September 07, 2012
Workshop Two: Matthew Kim--"Preaching Identity in Christ in a Multi-Identity World"
Matthew has struggled with this idea of identity as an American born Korean. We go through a struggle trying to discern who are we, figuring out our identity. The question today is: Who am I? Who are you deep inside? We can place our identity in so many different places, this is what we do instead of finding our identity in Christ (i.e. I am this type of person, these are my interests and hobbies, this is what I do for a living, etc.). Matt believes everyone has one common identity, it's what you hope to accomplish, it's what motivates you and drives you. This competes with our identity in Christ.
Identity begins with God, he is Triune. Identity gives us a clear purpose in this life, if Jesus is your identity, then all of you day will be lived for Jesus. If it's your job, then you live to glorify your job. God takes pleasure in His identity and it has a purpose to display his glory. Our goal is to help our church find their identity in Christ. Who we are (identity) and who we hope to become (vision) in many ways shapes our thoughts and actions as Christians.
The world of the expositor: The world of Exegesis, Homiletics, Preacher. Each have three parts, the history, language and culture. Knowing how we operate and are wired helps us understand our identity. It is important to know yourself (Kim shared about being an introvert and the importance of knowing it). We need to think about how we are wired to communicate God's truth before we can learn how to do it across a diverse culture.
John Stott (in his text "Between Two Worlds") says a preacher is 1) Herald, 2) Sower, 3) Ambassador for Christ, 4) Steward, 5) Sheperd, 6) An approved worker. These are pieces of pastoral identity. Kim would add "cultural exegete" to this list. We must know our congregations well to preach the Gospel to them well. According to Haddon Robinson's definition of preaching, God is first and foremost doing something within us as preachers, we preach to ourselves first, that message must first embody me! Stott also talks about how preaching is a bridge building exercise between the Bible and our culture.
Preaching has two parts: 1) the preached word, doctrine, 2) the sermon lived. The Bible clearly speaks to our identity in Christ. We are children of God first and foremost (John 1:12, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Ephesians 1:5-8). If we wake up each morning saying "I'm a child of God," it will change us and our outlook on the day! Our identity in Christ needs to dominate and trump everything else. In Christ (our identity as Christ's), we are friends of God, we are eternally loved (Romans 8:39), given eternal life, forgiven, co-heirs (Romans 8:17), complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10), direct access to God (Hebrews 4:14-16), new citizenship (Philippians 3:20). Jesus is everything, those who drink from Him will never thirst, this is the identity issue, this is what we must communicate.
The result of knowing who we are leads to a certain response, our identity results in something. Our response to this identity is that we are dead to sin (Romans 6:11), we are to bear fruit, we boast in Jesus alone not in our accomplishments, we are to be ministers of reconciliation, we are to do good works for Christ, and we are called to go and make disciples. Our identity is not dictated by the culture, but by God Himself! God has designed you exactly how you are, he decided to do it. Embrace who you are. God did not make a mistake in how he created you.
As you preach, it would be smart to get feedback and feedforward from people in your congregation to help you understand how your preaching effects specific people in specific backgrounds. It's important too to look at where our experience overlaps with the congregation and how our language use overlaps. Be sensitive in use of illustrations that capture the congregation and application.
JT Holderman is pursuing a Th.M. in Homiletics here at Gordon-Conwell. He earned his M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2012. JT is currently in the ordination process of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with hopes of taking a call as a pastor in the coming year. His journey to Gordon-Conwell began when he sensed a deeper need for clear Biblical teaching in preaching to prepare him for ministry. He hails from Seattle, WA by way of Idaho and New Jersey. JT blogs at Praise and is an avid Mountain Biker and Bodyboarder.
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