Rick Warren - Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Identity
It's good to see you guys. All right, have a seat. Have I told you lately that I love you? I do. If you take out your message notes inside your program. I've been on the road most of the summer, three or four different continents. Thank you for sharing your pastor, with other churches around the world and other pastors. One of the great tasks of life is figuring out who you are. What's your identity? Discovering who God made you to be? That's one of the fundamental tasks of life. Why on earth and what on earth am I here for? How you see yourself affects everything else in your life. How you see yourself, your identity, affects your relationships. It affects your happiness. It affects your stress level. It determines your success level in life. It just affects everything, your connection to God is profoundly influenced by how you see you.
What is your identity? And now this search for your identity starts early on in life. It starts way back in school, and you're trying to figure out who am I and what am I and what am I supposed to be? And how am I supposed to act? And it starts in school, but it can continue on the rest of your life. Now this week, our students in our Saddleback Church family are all going back to school. And they're gonna be hit with challenges and issues that challenge their faith. And they need to be prepared for it. And parents need to be prepared to answer the challenges and issues to their faith that are gonna happen. And as they're trying to figure out what their identity is.
So this week, we're gonna start a new series. Then we're gonna go a little mini series here that I'm calling talking to kids about stuff that matters. But really, it's for grown up kids too. Because you need to know how to answer these questions. You need to know for yourself, what do we believe in and why do we believe it? And you need to be able to pass it on to the next generation, whether you're a brother, a sister, an aunt or an uncle or a friend of a friend of a student. So this series is called talking to kids about stuff that matters. But I wanna begin with don't let anyone steal your identity. And the reason why is because identities get stolen all the time. Satan is constantly working in a spiritual battle to keep you from knowing your true identity. He's working overtime. And he uses all kinds of tools to keep you from knowing who you are. He uses first the opinions of other people.
What your parents say about you, what your peers say about you. What your partner says about you. What professionals say about you. And he's always trying to use other people's opinions to shape and conform you to what other people think you ought to be rather than what God says you ought to be. He uses hurt and pain. Hurt and pain never leave you where they find you. You start in one area, but you end up over here. And it can profoundly affect your identity. He uses the media. And today he uses social media. Because you get on social media and you see everybody living their so called perfect life. And you think how come I don't look like him or her? Why don't I have that, and why don't I do that and this competitive, always comparing yourself feels like you're being left out. Satan's using that to keep you messed up in your identity. He suggests thoughts in your mind. It's called temptations. And he and he says stuff to you.
But the number one way Satan keeps you from discovering your true identity in Christ is lies you tell yourself. You lie to yourself all the time. And you tell yourself stuff is good and stuff is bad. And oftentimes you're not really a good judge of you. Because you can't see yourself from an objective position. You're intensely involved in you, obviously. And so you tell yourself stuff all the time. If you go around telling yourself, I'm uncoordinated. I'm dumb, or I'm ugly, or whatever you tell yourself. You're talking to yourself. You're talking to yourself right now. You have a constant stream going on in your mind, you're going, now is what Rick saying interesting to me. Because if it is I'm gonna listen. If it's not, I'm going to tune out and think about something, how hungry I am or whatever. I am kind of hungry right now.
So how do I know who I am? How do I know who God made me to be? Well, there's a great philosopher named Pascal. See if I can find that quote here somewhere. He said something really great. I know he did. Well, maybe I'll tell you later. Here's what he said. The only way you're ever gonna know yourself is by knowing God through Jesus Christ. He said, we only know God through Jesus Christ. We only know ourselves through Jesus Christ. We only know the meaning of our life through Jesus Christ. We only know the meaning of our death through Jesus Christ. It is in Christ we know ourselves. Now that's not particularly a new idea. It's been in the Bible for thousands of years. Look up here on the screen. The Bible says this in Colossians chapter one, verse 16. Everything, absolutely everything got started in Christ, and finds its purpose in him. The only way you're ever gonna know who you are, and what your purpose is in life is in Christ 'cause he created you. You didn't create you so you can't tell you what your purpose is.
Now that little phrase there, in Christ, is one of the most important phrases in the Bible. In the New Testament, it is used 89 times. In Christ, in Christ, in Christ, in Christ. And the phrase in him is used 79 times. We call ourselves Christians today, the word Christians only use like twice in the entire Bible. It's not used very much at all. Instead of believers being called believers or disciples or followers of Jesus, or Christians. In the Bible, the most common term for being a follower of Christ is I'm in Christ. In Christ, what does that mean? Well, of those 89 times it says that you are in Christ, 35 times it tells you what your identity is, because you're in Christ. Now we don't have time to go through 35 different identity factors of your life. But today Kay and I are gonna take you through four. You're getting Kay today, you get a double header. Okay you get a double header, what can I say? And so we're gonna take you through just four of the 35 marks of your identity. You picked a good week come to church.
Okay so write these down, they're very important. This phrase in Christ is used 89 times. As I said in hin is used 79 times. Now let me show you another verse. In Ephesians chapter one, it says this. It is in Christ, there's that phrase. And whenever we see this phrase, today, I want you to circle it on your outline. It is in Christ, that we find out who we are, that's identity, and what we're living for, that's purpose. If you wanna know your identity in life, and you wanna know your purpose in life. The only way you're ever gonna know it is by talking to the Creator who made you. God was in Christ in crisis and God, God made you. You can't tell yourself who your purpose is, because you didn't make you. So if you look for your identity in other people, you're not gonna find it. It is in Christ, we find out who we are. And it is in Christ, we find out what in the world we were made for? What's our purpose in life? So we're gonna look at four those. So let's just deal with four, who are you in Christ? You need to learn these in your own life. And then you need, as I said, pass them on to the next generation.
Number one, here's the first characteristic. I want you to think of these four things is like a table with four legs. That your identity is built on four different pillars. And if you get these in your life, you're gonna have a stable life. Okay, pillar number one, in Christ. The Bible says this, I am chosen, loved and accepted. In Christ, I am chosen by God, loved by God and accepted by God. Now, those are three things we all want in life. We all wanna be chosen, we all wanna be loved, and we all wanna be accepted. Well you already are, by God himself.
At first, these are the three foundations, the first pillar of true self worth. To feel good about yourself a true self identity. The first you're chosen, here's what the Bible says. In Ephesians chapter one, verse four, and five. In Christ, there's that verse, or that phrase, God chose us, before the world was made so that we would be his holy people. Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children, through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and that's what pleased him. The Bible says God created the entire universe, because he wanted a family. God wanted children to love. The whole reason the universe exists, is God wanted children to love.
Now, let me ask you this question, according to this verse, When did God choose you? Look at it real close? When did God choose you? Where and when? Yeah, before the world was made, you might underline that. If you grasp this, you'll never again have a problem with low self esteem. The Bible says that before God chose to create the sun he had already chosen you. He knew is gonna make you millions of years before he made you. Before God chose to create the universe, he had already chosen you. In fact, that's why I decided to make the universe. He wanted a place where you could live. Before God created the world, before God chose any tree, he chose you. Before God chose the oceans, he chose you. Before God chose every rock that exists, he chose you.
Last week, we were up in Canada, and I actually got to walk out on a glacier. It was really cool. Before God created that glacier he chose me. He chose you. That ought to make you feel a little bit better about yourself. That you were chosen before anything else was created. God says, I want this person to exist. So I'm gonna create the environment that that person will exist. That requires enormous amount of planning. You're not only chosen first before the moon and the stars, God chose you, that shows you how important you are. God chose you, you're not only chosen first, you're chosen by God. Now this is the antidote to every child's worst fear. And the worst fear of every child is to be chosen last on a team.
You know, when they say, okay, we're going out to recess and we're gonna play soccer, play softball. And you guys are two captains, you go, oh please don't let me be chosen last. The shame, the dishonor as the crowd gets smaller as well, they still haven't chosen me, they still haven't chosen me. And nobody wants to be like, you're not the last chosen, you're the first. That's how much God says you matter to him. You were chosen before God chose any bird. Before he chose any animal. Before he chose to make it. He said, I'm gonna make all these other things because I'm gonna make you. That is the foundation of your identity. Now, not only that, there's more. Because you're not only chosen, you're loved. That's why it says God did it because of his love. You are loved.
Look at this verse on the screen, Ephesians one verse four, oh that's First Peter 2:9. You've been chosen by God long before he laid down the Earth's foundations. He says that again. Before the earth was even created. God had us in mind. And he settled on us as the focus of his love. You realize that God is focused on you. You're not focused on God. You're rarely focused on God. God is focused on you all the time. Can God focused on everybody same time? Yeah, why? He's God. There is never a moment of your life when God is not focused on you. You're not focused on him, but he's focused on you. He sees every high low, every good bad, every hill, every valley. Every tear, every joy. There's never a moment in your life when God is not focused on you. Why? Because he made you to love you. You're loved. Will God ever stop focusing on me? Will he ever stop loving me? No, look at this next verse.
Romans chapter eight, verse 38, and 39. I am certain, confidence, I'm certain that nothing can separate us from God's love. Not life, nor death, nor angels or demons. Demons can't separate you from God's love. Not the present or the future. Not the powers above or below, nothing in all creation shall ever separate us from God's love for us in Christ. Circle that, in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Why can't I be separated from God's love? Well, for two reasons. It's unconditional and it's eternal. It's unconditional, in other words, God doesn't say I love you if, that's conditional. God never say I love you because, that's conditional. God says, I love you, period. I love you, in spite of the fact that you don't always love me. Because God is love. God's love for you is based on who he is not what you do. It's not based on your performance it's based on his character.
You can't make God stop loving you. You can try but you will fail. Because God is unconditional. But not only that, he's consistent. You never have to wonder about God's love. You don't wake up in the morning and go, I wonder if God's gonna love me today after what I did last night. God says, my love for you is unconditional. It's not fickle, it's not unpredictable. He doesn't hug you one day and slug you the next day. We never need to ask, will God love me? He will. In fact, we always get into trouble when we doubt God's love. Anytime you doubt God's love, and you think I know more than God, I'm gonna do what I wanna do, right? And what I wanna do. How's that working out for you? Your life just sailing along with no problems, no depression, no discouragement? We always get into problem when we doubt God's love and when we doubt God's wisdom.
But there's more, in this first pillar. I'm not just chosen by God, you're not just chosen by God. You're not just loved by God. There's more, you're accepted. Most people don't realize this. You're accepted by God. We spend our entire lives trying to be accepted. You wear the clothes you wear, 'cause you wanna be accepted. You drive the car you drive 'cause you wanna be accepted. You choose your friends, the food you eat, the things you say on the internet, everything you do is out of this massive need to say accept me, accept me, I want to be accepted. Well, friend, you're already accepted by God who created you. Ephesians, First Corinthians chapter one says this, verse 30, God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ. There's that phrase again in Christ. And he says, you didn't do this to yourself, I did it for you. God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. He is the one who made us acceptable to God.
How does Jesus make us acceptable to God? And what does that mean? Well, here's the problem. God's perfect and you're not, and I'm not. How does a perfect God let an imperfect person into a perfect place called heaven? Well, something's gotta happen. So God says, I'll take care of the problem myself. He comes to Earth, as a man in the form of Jesus Christ. God comes to Earth, dies for your sin. This is called grace, this is called redemption. This is called being rescued by God. They're whole bunch of theological terms. It's called justification, just as if I'd never sinned. Justified, just as if I had never sinned. God says, I'm gonna make you clean and perfect in my eyes no matter what you've already done. God says, I came, and I sent my Son to die for you, so that you are acceptable to me. So if God accepts you, why do you need the approval of other people?
One of the most liberating things in life will be when you finally learn someday, I don't need other people's approval to be happy. You don't, you only need the approval of one person, God. And if God likes you, and you like you. If you don't like me, if I like me, and God likes me, what's your problem? I don't need your approval. I don't know if you know this or not some people don't like me. And they criticize me and they say, oh, I spend one none, no seconds of my life thinking about those people. Why? I don't need their approval be happy. I'm happy while they're stewing their spew, and I don't like Rick Warren. Fine, God does. I'm chosen, I'm loved and I'm accepted. You're chosen, you're loved, and you're accepted. So why is this such a big deal what other people think about you? Now here's the, that's the first pillar and they are four of them. Here's the second pillar of your identity. Kay is gonna come and talk about this. In Christ, my value and worth are priceless.
Kay Warren: As Rick said, my value and my words are priceless. Isaiah 43, verse four, God says, you are precious to me. Now precious is a really emotional word. It's not a word that we use very often, we don't hear people talk about it. When I hear the word precious there's something in me that just thinks it's gotta be said with a southern accent like, well, honey, you are so precious to me. It fits with the southern accent. But in Hebrew, and the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. And so Isaiah in Hebrew it means highly valued or esteemed. In English it means, valued, wanted, treasured, cherished. And whether you are comfortable using that emotional word precious to describe how you feel about people you love, or have people use that about you. Or whether you're comfortable even admitting the longings that you have in your heart, we all want to be loved. To be highly esteemed, to be valued, to be treasured, to be cherished by at least one other person in this world. And the good news is that God has already said, you are precious to me.
Well how do we know that that's how God feels about us. He says it, but what's the visible proof of that? Two ways that I can think of, first is we are all made in the image of God. In Genesis 1:26, and 27 there on the screen. God says, let us make man, mankind in our image, in our likeness. So God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God, he created them male and female, he created them. In the Latin the words for the image of God is Imago Dei. And Imago Dei is what all of us contain. All of us contain the image of God. We were made in his likeness. And it defines us as surely as this phrase that we've been using, in Christ. Before we were in Christ, we were all made in the image of God. And what does that mean that we are made in the image of God?
Well God is not a physical being is a spiritual being, spirit. And so it doesn't have anything to do with, well you look like God, but I don't look like God. It's not about appearance. It is the characteristics of God. God is a three part being. Great theology, that there's so much to unpack on this. He is a triune God, he's made in three parts. He's God, he's Son, he's Holy Spirit. And we as you human beings, who are made in His image are also made in three parts. We have a body, we have a soul and we have a spirit. To be made in the image of God means that we have emotions, like God has emotions, God uses words like precious. We've said, that's an emotional word. God has emotions, we as human beings, made in his image, have emotions. We have the capacity for rational thought, not just instinct. We have the capacity to develop a spiritual connection with the creator of the universe. And that means that every single person, every single person, carries the spark of the divine. And we have the image of God stamped on us.
That this must become an unshakable conviction in you. Because when you understand that you and every other person on this planet has been stamped with the image of God that establishes personhood. Anyone made in the image of God is a person, regardless of how functional they are, how well they can contribute in society. Whether they are born or unborn, every person has been stamped with the image of God. And it's the driving force for why we as human beings care for the week. It's why we care for the vulnerable. It's why we care for those on the edges, those that are too sick to contribute to the community through employment. Or those that are too young, or those that are too old to care for others. Or those that need to be taken care of, those who are incapacitated in their body or their mind or their spirit. Those who cannot speak their own name, or put a spoon to their mouth. Or those who are not yet born and have not made a measurable contribution to society.
All are stamped with the image of God. I've talked to you a little bit in the last year or so about my mom. She's 95 and is in last stages of Alzheimer's. And she is really a shell of the person that she used to be. She was a vibrant woman. She wasn't excellent Bible teacher, my dad was a pastor, and she was an amazing pastor's wife and creative and, and warm. And she was one of those ladies that they always say, well, you could eat, her house was so clean, you could eat off of her floor. That that was made for my mom, she was just always, always busy. And now at 95 and last stages of Alzheimer's, it is impossible to have much of a rational conversation with her because her little sentence loop is about 15 seconds long. And then she's forgotten what she said. And most of the time, she lives with delusions and thinks that she's been kidnapped and that people are trying to kill her and the caregivers are just being nice to her. But they're gonna hurt her behind closed doors.
She's in a wheelchair, because her legs won't hold her up anymore. She needs help with hygiene, she needs help with dressing herself. She can't teach Bible studies anymore. She can't even read the Bible, because the Bible and any other book don't make sense to her. And so in society's eyes, my mother's worth and value is declining by the day. And she feels, she knows it. And in some of her coherent moment, she's able to say I wish I could just die. I just wish I could die life is not how it used to be. I can't do anything for anybody anymore. And so my main task with my mom these days is to remind her every day that she has been stamped with Imago Dei. That the image of God she bears the divine spark, she matters, she is a person, she has value, she has worth even though she can't contribute in the ways that she has done all of her life, she matters. And that is not only how we treat those who are weak and vulnerable, because they've all been stamped with the image of God. But this is how we are to treat each other.
Every one of us able bodied, able mind, whatever condition you find yourself in, no matter if the person that you're looking at is doing something heinous, horrible, terrible, criminal, evil. And deserve some sort of punishment or some sort of consequence for their behavior. Every single person, even at our very worst maintains the spark of the divine. Maintains Imago Dei. And that means that you and I in very practical terms, never ever have the right to speak of another human being in degrading terms. To talk of human beings as animals call them names like dogs or cockroaches or vermin or infestations or undesirable or even deplorable. This is all against Imago Dei, it is all. Anytime we speak in degrading terms of other human beings, even at their very worst we are negating by our own words, what God says is true about us, our identity is we bear the image of God.
The second way that we know that we are valuable, that's concrete way. I mean, it's it's an incredible truth, to know that we are stamped with the image of God. But another way that we can know that we are, that our value is priceless to God is because Jesus died for us. Rick has already mentioned that, but the Bible says that Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, to die on the cross for all of our sins, our rebellion against God's right to reign and rule in our in our lives. And he died for all of the sins for all time for all of the people who ever were born, who would ever live. Those who were alive when he died on the cross. Those who have been born since his death and resurrection. And those who will be born long after you and I are gone. Jesus died for all of our sin in that moment. And he took the penalty and paid the ransom that we should have paid.
First Peter 1:18, I'm gonna come back to that other verse. So hold on, but look at first Peter 1:18. It says you were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned. But you weren't ransomed by silver or gold. But with the precious blood of Christ. There's that word again, precious. It was used in the Old Testament, and it meant highly esteemed and valued. And in the Greek and which the New Testament was written, it means the same thing. And so God said, I'm going to use something that is precious, highly valued to me, the lifeblood of my son to rescue and redeem something, someone else who is highly esteemed, valuable, precious to me, and that was me. And that was you.
So God says again, not only because we've been stamped with the image of God, but because he gave his life blood for us, we are precious to him. Well, there are two debilitating lies, I think that can arise from our need to know that we matter. And the first one is that some have concluded that really none of us do matter. That the universe is a cold and sterile, an unfeeling, uncaring random place. And because the universe is that way, that means that we as human beings, also are random, and meaningless. And at the end of the day don't really matter. Rick is gonna be talking about that more in this series, not so much today, but just know that that is a lie.
The second lie that I think that we have to contend with about our, whether we matter or not, is let's just say you get past that first one. And you do believe that human beings matter, and we're stamped with the image of God. What can creep in is a fear that if we reveal to other people, really the shameful things that we have done, the terrible things that go through our minds on a daily basis, that we won't matter to them. Maybe we'll matter to God, but we won't matter to another human being. Because honestly, there is a lot of junk in all of our lives. There's stuff that we are embarrassed and ashamed of, there are days that we would love to recall, wipe out, man, I wish I had not done what I did on that day. I wish I had not said what I said to that person on that day.
If I could rewind history, I would do it in a heartbeat because I am so ashamed of what I did and what I said. But that doesn't even cover the things that nobody will really ever know about. Is the thoughts that go through our minds every day. I would be horrified if you could see how many times I am so self centered. How I am completely self absorbed. How often, wouldn't you hate it if everybody knew that they could see into your head when you're interpreting a conversation or interaction. And inside really what you're thinking of, well, you know what, that doesn't do anything for me. So I don't have to talk to that person. Or that person's got nothing to give me so I don't have to listen to it. I mean, the self absorption, the self-centeredness, the selfishness. I mean, the the stuff that's even worse from that.
The ugly thoughts, the hateful thoughts, the racist thoughts, the violent thoughts, the pornographic thoughts, the judgmental, the vindictive thoughts that fill our minds. And when those things we know they're there, other people don't necessarily know they're there. But it can lead us to that place of believing God may accept me, God may love me, but other people won't. And so conclude in the end, I really don't matter that much. Because people would run from me. They would discard me like a used tissue, if they knew what I was really like. Here's the comfort. God does already know, God does already know. He knows it all. And he has already declared that you are precious to him. That you are highly valued, even in your sin, in your worst moments, in your most evil moments, in your most despicable moments, in your most shameful moments. His love for you does not shift or change, you are precious, you are value, and Jesus has come for us. And because of the high price that Jesus was willing to pay for us, the Bible says, we belong to God, we belong to him.
Look at first Corinthians 7:23. It says, you have been bought and paid for by Christ. So you belong to him. In the world of value provenance really matters, whether in the world of antiques, where that jewelry came from, who wore that piece of jewelry? Who painted that painting, who owned it? Who owns that piece of art? Whose house was that? Who used to have that car? Whose yacht was that? Those things matter, ownership matters. And the Bible says our provenance is God. God is our owner, Jesus has bought and paid for us and our lives belong to him. So our provenance, our worth our value. So much comes from belonging to God. Ownership makes all the difference in the world. Rick has been a collector all his life. I mean, he collected rocks, he collected stamps, he collected coins. He collected National Geographic magazines. He collected letters from famous people. I mean, he he's collected it all, he used to call it is valuable property.
And so when he and I first met, that was one of the things I learned about him is he was very particular about his valuable property, the things that he had collected. And he also collected some weird and random things like chicken wishbones. And the first time I visited his parents home and went into the bedroom he had grown up with as a little kid, it was strung with desiccated and dried it out chicken wishbones. And I married him anyway. So that's on me, I knew what I was getting into. I'm so glad he's settled on collecting old books and old things from history and theology, and of course, whoever it belonged to matters to him. But the really funny thing to me about this talking about ownership and provenance, and where something came from, is that I mean, Rick would not say this about himself, but he's kind of well known. And some people might even say he's famous.
And so there are people who want to own things that belong to Rick Warren. So there have been people digging in our trash over the years. And it just cracks me up. Because I'm thinking really, his used root beer bottle is that valuable? But it's the provenance, it's who you belong to, and who it belongs to. You and I in our identity, it is so strong, and it is so secure, we've stamped with the image of God. Imago Dei is written all over our lives. And we have been bought and paid for by Jesus Christ. And we belong to God, our owner, our provenance comes from God. And that identity strengthens us to live in this world in such a confident way. Rick is gonna talk about the next point about how in Christ, I have something to offer to the world.
Rick Warren: Thanks, babe. Now I've told you many times that you're not an accident. There accidental parents, there are no accidental children. There are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. And the reason you're alive is because he wanted you alive. Remember, before you were born, thousands, millions of years were you born, he chose you. He said, I'm gonna choose to create you. If you hadn't been chosen by God, you think you'd be alive right now? Not a chance. If you hadn't been loved and accepted. And if you weren't valuable and priceless to God, you think you'd be taking your next breath? Not a chance.
Now there's a third pillar of these four legs of the of the table, which are your self identity, your self worth. And as Kay said, the third leg of the stool or third leg at the table is in Christ, I have something to offer to the world. Why? God didn't create anything without a purpose. So if your heart's beating, and you're breathing, there's a purpose. And that purpose is to make a contribution to the world. God uniquely shaped you for a contribution. He wired you in certain way. Nobody else in in history has your DNA. Nobody, nobody in the past, nobody in the future will ever be you. God doesn't create clones or copies. Even identical twins are different in thousands and thousands of different ways. You have a unique thumbprint, voiceprint, eye print, footprint, heartbeat. You're not one in a million, you're one in trillions. There's nobody ever gonna be like you in the past in the future. That's how specifically God custom made you. And he wants you to be you.
God doesn't want you to be anybody else. God wants you to be me. God doesn't want me to be you. God doesn't want you to be the person next to you. Why can't you be more like your brother, your sister, your dad or your mom, God wants you to be you. If he hadn't wanted to be you, you wouldn't exist. And yet, we spend our entire lives trying to be somebody we're not. We spend our entire lives trying to, well, I want to be like that guy. I want to be like that woman. And we missed the whole purpose of our lives. God made you to be you. He doesn't want you to be any body else. God puts you on this planet, and made you you. And that means there's a contribution that only you can make. I can't make it, nobody else can make it only you can make it. God did not put you on this planet, just to use resources, live a self centered life, breathe air, take up space and die.
If you're here, there is a purpose, there's a plan, and there's a contribution God intends for you to make. And doesn't mean your contributions will be known by everybody in the whole world. We don't need everybody in the whole world to make a contribution that everybody in the world knows about. There's seven billion of us. But he wants you to make a contribution in the part of the world where you live. And that gives your life value and meaning. If you're alive, there's a purpose and reason and a contribution that God wants you to make. Let me show you some things from the Bible. Ephesians chapter two verse 10, says this. We are each God's masterpiece. Did you know that's in the Bible? You are a masterpiece. You're a van Gogh, you're a Renoir, you're a Manet. You're a Rembrandt, you are a masterpiece. That word there in Greek is actually the word poema, we get the word poem from it. You are a masterpiece. You're not a reject. You're not a defect. God says, you're a masterpiece, just as you are.
Stop trying to be somebody else. He said, I made you to be you. And God looks at you, and he goes, that's my girl. That's my boy. And you don't have to be somebody else for God to smile at you. In fact, God smiles when you be you. When you try to be somebody, you're not God frowns, what are you doing? I didn't make you to be somebody else. If I had wanted you to be somebody else I would not have created you. I would have just made them. So why are you trying to be somebody else? You are God's masterpiece. We are God's masterpiece. He created us in Christ Jesus. There's that phrase again, in Christ, to do the good things he has planned in advance for us to do with our lives.
Did you know that before you were born, God planned the good things he wanted you to do with your life. The contribution you would make with your life. So not my contribution, it's your contribution. That by the way, doing the good things with your life. There's a word for that in the Bible it is called your ministry. Everybody has a ministry. Everybody has, this is my thing of good things that I do that help other people in the world. That's my ministry. And true success is doing what God planned you to do. My job is your coach. That's what I am as a pastor, I'm a spiritual coach. I'm your spiritual coach. My job is to help you find your niche, your niche. The area in your life and go, this is what I was wired to do. And not to be somebody else, but to do what God wired you to do. And for you to fulfill your ministry.
So when you get to heaven, one day, God goes, hey, did you do what I made you to do with your life? No, I watched a lot of TV. Wrong answer. Did you do what I want to make you to do with your life? He says we're God's masterpiece created to do what he planned in advance for us to do, all those those good things. This is real success. Most people have no idea what success really is. Some people's success means make a lot of money. You make a ton of money and be an absolute failure in your life. Some people think being successful means being famous. You can be famous as all get out and be a total failure with your life. Some people think success is having a lot of power. You can have an enormous amount of power and be egotistical, narcissistic twit. It means nothing.
What is real success? Okay, here's what the Bible says real success is. Real success is being who God made you to be. Not trying to be somebody else. Not trying to be what your parents wanted you to be. Real success is being what God wired you to be. And when you be who God wired you to be. When you be you, God goes, you got it. That's why I put you on Earth. I put you on earth to be you. You're not that guy, you're not that guy. You're not that guy, you're not her, you're not her. This is who I made you to be. That is real success. And that's part of my job to help you figure that out, not copy somebody else. If you try to be somebody else in life, you are absolutely gonna fail. 'Cause you can't be anybody but you, you're gonna fail. So stop trying to be somebody else. Be who God made you to be. Be who you are in Christ.
Here's another verse, Colossians chapter two, verse nine, and 10 says this. In Christ, there's that phrase, again, in Christ, there is all of God in a human body. God came to earth in human form. 2000 years ago, split history into AD and BC. In Christ, there's all of God in the human body. God, Jesus is God just in human flesh. So you have everything when you have Christ. And you are filled with God, did you know that? Through your union with Christ. And he has authority over every other power. Now there's a difference between power and authority. When a policeman stands up, and stands in the road, and says stop, in the name of the law. And a giant semi, Mack truck stops, who has the most power, the policeman or the truck? The truck has the most power, but the policeman has the authority. And authority always trumps power.
You are not the most powerful person in the world. But you have God in you, you know what that means? You have authority. You have authority, you've never even tapped. We're gonna talk about that in this series. You have authority, you have never even tapped. You don't have the power. The power isn't in you, the power is in God. But he says you have the authority because you're filled with God. And he's saying that God has already put in you everything you need to be you. You lack nothing to be a success in life. If you understand success is being you. Now if you think being a success as being somebody else. Yeah, you don't have their gifts, you don't have their talents. You don't have their opportunities. Yeah, then you do lack a lot of things if you think success is being somebody else. But if you think a successful life is being who God made me to be, you've already got everything 'cause God put it in you when he planned you. And when he birthed you, and when he wired you.
Now do you understand what I'm saying here? That you lack nothing to be the success God made you to be. So it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks about you. Why are you so hung up on what other people think about you? What other people think about you is none of your business. It's none of your business. You shouldn't even care about it. What you should live for is an audience of one. As I said, if God likes me, and I like me, what's your problem? I wasn't build, I wasn't created, I wasn't planned, I wasn't birthed to please you. I was created and plan to please God. And if that's what I'm focused on, it's always going to be the right thing. So here's what I'm begging you to do as your pastor. Stop being a people pleaser and start being a God pleaser. Stop being a people pleaser, and start being a God pleaser.
Then by the way, it's a whole lot easier to do because it's only one person. If you begin to be a people pleaser, have you noticed they don't always agree? Once you get crowd A pleased, crowd B get sticked at you. And then you get B crowd pleased, crowd A gets upset. One minute you're the hero the next venture the zero, terrible way to live. Stop being a people pleaser. Make a commitment that on this day, August 25th, 2019, I'm gonna stop being a people pleaser, I'm starting to be a God pleaser. I'm gonna worry about is God, is this what you want me to do? It will always be the right thing. He will never never steer you in the wrong direction. What I'm saying is it inside you and God made you, you are already competent. You're already competent, you have the right capacity. You're already capable. You just lack the confidence to be who God made you to be.
Now let me share something with you probably never thought of before. You have one thing that nobody else in the entire world has. You have an advantage over everybody else that nobody else has. If you're a woman, you have this advantage over every other woman in the world. And if you're a man, you have this advantage over every other man in the world, you know what it is? They can't be you. They can't be you. Only you can be you. And God made you to be you, not them. So they will never be you. So whether it's a group of teenage girls stand in a circle in junior high, and they're all trying to be like each other. Which is impossible, they never will. You need to go and say you know what none of you girls can ever be like me. You don't need to say that, but just think it.
Well it's nice knowing you. They, if anybody else tries to be you, you know what happens? They fail. They will fail if they try to be you. I can't be you, you can't be me. But only you can be you. And only I can be me. Only you can be who God made you to be, so relax. Now this oughta give you an enormous confidence in life. But the fact is, you're not very confident most of your life. A lot of times in life, you're just flat out insecure. You don't tell people that, I mean, you act like you're confident. But the truth is, a lot of times, most of the time in life, you're feeling pretty insecure about you. And there's some stuff about you, you don't even like about you.
Why are we lacking in confidence? Two reasons, the Bible says two reasons. Number one, you're trying to be somebody God didn't shape you to be. And that's going to be incredibly scary. 'Cause you can't be anybody else you can only be you. That's scary. Second Corinthians chapter three, verse five and six says this. The capacity we have comes from God, he wired it in us. It is he who made us capable of serving the New Covenant. What you need to start doing is discover your own capacity. It's called your SHAPE. S-H-A-P-E spiritual gifts, heart abilities, personality experiences. Here at Saddleback, we have a series of classes. Class 101, discovering my spiritual family. Class 201, discovering the habits for growth. Class 301, discovering my SHAPE for my ministry. Class 401, discovering my life mission in the world.
You have an advantage that millions of other people don't have. You're at a church that actually teaches this stuff. If you haven't taken those classes, what in the world are you waiting on? you have an advantage being here that a lot of people don't have. 'Cause you can, we will help you move toward discovery and being who God made you to be. You need to sign up for those classes. The other reason why we're often lack confidence is not just that, we don't know what we're shaped to do. But the other reason is, we depend on our own power instead of depending on God's. And that's a sure guarantee for failure yourself. Even though God has put this capacity in you. He hasn't made you to be able to do it all on your own. God never meant for you to go through life on your own power. God meant for you to be dependent on him, to be plugged in. A blender is wired to blend things, but it's worthless unless it's plugged into the power. A vacuum cleaner is made to vacuum, but it's worthless unless it's plugged into power.
God has put capabilities in your life, but it's worthless, they're worthless, unless you're plugged into the power, God's Spirit in your life. So you're depending on yourself rather than God and you think, and when you depend on yourself. That's when you get insecure. And somebody asks you to do something and you go, well, I couldn't do that. There's no way I could do that. There's not a chance, there's not a snowball's chance in hell, I could possibly do that, I can't do that. And you know what you're right. That's why you need God. The capacity is there, but it needs to be plugged into the power. You have unused capacity in your life. But you're not plugged into the power, you're not in Christ. So you don't have the power. It's like a blender sitting there, it's never plugged in. It's useless, can't fulfill its purpose. And so you have to be plugged in to the power.
And that leads us to one of the most famous verses in the Bible, this next verse, Philippians chapter four, verse 13. We read it so many times I put it in a new translation, Amplified says this, I have strength for all things. Not just some things, for all things in Christ. There's that phrase, not on my own power. I have strength for all things in Christ, who empowers me. I'm ready for anything. And I'm equal to do anything through him who infuses inner strength into me. I am self sufficient in Christ sufficiency. Friends, that is the secret to a happy life right there. I am self sufficient in Christ sufficiency.
If you'd asked me when I was a kid, would I ever imagined doing what I'm doing? No. I was on three continents this summer. I met with the president of Guatemala, met with the president of Costa Rica. Spoke to the Congress of Costa Rica, did conferences. Not in a million years when I was in junior high high school would I have ever imagined it, that's gotta be me. But I am self sufficient in Christ sufficiency. And he gives me, the capacity was there, but I had to get plugged in to the power. You have something to offer to this world. Why? Three reasons.
Number one, God wired you, your heavenly Father wired you with the capacity. Kay talked about it, you're made in the image of God. Imago Dei, Imago is word for image, Dei is the word for God in Latin. You have the image of God in you. You're wired and there's nobody like you, nobody shaped like you in the whole world. Second, you're in Christ, and he gives you strength. And third, God's Spirit empowers you to do what nobody else can do. So stop comparing yourself. Now there's a fourth thing, a fourth pillar of your self identity, write this down. The fourth one is, Kay is gonna talk about it, that in Christ, I am totally forgiven.
Kay Warren: The Bible says in Romans eight, verse one, there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I want you to say, read that verse with me. It is a powerful verse, when you begin to believe it. Read it with me, there is now, with enthusiasm. Sorry, don't read it through like you're reading the phone book, with enthusiasm, okay. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". That is one of the most liberating, the most freeing verse in the entire Bible as far as I'm concerned. It says that there is no condemnation hanging over the head of anyone who is in Christ Jesus. Anyone who has come to Jesus Christ as their Savior, and their Lord doesn't have to live waiting for that other shoe to drop. That someday God is gonna think of something that you didn't know that you were we're going to be held responsible for. And it's gonna happen.
You don't have to spend those sleepless nights of anxiety going over and over in your head. What if God ever, what if God ever finds out I did this, or I said that or what if this, you don't have to live with that kind of guilt and recrimination and anxiety and regret. Because when you come to Christ, there is now no longer any condemnation, spiritually, we are totally forgiven. Let me just tell you quickly two ways that we can know that to be true. First, it is in God's nature to forgive. It's who God is. It's who he is.
In Isaiah 43:25, God says, I am the God who forgives your sins. And I do this because of who I am. I will not hold your sins against you. That is a powerful thing to grab on to. God says I'm a forgiver. There's this misconception that God in the Old Testament, he's judgmental, he's harsh, angry. He doesn't have a whole lot to say about mercy and forgiveness and kindness and then somehow, between the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jesus shows up and Jesus is now the good and kind guy. And it's like bad cop, good cop.
And Jesus is all about mercy and forgiveness and God and the Old Testament, he's a bad guy, you don't even wanna make him mad. And the truth is that the same God, God does not change. God has always been a God of mercy, always been a God of compassion, always be been a God of kindness. And if you're not really sure about that, I really challenge you go back, look at the Old Testament, do it yourself. You don't have to be a Bible scholar. Just start reading through the Old Testament, looking for places where God says, I have loved you with an everlasting love. I will forgive your sins. This one in Isaiah, I'm the God who forgives your sins so that you can be convinced that God is forgiver.
The second way that we can know that we're totally forgiven in Christ is Ephesians two, excuse me, Ephesians 1:7 seven says, in Christ, underline that, we are set free by the blood of his death. And so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God's grace, which he has given to us so fully and freely. Again, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Because of what God said to us through Jesus death on the cross. We have forgiveness of sins, God's grace, and how is it given to us? The Bible says it is given to us fully and freely. Fully and freely, the apostle Paul says in that verse that Jesus' blood, as we've already said, so highly valued to God, provided for us forgiveness. And now God gives, he just like slathers us with His grace and his mercy. The problem is that even if you are willing to believe that about God about that's the way he feels about you, we get stuck in trying to apply that same grace and mercy to other people.
You know, it's like the grace and mercy spigot gets clogged in us. And when it's us, we want God to just pour out that full grace and that free forgiveness for everything we've done wrong. Everything that is sinful about us. We want God's mercy and grace in droves. But when it comes to me forgiving you, that is a different story. And I am not usually as interested in you receiving grace and mercy as I am myself receiving grace and mercy. Anybody else identify with that? That's just kind of the way we are, that even though God has graced us fully and freely, we are not as eager to do that for each other. The Bible says, that's wrong. Look at Ephesians 4:32. God says, be kind, and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.
When our son Josh was in high school, he came to me one day, crying, very remorseful. And he said, Mom, I need to tell you, I need to tell you something that I've done. And I've kind of took a deep breath, because I really had no idea what I was about to hear. Josh is a good kid, was a good kid, but I still didn't know. He's weeping, why is he weeping? What is he about to confessed to me? And he said, I just need to tell you that I use the credit card that you and dad had given me for emergencies, I bought a few things that I didn't really have your permission to buy. I've taken my friends out to lunch a few times.
And I just want you to know, I'm really sorry. And I'm thinking to myself, yeah but you know the credit card bills coming up here. And you're gonna confess ahead of time, rather than as find out through the credit card bill. But I was just really angry, because Josh had broken our trust. We had given him this card and good faith in case of emergencies. And here he had abused our trust, he'd lied to us. Basically stolen from us. And I was so angry at him. And I really had all kinds of things that I wanted to say about, how deep my heart was, and how he was grounded for the next three years of high school. And I mean, I just had all these really angry, upset thoughts that I wanted to say. And at the exact moment that I was getting ready to blast him.
In my anger, God reminded me of this verse. And it's like, oh, man, don't you hate it when God does that? Because you found this righteous anger going, and then he brings the word to you. And you're like, ah! And it was like, okay, I had a moment. Thank God, he helped me realize that as a parent, I had a moment. And I could either reveal to my son something about the nature of God in the way that I forgave him. Or I could just be a human parent that was justifiably upset, and I could distort the image of God. I could rail on my son, I could discipline him in anger. I could punish him. I you could say all these things about how he had let us down. Or I could remember that I have already been forgiven a million times more than what my son had done in that moment.
God has already forgiven me and that I had an opportunity to say, I forgive you. I am angry, I'm hurt, and there will be consequences. But I just want you to know that I do forgive you. And so instead of railing on him and spewing all kinds of stuff, I had a moment to channel the way God would do something. God meets our sin and often there are consequences for our sin. We don't get off scot free in the sense of sometimes there are consequences. But I had the opportunity to offer him grace fully and freely. The great thing about Josh is now all these years later, I trust him implicitly, he runs our lives. He runs our nonprofit businesses. And Josh is in total control of my life.
And so I trust him and and God has been able to repair all of that. But here's the here's the truth, you guys about forgiving fully and freely. As parents, as teachers, as educators, as coaches, we have so many opportunities to make sure that we don't distort the image of God. Sometimes good kids make stupid decisions. Sometimes good kids make bad decisions. And we can either jump on them with both feet, and take them to the ground, and threaten them with everything that could possibly ever happen. And take away everything forever. And we can distort the way that God has forgiven us, or we have the opportunity to fully offer grace and mercy. As we build their identity. Rick is gonna come and finish this message.
Rick Warren: Okay let me wrap this up. Everybody in life, at different times has felt the pain of rejection. There's nobody goes through life without feeling some kind of rejection by different people, different groups at different times. My studies have shown that earlier you were rejected, you felt that, the younger you were when you first felt major rejection, the greater the impact it has on your life. So if you were a young child and you felt abandoned, or you felt rejected, or you felt unloved, that's a real problem you're having to struggle with. And if you were told, as a kid, you don't really matter and so many words. Or you're a failure, or you'll never be up to my expectation. That's a hard thing to move over. In many ways it was like a curse on your life.
How do you reverse a curse? How do you reverse a curse? The truth will set you free. Everybody's heard that phrase, but they don't know the full verse. It's a quote from Jesus. And the full quote is this, if you continue in my word, the Bible, if you continue in my word, then you'll be my disciple. You'll be my followers, and then you'll know the truth. And the truth will set you free. That's the full quote. The truth isn't out there on TV, the truth is in this book. And if you know the truth, then the truth will set you free. What is the truth about you? You're accepted, you're loved, you're forgiven, you're chosen, you're priceless. You have something to contribute to the world, and when you mess up, you're forgiven. That's the truth. That's the truth.
Now there's another research that I read years ago. That the way you tend to feel about yourself, your identity, your self esteem, your self worth, is largely determined by what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. Let me say it again, the way you feel about yourself, your self esteem, your self worth is largely determined, whether you realize it or not, by what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. So friends, I highly recommend you make Jesus Christ, the most important person in your life. Does that make sense? Because he says you're chosen, you're forgiven, you're accepted, you're loved, you're valuable, you're priceless. You got something to offer. When you mess up, you're forgiven. This is who you really are.
So make Jesus Christ, the most important person in life. You're chosen by God, you're loved by God, you're accepted by God. You have a contribution to make in your life, your value and your worth are priceless. And you're forgiven. That is your true identity. When you settle your true identity, you become almost impervious to peer pressure. Because you know who you are. And you know what you're supposed to do with your life. Wen I was in school from sixth grade, through my freshman year in college, I was president of something every year. I was growing up, I was class president of my class, every single year except when I, in junior high and high school was student body president of the whole school. You might say I was popular. And as a result of being popular, I was invited to all the parties from sixth grade through college. And yet somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through all those years, without ever taking any drugs, without ever smoking a cigarette, without ever even tasting alcohol, without having sex with some girl. Why? Because I knew who I was in Christ. And I wasn't about to throw that away.
I was like why would I wanna get drunk and have a hangover and throw up in your toilet? That sound fun? And why would I wanna have sex with a girl that I'll never see again until 50 years later, she comes forward in my Senate confirmation hearing. And I haven't seen this girl for 50 years, really? Come on. Somehow God got ahold of my brain at an early age. And my parents built into me what my true identity was, and I was impervious to the pressure. Even though I was invited all those parties. You need this in your life, you need to pass it on to the next generation. This is your true identity. You are not what your parents say you are. You're not what your peers say you are. You're not what your partner says you are. You're not what the world says you are. You are not what the media says you are. You are not what social media says you are. You are not what bullies who criticize you in school say you are. You are not what you tell yourself, when you are self condemning yourself. And you are not what Satan tells you are, you are what God says you are. And the truth will set you free.
Now as your friend, as your pastor who genuinely loves you, have I told you lately that I love you? The big question comes down to this, who are in the world you gonna believe? Are you gonna believe what the world says about you that unless you look certain way, unless you talk a certain way, unless you do certain things, unless you cave into certain moral issues, unless you believe certain things, you don't matter, you're worthless. Or you gonna believe what God says about you. Some of those two, one of those opinions isn't gonna matter in eternity. For trillions and trillions of years. I'll say it again, it is liberating the day, you realize that you don't need other people's approval to be happy.
By the way, did you know what Jesus said is the way you express your identity publicly for the first time. The way you come out with your new identity. It's called baptism. If you haven't been baptized, what are you waiting on? Baptism says I've died to the old me and I'm beginning a brand new me. Last verse on your outline. Second Corinthians chapter five from the Bible, verse 17. When anyone is in Christ, it's a whole new world. The old things are gone, including all the guilt and the shame and condemnation. The old things gone suddenly, everything is new. You say man, I'd like that. I'd like a whole new world. I'd like, it's like starting over. It's like getting a fresh start. It's like being born again. Oh I kind of like that term. Is that turn over a new leaf. It's get old new life. God says, would you like a mulligan on your life? Would you like to start over. fresh start? Okay, it also starts, where? In Christ, you say well, I'm not so sure Rick I'm in Christ. Well I can help you settle that one right now. It's real simple. You're not waiting on God. He's waiting on you. Let's bow our heads.
Thank you God our Father. Thank you Father that you can heal broken hearts. And you can heal bitter memories, and you can heal damaged self esteem. And I thank you, Lord, that the patterns in our minds can be erased and reversed. And I thank you that you turn nobody's into somebodies. Jesus, I'm asking you to help my friends here. Help these dear people, to begin to see themselves through your eyes of love.
Now you pray, in your mind say it. Just say this in your mind. God hears you. Say:
Dear God, I wanna be in Christ. Help me to see myself the way you see me. (Just tell him that.) Thank you Jesus for dying for me. I don't understand at all. But I wanna be in Christ. And I wanna start living my new identity in Christ. Help me to care more about what you say about me, than what other people say or think about me. May the truth set me free. For the rest of my life, I wanna be a God pleaser, not a people pleaser.
Now the heads still bowed. I'm gonna ask everybody here to repeat these truths aloud with me. They're the things we just talked about. But I want you to say them aloud so that your own mind, hears them. And just with your head bowed. Everybody say this aloud:
Because I'm in Christ. I've been chosen by God. I'm completely loved by God. And I am completely accepted by God. And in Christ my value and worth are priceless. And in Christ I have something unique to offer to the world. And in Christ I have been completely forgiven. Amen.