It was one of those days when our internet wasn’t functioning well and several of us were working from home. Texts began flying: “Are you having trouble with your connection? What’s going on with the internet? I keep dropping off my calls! Is someone downloading a big file?”
I decided that a call to the internet company was in order. Certainly, the issue must be with them.
After explaining our situation, the company representative assured me that the problem was not on their end. She tolerated my ongoing questions, finally stating, “It seems you’ve got something running in the background that’s significantly slowing down your connection.”
That response didn’t help me solve the issue, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about, and not just in relation to our internet.
Something running in the background
Our minds can be like a congested network with too much running in the background. Along with information overload, we are bombarded with messages that impact our ability to process and discern well. Our thoughts can become tangled with judgment, fear, worry and anxiety, slowing down our ability to think clearly, causing interference in our connection with Jesus and distorting our identity in him.
How do we eliminate the noise around us and the clutter running in the background within us to stand firm in our identity in Christ?
We must hear his voice!
Pete Greig in How to Hear God describes it as “one of the most astounding yet confusing things you will ever learn to do.” He continues, “The Bible says that you were created to enjoy a real, conversational relationship with God. Hearing his voice is therefore the most natural thing in the world . . . [yet we] so consistently and reassuringly get it wrong.”
And John Mark Comer emphasizes that “hearing God’s voice is the key to everything.”
Testing our thoughts
Not every thought or voice in our heads should be trusted as accurate. God indicates, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Jesus described the devil, the prince of this world, as one who has no truth in him; he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). And King Solomon laments, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).Not every thought or voice in our heads should be trusted as accurate. Click To Tweet
Getting our thoughts aligned with God’s wisdom and his ways requires insight and effort. We are not to passively conform to the world around us, but to be actively engaged and transformed in the renewal of our minds, testing our thoughts, discerning God’s good, acceptable and perfect will (Romans 12:2). We are to be alert, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Testing our thoughts is an essential daily practice to ensure that faulty thinking and sinful attitudes are not running in the background. In conversation with Jesus, we can simply ask, “Lord, does this thought align with who you are and who you say I am in you, or not?”
Tapping into the power
Contrary to cultural messages, we can’t accurately define or grow into our identity through our own thoughts (what we think to be true about us). Rather, we become alive in our identity through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who is with us forever, teaching us God’s ways and guiding us into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). It is insight from the Holy Spirit that gives us everything we need to know about who God is, who we are and how we can live wisely and well in right relationship with him.It is insight from the Holy Spirit that gives us everything we need to know about who God is, who we are and how we can live wisely and well in right relationship with him. Click To Tweet
The practice of turning to God and bringing our thoughts into the light, especially with a few trusted and prayerful companions, positions us for the transformational presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Like the psalmist, we can pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23, 24, NLT).
A clear connection
A weakened identity in Christ has nothing to do with a problem on God’s end. Jesus has already accomplished everything for us to be living in the fullness and freedom that is ours in him. Like a network connection, the best way to boost our identity in Christ is to be hard wired into our Source—intimately connected with Jesus.
Worship (centering our thoughts on Jesus) and knowing Scripture (immersing our thoughts in God’s Word) are two of the most effective practices I observe for us to come alive in our identity in Christ.Worship (centering our thoughts on Jesus) and knowing Scripture (immersing our thoughts in God’s Word) are two of the most effective practices I observe for us to come alive in our identity in Christ. Click To Tweet
What could be a next step for you to love and worship Jesus with all your mind and stay intimately connected with him? How could you more effectively rehearse the truth of who God is and who he says you are? What Scripture verse(s) could you memorize to help you stand firm in your identity in Christ?
A mind like Jesus
Jesus stayed steady in his identity despite lies from Satan and conflicting ideas, expectations and messages from the people around him. He didn’t claim special privileges but chose to live with humility, always seeking his Father and living in obedience to him (Philippians 2:7, 8).
Like Jesus, we are sons and daughters of the King, and we have been given everything we need to have a mind like Jesus, resolutely believing who God says we are and living from that most amazing position to bring the power of God’s presence and goodness to the world.
Keeping the connection clear
When it comes to identifying what’s slowing down our connection with Jesus, it’s assuring to remember we can go to him and his Word to hear his voice, test our thoughts and tap into his power to boost our identity in him––to be hard wired into our Source, Jesus.
And in case you were wondering about our internet connection, we never figured out what was running in the background. But we all started paying more attention to the management of our devices to keep the connection clear!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
Dr. Sharon Simmonds
Vice President of Programs, Arrow Leadership