Identity or Theology?


Okay, this may seem like a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” kind of question, but which comes first . . . believing in God or knowing about God?

Over the years, the church seems to have followed the logic that if we learn enough about God, we’ll believe in Him. So, we built endless curricula, offered countless classes, and passionately pursued training people about God and the Bible.

But Jesus’ model was different. His first call wasn’t study me, it was follow me!

And they did.

Those who followed Him got to know Him. They heard what He said and watched what He did. We don’t know exactly when they got it. We know Peter was one of Jesus’ closest followers . . . one of the ‘group within the group,’ along with James and John. It was well into their journey together when Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:16). Peter responded with a strong statement of his belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Since Peter was a fisherman and not a theologian, his declaration was probably based more on what he’d seen, heard, and experienced while walking with Jesus than on his childhood training in the Torah.

Now check this out.

Imagine you’re a newly adopted newborn baby. Your adoptive father has established your identity . . . he’s given you his last name. He probably knows a lot about you, having pursued every sliver of information about his new son.

Regi Campbell, author of this blog, has written for Discipleship·org a eBook called Fill Your Seats, which is available for free digital download in your favorite format here.

But what do you know about your adoptive father? Nothing. You’re a newborn! You’ll spend your childhood learning from and about this father of yours. You’ll trust him . . . blindly at first, but little by little, you’ll learn about him. Experience his love. Discover what he’s like. Maybe even want to be like him when you grow up!

When I surrendered to Jesus, I got a new identity. I became an adopted son of the God of the universe. How cool is that?! I knew little about Him, but He knew everything about me. As I’ve matured in my faith and grown in my knowledge of Him, I’ve come to see that living out of my new identity as an adopted son of God launched my pursuit to know God and learn more about Him (e.g., theology).

Grasping my identity as an adopted son of the King of Kings changed everything for me. God became my secure base . . . my core relationship. Unlike my earthly father, whose love was performance-based and inconsistent, God’s love is grace-filled and unwavering.

Will you stay mired in theology trying to just learn about God? Or will you relax into your role as His son and take your permanent place in the family?

Scripture: Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. (John 8:35)

Written by Regi Campbell

Regi is the Founder and Chairman of Radical Mentoring, a nonprofit focused on equipping and encouraging churches to build disciples and disciple makers through intentional men’s small group mentoring. Regi believes the future of the local church is intimately connected to the development of strong Jesus-following lay leaders who will lead their wives, children, businesses, neighborhoods, and churches with God at the center.


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