For the follower of Yeshua the most important quest is to attain to our identity in Messiah. It is this quest that makes up our life as a true disciple to have our identity to be as our Master and Teacher. It is not enough to be a “believer” but the calling is to be a disciple. In His final words to the disciples Yeshua called his followers to
“go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, New International Version)
and we should seek to be disciples and make others into disciples and that requires us to build up our identity in Messiah.
One of the most powerful ways to attain our identity in Messiah is to model our Master by walking in obedience to God’s commands. In John 14:15-17, we read,
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.”
It is in living according to God’s commands that we build our identity in Messiah and model our Lord who was
“obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).
As we model Messiah’s obedience we are promised the empowering of the Spirit of God to strengthen us to be more obedient and continue to build our likeness to Messiah. It is this empowering of the Spirit that can help us to fully embrace a Messiah-like life and grow more like Yeshua. Rick Warren (2002) addressed this when he wrote:
Messiahlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow Messiah to live through us. “For this is the secret: Messiah lives in you.”‘ How does this happen in real life?
Through the choices we make. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us his power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking. (p. 108)
The fullness of our identity in Messiah is when we fully give over our life to Him and we live our life solely for and through Him as Paul states in Galatians 2:20,
“I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
This giving our lives fully over to Messiah is modeling His complete surrender to His Father and His obedience that led to the cross and future glory as we read in Philippians 2:6-11:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Messiah Yeshua is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This life of obedience and self-sacrifice help us to model Messiah and in doing so we truly become ourselves and the ones that God intended for us to be as we assume our identity in Messiah to the exclusion of other false identities that keep us from living in Messiah (Veilleux, 2010). It is in becoming in Messiah that it ceases to be us seeking to live like Messiah but it is Messiah living through us. The height of achieving our identity in Messiah is our becoming like Yeshua so fully that we live out Paul’s words of
“Messiah living in us” (Galatians 2:20).
It is in Messiah living in us and our taking up of our Master’s life that we can fully grow in our identity in Messiah. In Messiah living in us and through us this also means that we die to the world and it’s false system (De Beek, 2008 p. 30).
A fully developed identity in Messiah is a lifelong giving up of ourselves to Messiah and no longer living our own lives but living our lives through Him and empowered by the Spirit of God as a true disciple. This is the quest to truly be a disciple that is a true model of our Master and as Yeshua is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) may we seek to be devoted towards the goal to be the exact representation of Messiah as much as we can in this world.