel is that because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection our identity is now that of adopted sons and daughters. It is out of this identity as children of God that we realize we are more deeply loved than we can ever imagine and the God of the universe has eternally accepted us.
One of the most impactful parts of the book for me was the answer to this simple question... Now that we know our identity is found in the truth of our adoption as children of God, how do we live this life out? Pastor Lomas shows us that anytime throughout the scriptures God calls his people to follow a specific command, to live in obedience to his word or to walk faithfully into the unknown he first reminds us of our identity (who we are).
I was reminded of this as I was reading through 1 Peter 2: 9-10.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Peter is talking to the chosen people of God who are scattered throughout the known world. He reminds them that they were once a people without an identity and in need of mercy. He then shows them their new identity in Christ. That they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation that has now received mercy. What is the purpose of this calling/identity as the people of God? He says in verse nine that this permanent identity change has taken place so that they would declare the praises of him who called them out of darkness. So before they are ever told to declare the marvelous works of God (make more of the glory of God) they are first reminded of their true identity and therefore they can live in obedience as a response to this identity.
My prayer for everyone who will read this book is that they will begin to understand, trust and believe that their true identity can only be found in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and that everything we do in life will be a response to this incredible and unchanging truth.