Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 4-3-2020
[This was a sermon I gave to the youth group at my local church when serving there as a youth leader. It was about 25 minutes and was focused on helping students find their identity in Jesus.]
We are lost. America’s latest generation is completely hopeless. According to the Center of Disease Control, the average life expectancy in America has gone down for the third year in a row.
This is due to drug overdoses like what has been seen in the opioid epidemic which has caused over 70,000 deaths, along with suicide rates rising over 10% from last year. “We’re seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we’re hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s. We’re seeing a drop in life expectancy because people are dying in their 20s [and] 30s” says Kathryn McHugh of Harvard Medical School quoted in an article by NPR (2). Some researchers believe this epidemic to be from a state of hopelessness caused by the social shifts in the U.S.
What social shifts? Anxiety, depression, immigration, political tension, and school shootings just to name a few. The problem? We don’t know who we are, where we belong, or why we are here.
So how do we figure out who we are, where we belong, and why we are here? We must look at three I’s in the pursuit of you: identity, ideology, and infatuation. We’ll briefly look at all three, but tonight we will focus primarily on identity in Jesus as a new creation.
Speaking of which, the first of the three I’s in the pursuit of you is identity. What do I mean by that? Put simply, identity is who you are individually as a person. Think specific character traits, hobbies, and interests. It also includes how you present yourself to others whether in person or online on your social media.
The second I in the pursuit of you is ideology. This is who you are within a group or a collection of people who share the same ideas and worldview. It could be as simple as DC and Marvel to something more complex like Democrats and Republicans. Even the dweebs who voted for Fortnite as the Game of the Year over Red Dead Redemption II. Still salty about that by the way. It’s a photo-realistic western in an open-world experience! Anyways, it’s whatever. Bottom line: we all have our own cultures and ideologies that we follow.
The final I in the pursuit of you is infatuation. Essentially, what you worship or what you base everything else off of in your life. Now this is going to be what drives you or motivates a lot of your decisions. A personal philosophy, if you will. It’s the passion of fighting for equality, the close-knit relationships with others, or even something as basic as sports.
It’s your starting point and from your infatuation, you find an ideology. From there, you begin to find who you are and develop an identity. Everyone associates with something, belongs somewhere, and worships someone. Who we are, who we’re with, and what we worship are the three things that make you, you. But what does God say about who you were, are, and will be in the future? Let’s look.
Who You Were
In the book of Romans, we’ll see how Paul describes who you were before you found your identity in Jesus to the Christians at that time. [After reading Romans 1:18-25] Now based off of what we just read, what were these people like before they had a personal relationship with Jesus? Hopeless and lost without knowing Jesus personally.
[At this point I did my own rendition of the “the chair’ sermon illustration and it was inspired most by Frank Peretti’s version (3). I don’t remember how I went about the illustration exactly or what I said because I don’t practice stories in my sermons. I improv all examples and illustrations because it comes cross more authentically in-person versus rehearsed. The point of this illustration was to help convey the main crux of the message: finding identity in Christ. In my notes, I only had this sentence as the ending: before we know God, we too are hopeless and lost in our journey of self-discovery.]
Who You Are
Since we’ve gone over who you were, let’s examine who you are now. This can be broken into two main sections: spiritually and practically. For the spiritual aspect of who you are, we find that summed up in the letter of 2 Corinthians. [After reading 2 Corinthians 5:17] Again, Romans 8:24-25 reminds us that “in hope we have been saved” and that we are to persevere in our life with God. Through that perseverance, we will enjoy God even more as He guides us in life.
In short, we are rebooted and get to have a fresh start, which Paul points out in Galatians 2:20. [These two sentences and really the ending were added last-minute for a student that was battling mental health issues. Might not necessarily make sense in the continuity of the message, but needed to be said for them.] You are loved and not a mistake. God is changing us into a masterpiece.
From the practical standpoint, we can see what this looks like in Psalm 1 and I’d encourage you to read that this week. Here in this relationship with God we find our new sense of identity, ideology, and infatuation. What does that really look like though? This is the breakdown. Our new identity is to be known by God, our new ideology is to make God known, and our new infatuation is to be known by God.
Who You Will Be
Lastly, let’s end reading Revelation 21:5-8. [After reading Revelation 21:5-8] Right now in Jesus you get to know who you are, where you belong, and what is worth worshiping. Being a new creation is something we get to enjoy now, but will fully understand later. Let’s pray and go to our small groups.
This was a fun sermon to preach, but does suffer from being overly stuffed with content that could’ve been streamlined with some strategic edits. This was also when I used to write out my sermons and memorize them, which was crazy in retrospect. Now I have transitioned to using a sermon journal for all of my messages. That started in January of 2019 when I shared my version of the Armor of God passage in Ephesians with the Sunday middle school group. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.