When you come into Christ, you are a “new creation” and the old things have passed away and everything about you has become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) But it doesn’t always feel that way, does it? We all struggle with the “old man” from time to time! Even the most godly person you know has to get victory in various ways. One of the hardest aspects of allowing the Lord to change you is changing in front of those who knew the “old man”, who saw you back “then”. Sometimes it seems like no matter how far you’ve come, it’s never far enough; or no matter how different you are, they’ll always see you the same way, doesn’t it?
In the book of Luke, chapter four, Jesus had just emerged from the wilderness, which was a powerful and deeply spiritual season of transformation and growth for Him. He had overcome the temptations of Satan, fasted for 40 days, and then, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and His fame went throughout the surrounding region. He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by everyone.” (Luke 4:14-15) What a wonderful time that must have been in Jesus’ life! Freshly empowered by God’s Spirit, sent to do His work, launching a new ministry, traveling, crowds appreciating Him, learning, growing under His teaching… But then?? “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up…” (Luke 4:16)
…you can’t define who you are in Christ by other people’s criticism nor by their praise.
Jesus returned home as a “new” person – a wiser, more mature person, victorious, with a God-given ministry, a destiny, a mission, a purpose, but as He operated in that role before the people who had known Him before, they didn’t want to hear it from “Joseph’s son“. People who had known Jesus and had seen Him grow up immediately reduced Jesus to who they had once known Him to be and dismissed His message. In response, Jesus said this, “You will surely say to Me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal Thyself’. Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country…no prophet is accepted in His own country…” (Luke 4:23-24)
No one would let Jesus move forward! Well, it’s more accurate to say that the people from Jesus’ past decided to remain where they were, while Jesus ran ahead with the mission God had given Him. The fact is, some people will never see you for who you really are. Some people will always try to remind you that you are just “Joseph’s son”. Some people will demand proof to validate that you are different (“do also here in Your country…“). Some people will never see you as any different no matter what you do. But you can’t define who you are in Christ by other people’s criticism nor by their praise. If you’re called by God then, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called.” (Ephesians 4:1) You do the work. God will do the wonders!
Thought for today
Jesus went through a season where He walked alone for a little bit when He first started to officially operate in the role that the Lord had called and anointed Him for. But soon enough, the Lord led the right people to Him, new people. People who saw Him for who He was and believed His message and wanted to be part of what He was doing. Maybe the people in your family, or your older friends can’t move forward with the “new you”, but that’s okay. Even if you’ve been in Christ for decades, there will always be people who think you are just “Joseph’s son”. Shake it off and remember that God is the only Person who validates, qualifies and defines who you are. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Your responsibility is to obey the calling of God on your life. If you truly are a “new creation”, allow the old things to pass away and move ahead knowing you are who God says you are!