Nav Night Message: Identity in Christ
I gave this message at Nav Night for the FSU Navigators way back on April 5, but the audio recording just hit the Internet last night. (Adding the audio to the podcast is my job. You might say I let it slip.) It was the first and only message I gave at Nav Night during the spring 2011 semester. I was asked to teach on identity in Christ, which is by far my favorite subject to teach. This reality impacted me tremendously as a college student and continues to do so today. I absolutely love talking about it with students.
You can listen to this message online (embedded below), plus even more messages by me, other staff, and our student leaders on the FSU Navigators Podcast.
The Feeling You’ve Done Something Before
I’ve given the weekly message at Nav Night a total of eleven times. Three of those messages have been on identity in Christ. The first was way back when I was a senior in college in spring ’06 . That was the first time I’d ever taught at Nav Night. I taught it again in spring ’09 as I was nearing the completion of my second year on staff.
But it’s not just been at Nav Night that I’ve had the privilege to teach this topic. I taught it as one of the workshops at Ignite 2011 back in January, and even my workshop at the men’s retreat last fall on being a man of action went over a lot of the same material.
It’s not something I get tired of teaching. I think if I’m asked to teach it again next year I’m going to have to come at it from a different angle, if for no other reason than I’d like to continue to learn more about the topic myself.
I continue to draw inspiration and examples from Donald Miller’s Your Story Series. I pulled from episodes five and six of the series for this talk. “When I’m naked I know it” is his line, as is the idea of Adam and Eve hardly being self-aware. And if you pay attention, you’ll note I speak metaphorically about life as being a story and a narrative. Miller is the one who first got me thinking in these terms.
The backbone of the talk comes from Watchman Nee’s Sit, Walk, Stand. The book is a commentary on Ephesians and has become a favorite of mine. Not only is he the one who first pointed out to me the fact that Ephesians tells us to be seated in Christ, to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, and to stand firm against the enemy, but he’s also the one who proposed to idea that there are two types of unions a believer has when in Christ. That said, he does not compare these unions with Christ to a marriage. That’s all me.
My favorite metaphor in this talk is how lies are like elements on the periodic table. That’s not a creation of mine either, I’m afraid. It’s the intro to a song called Circus by the long-defunct band Dog Named David off their album Acoustic Canine. This is the second time I’ve used something from that album in one of my talks.
This last one is a small thing, but I think it bears mentioning. Jars of Clay has a wonderful song called Boys (Lesson One) in which the band is singing to their sons. One of the lines in the bridge is, “Not to undermine the consequence, but you are not what you do.” I love how succinctly they capture the concept of our misplaced identity. In retrospect, I wish I has stolen the entire line and not just the second half.
Attempts at Humor
Wow, okay. I told more jokes in this message than I had in any previous one, and a lot of them were terrible. To recap:
- When I’m naked I know it / Walking into Publix naked
- Doctrine of
- Where Would Jesus Sit
- Lies are like elements on the periodic table
- When I start to shake you have to wonder (seizure joke)
- Only wearing clothes for your sake
Really? I told a seizure joke? Ugh.
I got a lot of laughs when I said the two unions we have with Christ are like the unions in a marriage. I don’t understand that one. Maybe it was the way I said it.
A lot of people were extremely flattering with their praise of this message, to which I am humbled and very grateful. Luke, the campus director, even tweeted some love that night.
I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak to students further on some of the points I brought up. The message even confirmed in the mind of one student that he wants me to mentor him one-to-one beginning next fall! That’s a huge answer to prayer for me, as the man I’m currently mentoring just graduated.
What I’ll Remember
There are two things about this particular talk that I think I’ll always remember. The first is that so many of the men and women in the Wildwood Young Professionals small group were in attendance. I had mentioned it at Bible study the Thursday before and it was included in the email update that week, but I didn’t expect so many of these friends to take time out to show their support. It meant a lot.
The second thing I’ll remember is very personal. I had spent the week leading up to this talk in a lot of emotional pain. I was tormented as strongly as ever by my accuser with the familiar refrains I mentioned during my testimony. “You see! How’s that for proof that you’re worthless? No one wants to be around you! Give up!” And I let myself believe it. A couple of close friends fought for me, had courage for me, and spoke words of life over me. What I’ll always remember about this message is that I was struggling to believe God loved me. I taught what I did because I knew it was true, even though at that moment I didn’t feel like it was true.
I finished my fourth year on staff with The Navigators not long after giving this message. I’m very grateful for how God has gifted me both with an ability to teach and an opportunity to use that gift for His glory. I plan to continue to serve the ministry on their staff team as a volunteer for the 2011-12 school year. I hope to have more nights like this one, nights when the Holy Spirit speaks through me to enlighten and exhort younger believers. It’s truly one of my favorite things to do.