Mistaken Identity

tall sunflower standing above field of sunflowers

Mistaken Identity

As we were talking with the pastor on our way out of church one day, a young, wide-eyed boy approached the pastor and said, “You're Jesus!” As the boy turned to run to his family, the pastor chuckled and called after him, “I'm not Jesus. I'm Corey.”

Have you ever been mistaken for Jesus?
Maybe not, but can others easily identify you as a Christian?

As they reclined at the table during the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples how the world would be able to recognize them as His followers.

"A new commandment I give to you, 
that you love one another, even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another. 
By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35

At the time, they seemed to have missed the statement because they were still trying to figure out just where Jesus was going since He had told them they wouldn't be able to come with Him. Jesus took the time to answer their questions, and then came back to the topic of love.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:15

After telling them that the new commandment He was giving them was to love each other, He reminded them that the demonstration of their love for Him was by keeping His commandments. Wow.

Loving God is demonstrated by obeying His commandment which is to love. When that becomes difficult, remember that Jesus promised to send us help.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, 
whom the Father will send in My name, 
He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 
John 14:26

After promising to also give his disciples peace, Jesus showed Himself an example of what He had commanded them to do. He was preparing to lay down His life and wanted the disciples to understand the reason behind this great sacrifice: Love that is evidenced by obedience.

but so that the world may know that I love the Father,
I do exactly as the Father commanded Me …
John 14:31

Later, as the early church was scattered due to persecution, they began sharing the Gospel with hearers in new regions. Many in Antioch believed and were then taught by Barnabas and Paul. These new believers, in turn, lived their lives in such a way that they were easily identified as followers of Christ.

And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers;
and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Acts 11:26
(Christian = follower of Christ)

Are you living your life in such a way
that you can be easily recognized as a follower of Christ?

False Identity

Unfortunately, there is another type of mistaken identity that we must consider: the false identity. Jesus warned us of the coming of false prophets in the last days because He didn't want us to be deceived by their sweet talk and deceptive words that would lead us away from the One True God.

At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
Matthew 24:10-12

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘ There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.
Matthew 24:23-25

Paul even addresses the demonic aspect of false prophets so that we remain vigilant against their deceptive schemes.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:13-14

Peter, too, warns us that what happened in the past will come again. He warned of how these false teachers will come from among those whom you trust, using sneaky methods that betray our Savior. He also reminded us that judgment will certainly come to them.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;  and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
2 Peter 2:1-3

We don't need to fear being tricked by false prophets if we follow the apostle John's advice:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.  You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:1-6

Let us study the Word and hold to the truth
so that we are not vulnerable to the lies of the devil.

New Identity

When we are saved, we receive a new identity in Christ, a new beginning. We are no longer defined by our past. Let's celebrate with gratitude the newness that life in Christ brings!

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; 
the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Not only do we receive a new identity, but we also receive a new purpose. God has given us the position and task of sharing His message of hope and reconciliation, of being His representative to those around us.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21

We have the privilege of being God's ambassadors to the world! The message of hope that we bring is that we can have a relationship with God Himself, with our sins no longer being counted against us because Jesus took them on Himself so that we can become living examples of God's righteousness.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org