Wrestling With Your Identity | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Sep 5, 2023

In a society where we're told to "live our truth," Scripture makes it clear that the only way to find our identity is to recognize who we are in Christ. This week, guest speaker Kylen Perry, Metro Venue Pastor in Houston, TX, walks us through Genesis 32:24-30 to show us how God will lead us out of hiding to get us to embrace our design.

Transcript close

Timothy Ateek: It's so good to see you. I hope all is well. If this is your first time ever with us, thank you so much for trusting us with your Tuesday night. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here at The Porch as well as on Sunday mornings at Watermark. I'm so glad you made it. I want to give a big shout-out to all of our Porch.Live locations that are joining us tonight in different parts of the nation. I hope all is well with you, and I'm so glad you are worshiping with us.

Tonight is a sweet moment for me, because I get to introduce you to one of my very close friends, and you're going to have the opportunity to hear from him tonight. My good friend Kylen Perry is here to communicate the Word of God, and he's here from Houston, Texas, if there are any Houston people here. What you need to know about Kylen is that he went to Texas A&M University, which is kind of important.

The way Kylen and I know each other is that we served together at Breakaway Ministries for over three years. What I really loved about Kylen is that he gave his 20s to Jesus. Now, as he steps into his 30s, nothing has changed. So, when I think about young adults in my world who are leveraging their lives for the sake of the gospel, Kylen is the one who comes to mind.

What I love about Kylen is that now he is the director of Houston Metro, which is a Bible study that meets on Tuesday nights. So, just like we are gathering here tonight, there is a group of young adults meeting at Houston's First Baptist Church in Houston right now, and they are lifting up the name of Jesus together. I'm so glad Kylen is here to do that with us tonight.

In just a moment, he's going to come up, but before he does, I want to pray. I want to give you an opportunity to prepare your heart to hear the Word of God taught. So, would you take a second and pray for yourself? Just say, "God, would you speak to me tonight?" Then would you take a second and pray for Kylen and say, "God, would you speak mightily through Kylen tonight?"

Lord Jesus, you know how much I enjoy hearing Kylen teach the Word of God. I think he is one of the most gifted, authentic communicators of truth, so I'm so glad these friends get to hear him tonight. But more than anything, more than they get to hear from Kylen, I pray that they would hear from you, that you would speak through Kylen to your people. Would you use him for your glory, but would you speak directly to our hearts? May we hear from you. We thank you that you've given us your Word so we might hear from you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Would you guys welcome Kylen Perry?

Kylen Perry: What's up, Porch? It's so good to be with you this Tuesday night. TA just introduced me, but I'll do it just for the sake of making friends with the room. I'm Kylen, young adults pastor in Houston, Texas. I heard some friends from Houston are in the room. That's good. I'm glad you guys made it. It's also so fun to be in Dallas. I'm not just saying that because I need to make alliances with y'all really fast in order for you to like me.

I'm saying that because I have a lot of love for the city because this city has meant so much to me. First and foremost, my wife is from Dallas, and I get to carry a piece of this town with me 24/7. So, I love the chance to know that. Then I have a lot of love for Dallas because the ministry I lead is from here. We are in Houston, yet we were a Porch.Live location.

Then, as we started to see God doing something really unique in our city, similar to what he's doing here, we started processing with the team, with Josiah, and we started talking about, "God, would you do something like what you're doing in Dallas in Houston?" So we set off. They commissioned us well, and we're seeing God do it. He's doing something really unique in our generation.

Then I'll say this. I have so much love for Dallas because I have a lot of love for TA. And I'm not just paying empty compliments. I was really judicious about thinking through this before walking up here. He has single-handedly marked my leadership more than anybody else I know of. He is quite possibly one of the most faithful people I know. So, Porch, you're in really good hands, and I'm grateful to see what God does over the course of his time here with all of you.

I'm excited to jump into the Word with you, but before we do that, can I tell you a story? So, a few years ago, Halloween was rolling around, and I had a group of friends who were wanting to throw a murder mystery party. Has anybody in here been to a murder mystery party before? So, they have a murder mystery party going on.

I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty skeptical about it. I don't really know. "Okay. We're going to dress up, put on costumes, and get some sort of identity we're supposed to act out over the course of the evening." I'm not a thespian, so I'm not really sure how this evening is going to go. Yet I show up, and people are all in. Like, mobsters, flappers… It's 1920s themed. Everybody is acting the part to the full. And they're not just looking the part; they're genuinely acting it.

With every single person came an envelope that gave a unique identity. In that envelope, as you read through the characteristics of your unique identity, what you found was it carried with it things that would be typical of your normal life. It would tell you about who your alliances were and who your enemies were and what your job struggles had been. It was all of the regular details of normal life.

So, everybody in the room is dressed to the nines. They have envelopes with information about who they're supposed to be that evening, and everybody is full tilt. They are all the way in, wanting to play this game as well as possible. I walked in skeptical, but, man, I don't play to participate. I'm here to win.

So, they flash the lights, a guy falls out, and the next thing you know, the murder has happened. I'm a police chief. That was my role the night of. So, I'm out there doing my due diligence. I'm collecting evidence. I'm conducting interviews. I'm making sure I'm going to get to the bottom of whoever this murderer is. I am going to win the evening.

Then intermission happens. We make it a couple of hours into the game, and the lights come back up. Everybody breaks character for a moment and gets a sip of water. What we find out is that there's more information for us to learn. I get a new envelope, which contains four very important words that changed the entire course of my evening: "You are the murderer."

You can imagine what happened to me in this moment. Literally, the entire time I had been playing this game, I had been angling in one direction, but in this moment, everything changed for me. I had to absolutely adapt to the fact that I could not be who I had been. I knew in that instance I had to be different things to different people. I had demands I had to satisfy because I wasn't safe with anyone. If people found out who I was and I was exposed, it would mean the end of my night.

Now, why do I tell you that? For a couple of reasons. First, to brag about the fact that I never got caught, and, secondly, to demonstrate how similar this is to the way so many of us live…except we're not in a game. So many of us feel like we have to be different things for different people because we're not safe being the real us with anyone.

The world is propagating this message, like, "Hey, you do you, bro," yet too often we realize, "Me being me isn't quite enough," so we start contorting ourselves. We contort ourselves professionally, socially, romantically, and even spiritually because we're trying to be enough for everybody out there until the point that we've contorted ourselves so much we don't even recognize ourselves anymore. Does this sound like you? This is my story.

The reason I wanted to unpack this Scripture we're going to be walking through tonight is because this is the greatest lesson God has taught me in the last two and a half years I've been in the city of Houston, so I want you to learn from my experience. It's not only a story that's personal to me; it's a story personal to the guy we're actually going to be looking at together tonight. We sang about him tonight…"The God of Jacob." We're going to look at Jacob's life.

If you have a Bible, you can turn with me to the book of Genesis. That's the first book, so you won't have to work hard to find it. What you'll find is that as we come to meet this guy named Jacob… He is one of the patriarchs in the Bible. He is a hero of the faith, and he is absolutely a scoundrel. The guy is a con artist. His name Ya`aqob means usurper or supplanter. His identity is one that says, "I am going to swindle my way into getting whatever it is I want."

As you read over the course of his life, which we're not going to do together tonight, but you can take my word for it… As you read his story, you find that's exactly what he does. He finesses his way into getting everything he wants. He becomes whatever he needs to become to achieve whatever he wants to achieve because he's really not happy with the way God made him.

So, we're going to look at his story tonight. What we find as we read along is that he's in a moment where all of his identity issues are about to be confronted because God shows up. It's in Genesis 32:22-24 that we read these words: "The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone."

We can't see it in these verses because we're catching this movie in the middle of its showing, yet what we need to know is the context around this story is critical in order for us to understand what exactly is going to happen. How is God going to confront all of Jacob's identity problems? What's he going to do? We have to understand the context here is that Jacob is in a moment where he's trying to preserve his life. He's doing what Jacob does.

He's angling and maneuvering. He's trying to make sure he can keep everything he has worked so hard to accumulate because his brother Esau is on his way to meet him, which sounds like a nice family reunion, yet the truth of the matter is that's not exactly what's going to happen. Esau is the brother he swindled out of all of his inheritance. He was the firstborn (Esau), yet Jacob convinced his father to give him the blessing instead. He deceived him. He lived up to his name.

What we know is, because of that, Jacob has inherited all sorts of wealth, property, and prominence in the region that deservedly belonged to Esau. So, Esau is on his way to meet his brother. They haven't talked since Jacob stole everything and snuck out the back door, and Esau is on his way, not by himself but with 400 armed men.

What do you think is playing through Jacob's mind right now? Payback. Like, "This guy is about to come get his pound of flesh. He wants to take me out and take everything I took from him." So, what does he do? It says. He starts trying to buy his brother off. He sends over all of his possessions, all of his property, even his own family, until he is at a point where he is totally left by himself. He is all alone. That's when God shows up.

It's not coincidental that God will only confront Jacob's identity issues when Jacob is at last alone. The same is true for you and me. If you want to get to the bottom of your identity crisis, your problem, your issues, then the first thing you need to know is you have to stop hiding behind other things. This is the way God will work in our lives as he tries to establish and affirm his God-given identity to us.

It isn't until we're truly alone with God that we're truly available to God, until we separate ourselves from the various things we find our identity in. I don't know what it is for you, but I know for myself, before I worked in ministry, I found my identity in my job, in my relationship status, how much money I was making, and what my friends thought of me. Every one of us is identifying with something other than God himself to find some sense of security in this life.

So, what's it for you? It's only after all of those things are rid from your presence, when everything is removed from you, that you become available for God to actually fix. You see, you have to be vulnerable to become fixable. Does anybody work in the medical field here? Yeah. They're quiet. They don't speak up. What they would tell you is in order to properly clean a wound, to dress a wound, you have to properly expose the wound.

I remember I was 14 years old. I was hooping in the driveway with my best friend. We were doing what boys do. We're out there. We lower the rim, and we start yamming it because we want to feel big. I'm out there, and I'm like, "Okay. I've got to one-up my buddy," so I decide to do Vince Carter's famous "arm through the rim" dunk. So, I go up, and I stuff myself on the rim. I fall to the asphalt, and as I hit the asphalt, I break my elbow.

So, we get up. We drive to the hospital. We pull in. I'm devastated, trying to hold it together, but certainly having a difficult time with it all. We walk in, and they begin to prepare to set it. Before they can set my elbow, they have to clean it because it was full of black asphalt. So, my nurse, this mountain of a man from East Texas, walks in with a little bitty scrubby brush and starts working my elbow. He is working so hard to clean the wound.

He told me, "I have to properly clean the wound. I have to expose the wound in order for us to dress this thing and set it correctly." The same is true with your identity. It has to be exposed. We have to be exposed if God is going to fix that which needs to be fixed in our lives. We must remove anything we would normally find security in until we are vulnerable enough for him to do his work.

From Jacob's example, we learn that we typically find security in one of two places. We didn't read it, but if you go and look at verses 13-21 in this chapter, you see that it lists out all of the things Jacob owns and sends away, and they fall into two categories: trophies and titles. What are trophies? Trophies are the possessions we acquire by adapting our identity.

These are the things your paycheck purchases for you, what your money goes to at the end of the day…the car you drive, the place you live in, the clothes you wear…whatever it is you spend your money on. These are the trophies you want to be associated with in your life. For Jacob, this was his property and his servants. This was all of his wealth. He sends all this stuff to his brother because he doesn't want his brother to come and do poorly with him.

In the same way, we find so much of our identity in the things we own. But it's not just that. It's also in titles, the positions we acquire by adapting our identity. For Jacob, because he stole from his brother and was trying to angle his way into security… What did he find? He became a husband, a father, an employer, and a property manager.

For you, it's going to be, "Man, I work in this job" or "I'm the most popular amongst my friends" or "I'm the best-looking in the room." I don't know what title it is for you, yet it's in trophies and titles that we find our security. God will take all of it away to fix you. He wants to pull all of it out of your life. That way you are vulnerable enough to at last be fixable as he wants.

This is the first thing we see as God comes to confront our identity problems, but it's not the last thing. The second thing we see is in verses 24-25. "And Jacob was left alone. And a man…" Spoiler alert: God. "…wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him."

We can admit this story is weird. There's nowhere else in the Bible that you're going to see God show up in human form and wrestle another guy down. This just doesn't happen. Yet whenever the Bible puts a story that is uniquely distinct from the rest of the Scripture, it's there for good reason. So, it begs the question…Why is this story in our Scripture? What is God trying to communicate?

Well, think about Jacob's situation. What's he trying to avoid? A fight. So that's exactly what God brings to him. Jacob is doing everything in his manipulative power to get away from fighting his brother, but it's only then that the real fight begins. He has nothing to hide behind. He's all alone, which is pretty profound. He has nothing, and it's that moment God shows up and begins to work him out.

You see, friends, God loves you too much to not confront your identity issues. He loves you too much. He doesn't want to leave you wrestling with whatever insecurities you feel about yourself, whatever anxiety hangs over you about those things you wish you could change that you cannot change. God wants to tackle that stuff head-on. He wants to confront it directly. Too often, we don't want this for ourselves, but God is a good Dad in doing so. It says in Hebrews 12:7:

"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons [and daughters]. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? […] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

If you are God's son in the room, if you are God's daughter in the room, he will discipline you because he loves you. Yet rather than let God deal with our insecurities and resolve our issues, we try to do it on our own. We often try to take care of our own problems and deal with our own insecurities our own way because we don't trust him. We trust ourselves instead.

We do it in a couple of different ways. Oftentimes, what I see as I work with young adults is when it comes to their insecurities, they try to suppress them. They try to squeeze them down as much as possible, minimize them to the point that you cannot see them. They try to avoid them. They try to ignore them. They try to do what I did to my truck in college.

I tried to ignore the fact that my truck had some steering issues until, eventually, the point I couldn't ignore it anymore. The steering column came loose from the front axle, and I needed to turn left. We were barely straight on. I was stuck in a moment of absolute crisis because I didn't trust "There's someone who knows better who can actually fix it." I ignored the problem. I suppressed it.

Or we obsess over it. We're so insecure, so we spend hours in front of the mirror just trying to make this work or we spend hours at the gym just trying to get the bicep to peak a little bit more or we spend hours thinking about conversations. "Man, I wish I hadn't said that" or "Why did I…? Stupid! Why did I say that one thing? What are they thinking about me right now?" We obsess over the fact that we have deep-rooted insecurities.

Rather than suppress them or obsess over them, we should confess them. We should just tell him. God knows. He made you. He literally put you together. He knows exactly the things you feel embarrassed by that you wish you could change, those aspects of your identity you're working so hard to contort and make sense to the rest of the world. He's like, "No, man. Just come to me with it. I'll fix it for you. I can fix that."

You see, the difference in who you are today and who you become tomorrow is found by way of wrestling with him. So, we don't avoid the fight. We don't run from it. He wants to engage with us, so we engage with him and trust him to deal really kindly with us, because that's his heart. What we find is it's not a very pleasant experience. I don't know what you're expecting, but if you've ever wrestled before, wrestling is anything but easy. And they don't just wrestle. They do it all night long. This is going to be difficult.

As a peer to you, I just want to look at you and say: if you're signing up for this, it is for your good, yet it will be really difficult. But it's worth it. This is what we're called to do, because on the other side of it there's blessing. That's where it goes on as we read along. It says in verse 26, "Then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.'" "Come on, bro. This is sensible. Man, we've been at this all night. Let me go. The day has broken."

"But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?'" Do you hear the question about identity? Jacob, for the first time in his life, answers honestly. If you read Jacob's story, what you find is there are two moments where he's asked, "Who are you?" The first time, he flat-out lies. He says he is Esau. He calls himself by his brother's name because, again, he wants to become something he isn't to get something he can't.

Yet in this moment, he finally 'fesses up. "No, man. I'm Jacob. This is who I am. I have nothing else to hide behind, and I've been wrestling with you all night long. What more do I have to lose? I'm Jacob." He answers honestly for the first time. What we see is it makes all the difference, because he realizes he can't become something he isn't to get something he can't.

I remember my first year working for Breakaway when T and I first started out together. Every year, we would do this gathering. It was men's and women's Breakaway. It would be a worship gathering for the boys and a worship gathering for the girls, and we'd bring in equally great guest speakers for both groups.

I'm a guy on staff, so I'm likely not going to be with the ladies. I make my way to hang out with the boys that night. So, we're doing worship, and it's amazing. I'm sitting with our guest speaker. I'm kind of hosting him for the night, making sure he has everything he needs. Then, as I'm surveying the room, just looking around, I notice there are two guys sitting three-quarters of the way in the back.

They're just far enough that I can't make out what they look like, but they're sitting there, and they have hats pulled on, hoodies over the hats, and sunshades on in a worship center, which is just suspicious behavior. Can we admit? Why do you need shades on when the lights are out? It makes no sense whatsoever. So, I do what any sensible person would do. I go to investigate.

I make my way over. I sneak around the back. I get close to where they're sitting. You'll never guess what I found. Not two guys but two girls sitting in the men's worship gathering. (Are you in here by chance, the two ladies who did this? I would love to know if it's you.) These two ladies are sitting in our worship gathering with all of the boys. So I had to ask them. I'm like, "What are y'all doing in here?" "We just love this guest speaker." You see, they became something they weren't to get something they couldn't.

That's exactly what Jacob does, and so many of us do this too. So many of us become things we're not to get things we can't when, instead… Our third step toward working through our identity problems is we need to start admitting who we are. That's what Jacob does. He finally owns the fact that his name is Jacob and he's not Esau, which is big, because this guy has built his entire life, his wealth, and his family… His entire existence has revolved around the idea of being someone else who he thought had a better advantage, a better first step in life than he did.

He built his whole existence on this reality that he was someone else, yet in this moment, he finally 'fesses up and owns, "That's not me. I'm someone different." It's in that moment that, finally, guess what? He gets what he has always wanted: a blessing. He lied to his dad and deceived his brother to get the blessing that God always intended to give to him if he would just be willing to own the fact that he was who God made him to be.

Friends, God has a blessing for you. I'm not saying what that blessing is. That doesn't mean you're going to get some fat check that you're going to be able to cash and go buy whatever you want. It doesn't mean you're going to get the dream job you've always aspired for. It doesn't mean you're going to meet that guy or that girl this year. I hate to break it to you. What it does mean, though, is that God knows better what's intended for your future than you do. You can trust him with it.

That's what this all boils down to: a lack of trust in God. "God, you don't know what I need. You don't know as well as I do. I know me. You don't know me like I know me." He's sitting here, saying, "If only you would trust me and admit the fact that I've made you as you are, I'd lead you into places the likes of which you've never dreamed you'd go. I would take you toward blessing you've always wanted, but you have to stop relying on yourself."

This is what he's doing with Jacob, and he wants us to admit the same. This is a really hard thing to do. Nothing about this talk is easy. Wrestling with God? That sucks. It's a really hard thing. I've been there. Admitting the fact that you're not as awesome as you try to make everyone else think you are is difficult too. It takes a great deal of humility to sit in front of God himself as well as others and say, "I don't have it all together like you think."

But it's in that place that God says, "Exactly! And I can work with that. I've made you as you are. Stop trying to be something you're not. Stop faking it, finessing it to put on some sort of façade that fools the world into thinking you're much more than I've actually made. No, if you would just trust me, I will make you all of that and more."

You see, we have to reckon with the reality that God didn't misassemble the parts when he designed you. You didn't fall into the defective pile. You're exactly as he wants. That's what Psalm 139 tells us. It says in verses 13-16, "For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." God's own hands were on your life.

Whatever the thing is that you hate about yourself… God's own hand was put to it. The fact that you don't like the way you look, the social quirks you have, the way you talk, that you're not as tall as you wish…whatever it is. God made you like that. The greatest commandment is "Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, and mind." Heart we can figure out. That makes sense. Mind makes sense. "Okay. Let me fix my attention on you, God." Affections and attention.

But what is the point with loving God with your soul? How does that work? Anybody? Have you ever wondered, "Love God with your soul? I don't know. That feels crazy." It means to love God exactly as he has designed you to be. That word for soul in Hebrew is the word nephesh. It can be translated as breath as well. God breathed into you a God-given identity, and you cannot love him fully until you live into that fully. He has given you a very specific design. He formed your inward parts. He knit you together in your mother's womb.

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

Friends, I don't know if anyone has ever told you this, and I don't know how easy this will be to receive, yet you need to know you have been so intentionally and so beautifully designed by God. I am telling this to you as a guy who needed someone to speak it to me, who wanted so badly for the approval and acceptance of others that I would do anything to get it when, in reality, I am already all that God wants. I'm exactly as he intrinsically designed.

Who you are intrinsically is from God, but catch this: who you become eventually is for God. This is not a license to sin. This is not an opportunity to say, "Well, God made me this way, so deal with it." That's not what I'm communicating here. This is an acknowledgment that "God, you've made me in your image, and you have designed me for your purposes." When we reckon with that, we can admit who we are. That's the third step. The fourth step we find in verses 28-30.

"Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And there he blessed him." I love that God asks him that. "Why are you asking me? I just threw your hip socket out with the touch of a finger. It's pretty obvious." And he gets it. "So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.'"

What does God say to Jacob in this moment? After all the frustration and the fighting, God looks at Jacob and says, "You want a new identity? You can't give it to yourself. You want a new future, a new destiny? You can't find that either. I can give it to you. I'm the one who gives new identity. I'm the one who gives new destiny. You want a new purpose? Then come here. Stop trying on your own. Stop wrestling it out on your own grit. Just come to me, and we can work together. I have great plans. I'll lead you to them. Just come here."

He does, and do you know what he finds? A name that, to this day, still describes the people of God according to our Scriptures. The nation of Israel were the children of Israel, and to this day, as God has sent his own Son, we have all been invited into his family. Jacob not only got a new name, a greater identity than he could ever find on his own, but he got a greater destiny. He got to live toward something that would be a blessing to everyone.

The same can be true for you. How? When you have seen God face-to-face and yet been delivered, when you meet Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, face-to-face with you and me and wanting to give away new identity, wanting to call you by a new name, wanting to invite you into new purpose, wanting to assign you to a new destiny. That's what happens. Whenever we place our faith in God and enter into his family, what we find is that everything changes.

Do you want stuff to change? All you have to do is believe, and that fast, it's all different. You see, when you place your faith in Jesus, what 2 Corinthians tells us is that God gives you a new identity. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Once you place your faith in Jesus, he gives you a new destiny.

First Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." This is available to you if you do the fourth and final step, if you at last start accepting what God says about you. "I have a new name, and I have a new purpose. I can give you new identity. I can give you new destiny. Just come to me."

The reason we all know it's true is because God has sent his own Son to change you in ways the likes of which you could never change yourself. So, friends, stop hating your hardwiring. Stop indulging your insecurities. Instead, embrace the fact that your story is forever different because Jesus, the Son of God, the long-proclaimed Messiah, entered into our story and changed it forever.

You see, when Jesus came in the flesh, the Son of God become the Son of Man, when he stepped into our world… Jesus never once hid who he was. He always made perfectly clear, "Hey, I am who I say I am. I'm perfect. I'm totally secure. I'm unafraid of anything." Sure, sometimes he would veil it, but it was to accomplish God's greater good. When it mattered, at the final moment, he didn't hide at all but bore his identity fully that the world might find their own, that we might not hide any longer.

Jesus never ran from the fight. Every single one of us, enslaved to our sin, was bound and captive, led into darkness, yet Jesus Christ didn't run away from what was a really terrifying situation. He ran straight into it. He entered into the fray. He crossed the halls of heaven and the corridors of history to get to you and me. He did it because he wanted you for himself. He wanted to give you a new identity. He never once concealed who he was, but he admitted it by way of living the perfect life and doing what we could not, dying the death we all deserve.

The wages of sin is death. That's what we deserve: eternal separation from God. Jesus stepped into the story, not concealing himself but admitting who he is, that by his life and his death and then on his resurrection he could declare, "I am who I say I am, and any who would place their faith in me shall follow me where I go."

Amazingly, Jesus never rejected what God said about you and me in his life, despite the way people treated him, despite the sinfulness of us all. Jesus knew, "God has called you sons and daughters, so I will look upon you and call you brothers and sisters. When you scorn me, I'll serve you. When you mock me, I'll still meet with you. When you hate me, I'll love you."

This is the heart of our God for you. Do you want a new identity? Do you have problems with the way things are? Stop trying to do it on your own, because there is infinite blessing, better identity, and greater destiny with him than you'll find anywhere else. Let me pray for us.

Father, as I consider the implications of a message like this, a talk from the truth of your Word, so consequential, Lord, that I fear any would miss it… As I think about that, God, I just genuinely want you to come and move amongst us. That has been the heart all night, yet, God, now in this moment, as people reckon with the things they dislike about themselves, the insecurities they try to stuff down or compensate for on their own… As they consider, God, what may feel deficient in their life, even distressing, I pray, God, they would know you're here and are saying, "Come to me."

For some, God, it's going to require a fight. It's going to require a wrestling match. That's what it required for me. I had to fight with you, Lord, yet I'm so much better on the other side of it. I know they will be too. Some here tonight, God, have reached the end of themselves. They have bottomed out, and it's now, God, that you want to work. I pray they know, Lord, though they may have been laid low, you, God, will raise them high, because you pull them to yourself and make them like your Son.

Others, God, have not reached that place, but they're here tonight, and they know, "I'm watching these things, listening to these things, saying these things, thinking these things, and going these places, behaving like this, all because I do have some insecurities, some things about myself I don't like. I'm mismanaging my money. I'm mismanaging my calendar. I'm being foolish in my conduct because I just want people to like me. I just want others' acceptance. I just want to be enough." By the shed blood and body of your Son, you have already declared to all "You're enough."

If that's you tonight, stop striving and start surrendering. We're going to move to a time of worship now, and it's a chance for you to stand and engage honestly in a moment with the Lord, to take off the mask, to stop saving face, and to engage with him right where you are; to not hide behind things, to not run from the fight, but to admit who you are and accept what he says. "You're forgiven. You're loved. You're mine." It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.