Sunday, March 9, 2014

Identity Crisis - Acts 7:35

By Odon Bulamba

Any single person in New Zealand may hold an identity in order to be able identify yourself.  When the police ask me to identify myself they will say that telling them my name is not enough because they need more, they will ask me to provide proof that the person I say am is correct.  In New Zealand, a driver’s license is enough to prove your identity.


In my country of origin (Congo) a driver’s license doesn’t exist and many people don’t have a passport so to identify myself I will tell you my father’s name, my grandfather’s name, my tribe and where it is located and the chief of that tribe.  This means that in Congo you have to know your roots to clearly identify where you are from because anybody can steal your passport.


The true identity can never be changed.  An identity crisis is to forget who you are and in the Bible we have such stories where people don’t know who they are. 


Acts 7:35, “This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.”


This Moses who was a human being was told in front of his brothers, “who made you to be a ruler and a judge?”  But of course, we know that Moses was called by God to be a ruler and a deliverer.  I’m reading this verse because of what was said the last Sunday service where I talked about the nest and said, “you should never die in your nest”.  In your nest the eagle chicks are just there to wait for their mother to do everything for them.  In the first few weeks they don’t have any feathers so that cold and rain can attack them and they face any season and are completely powerless but the eagle mother will come and protect them against any danger. 


Those chicks don’t know who they are in the same way when we were saved we were spiritual babies.  Just like when we were first physically born, we were babies and we didn’t know that we were a human being.  Babies don’t think or act like an adult or even make an effort to discover their identity.


The first category of Christians are those that act according to their flesh with one foot in world and another in Kingdom of God. The second category of Christians are those that are spiritual and stick with God and are committed to work with God until the end of life and when they do make mistakes they repent quickly.  The third category of Christians are also known as animal Christians because they know about Word of God but spiritually they behave just like animals.


Identity is important and when you don’t know who you are it means you are wrong because we should know our identity in the Kingdom of God.  The eagle chicks will start to grow big and their feathers will grow and some chicks will try to remove the feathers but the body will keep growing regardless of having no feathers.  Like us, when we try to shave our head, the hair keeps growing without explanation. When I was a child I asked my mother, “why does God have such a big store of hair”.  I blamed God because it’s so painful to cut African hair when it’s dry so I wished it wouldn’t keep growing after it was cut.  In the same way that God makes things to grow physically, He also makes things miraculously to grow up inside of us without us knowing. 


Eagle chicks at some stage are supposed to leave the nest and live their lives outside of the nest and the mother won’t come back anymore to feed them.  Once this chick leaves the nest, they have to work for themselves.  This is the same for us Christians, a point comes when we have to work for ourselves and we have to know our own identity because we are not spiritual babies anymore – we can read the Bible and understand it and what God wants from me and we can pray and know who we are in God.


One time I heard a story about a hen that didn’t want to die so she thought, “let me remove my feathers so they won’t know I am ready to eat and will still think I’m a chick,” but the size will let us know that the chicken is no longer a baby.  You and I don’t want to work spiritually and we try to stay behind.  Are you strong enough to collect the food to bring those who are spiritual babies?  Eagle chicks try to keep their eyesight short in the same way that people don’t want to know what God is doing, or know that Jesus is coming soon.  They only want to hear about the blessings and what good things God will do for us.


When Moses was in the palace of Pharaoh, he grew up in that town as a prince but did he know that he wasn’t a prince?  The Bible says that everybody bowed before Moses and respected him because he was a powerful man.  At some point Moses started to see there was a connection between him and the Hebrews and he decided to go and see his brothers working but when he saw them something touched his heart.  Sometimes we feel we have to pray for others and we have to come close to pray for our brother who is maybe a drunkard and we feel it is painful, and we pray, “God he has been living this life of torture for long now and if Jesus comes back where will he be?” and you feel sorry in your heart because the person lives in slavery.


Moses saw how his brothers were tortured and he killed an Egyptian.  The next morning two brothers were fighting and he gave simple advice not to fight and they said, ‘who are you to make yourself a judge and ruler of us’.  How often in your life do you try to intervene in a situation believing you will bring a solution but everything falls on you and suddenly you get all the blame. 


Moses until that minute knew he was Hebrew but also knew he was Egyptian.  Let me be honest...if New Zealand provides me everything…their passport, food, and beautiful country, nationality and my other country (Congo) is in war and someone will ask me what is your nationality I will say New Zealander because I don’t live the life of Congo anymore.  I took the nationality of New Zealand and lost the nationality of Congo.


Moses was confuse, “who am I exactly?”  He was telling himself, “I know I’m a prince” in the same way we tell ourselves, “I know myself and I can’t do that, I can never be tempted in that way, I’m never rude or proud”.  Maybe you are still a chick spiritually but you believe you are an adult.  Maybe you believe you are something that you are not.


Moses knew he was in danger of being killed by Pharaoh for killing an Egyptian so he ran from the punishment.  He ran into the desert where there are no roads so he didn’t know where he was heading.  Suddenly God changed Moses’ life from being a prince to being a refugee.  In New Zealand, people are so good, if they are in trouble they surrender themselves to the police but in Congo that would never happen because they would be afraid of dying.  If you ran over someone in Congo you would run away because people would burn you in your car immediately and the police would do nothing.


Moses met the seven daughters of Jethro which means ‘exodus’.  Jethro’s other name was Reul which means ‘friend of God’.  Those girls reported to their father that they had met an Egyptian (not a Hebrew man) and he told them to bring the man to him.  Moses was now in the house of ‘exodus, friend of God’.  If you meet someone called friend of God, you will feel everything now will be fine.  In Jethro’s house, regardless of the garment Moses was wearing, he was offered the job to take care of the sheep.  Moses now had to discover his true identity - not what he found in Egypt but what he found in Jethro’s house.


Jethro may have said something like, “Moses take off your jacket, what time did you start your day in Egypt…oh, Moses, here in Midian you will wake up at 4am and go to count the sheep without having breakfast”.  When you wake up, what is the first thing you do in the morning?  Do you give glory to God?  We can praise God because, “My hands work, my arms move” and we can count all the blessings to praise God for everything.


Jethro may have continued, “Ok Moses you have counted sheep, now clean that area, clean the mess from the sheep”.  Maybe Moses replied, “but I’m a prince. “Yes you used to be but here your identity has changed”.  Moses would have cleaned and felt tired and pain and Jethro was there to tell him, “yes, you have to do it” and maybe Moses said, “but your name means ‘friend of God’, how can you as a believer force me to do this”.  Sometimes your children, friends etc will think you are mean to them when you say no and tell you that a Christian wouldn’t do this.  Sometimes we blame satan for a situation we are crossing saying that God would never allow this.


Then Moses had to lead the sheep after cleaning in order feed them and give them water.  Waking up at 4am, cleaning mess and then 8am he has to take the sheep to feed them.  The desert is not like here in New Zealand with green everywhere.  Moses with zero knowledge of being a shepherd now has to play the role of a dog leading the sheep.  At the end of the day Moses came home completely tired.  For 40 years he hadn’t yet discovered yet exactly who he was.  Sometimes God can make Christians live for a very long time without discovering who they are.  When people are going to the nightclub they join them, they join the drugs and then at church they sing and when preacher starts to talk they feel bored and don’t have the joy to do God’s work. 


If I was Moses with Jethro treating me in that way, I would feel I should be somewhere else and I would run away to find a better a life.


We all fight for a better physical life (not spiritual) to feel comfortable where everything will please their bodies.  People will tell you they know who they are physically but they don’t themselves spiritually.  One time a person said to me, “I can’t share the Word of God because I’m not good looking”.  Do you really know who you are?  You stop yourself to look at your physical appearance while God has created us perfect.  It doesn’t matter what other people think of you so long as God remembers he created you, that is enough.


When Moses saw with the fire in the bush he decided to come closer.  That was the first time for God to speak to Moses - not when he first saw the fire, only when Moses came closer.  How often have you experienced the fire of God in worship, reading the Word of God, in someone’s preaching and then afterwards that fire is gone.  Moses wanted to come closer.  The Holy Spirit speaks to you and you feel it but what do you do afterwards? You close your Bible and say, “I’ll see you next week”. 


Moses stopped because he wanted to see how a fire could burn without consuming the bush – he wanted to understand how it works.  After reading the Word of God do you read it again back at home and ask yourself, what was the preacher telling me? Do you go back to the previous weeks?  My sister will take notes at church but later you will see those notes in the rubbish and when you ask her how was the preaching last week, she doesn’t remember.  Maybe you are one of those people - do you take notes to impress people?  There is no bigger mistake in life than cheating yourself.  People say, I’ve made a decision and this is what I will be, from now on I’ll be a good Christian and I’ll be committed to do this and that.  How many times did you tell yourself to be a very good committed Christian?  You make that decision today and tomorrow you forget about it.


When Moses was told by God, “this place is holy take off your shoes” Moses covered his face and understood that it was God speaking and forgot his duty with the sheep and now it was just him and God.  When you stand in the presence of God, are you there with God alone or are you thinking about your tasks, lunch after the service, family, and other people.  Many people are in church but their brain is somewhere else.  God is talking to them, odon, odon, take off your shoes and Odon thinks to himself, “it sounds like God” but then I’m quickly distracted, “oh, I have work tomorrow”.


God is trying to reveal your identity.  When you hear the voice of the father you hear your true identity but people try to shut him down and listen to other voices in their head.  When a program is changed people feel so bad but when an appointment with God is cancelled, they don’t care…it doesn’t matter we’ll have another opportunity.


When you start to commit yourself that is when God will reveal your true identity.  Moses was told by God, “go free My people”.  Moses was no longer a prince or shepherd but is now charged by God to work with people - more than 1.5 million human beings.  That’s more than 10 times the population of Hamilton to be freed by one person who was once told, “who made you to be a judge or ruler?”  Who are you, God is sending you to your family, your friends, your work collegues who humiliate you every time, while you are just a women or just a child. 


When I was a child, my sisters would isolate me because I was a boy.  Whatever I would say, they wouldn’t care.  Maybe you cross a situation where God puts you in a position in a community, church or work and no one will listen to you and they say, “who appointed you to be a judge or to give advice?”  The true identity God gives to us is to be a deliverer and judge so go back to those people and rule them, deliver them…how?  Once you know you are a deliverer or a ruler it will be very easy to be a servant of God, “my boss, how are you today?” find your way to start a conversation, “good to see nice weather today”.  Don’t stop there, they will fight against you but keep praying for them and go back to them.


When I was young, around 10-12 years old, in my country they started to immunize against cholera and to avoid that I would say I was too young and all my friends would say we are in the same class.  Sometimes we try to hide ourselves but the world and the Lord will expose us.  You are capable of fulfilling Gods work, just get yourself ready.


Moses tried to excuse himself, “I can’t talk” and we also try to use excuses.  You might not be ready but God is ready to use you, you might not feel strong enough but God is strong, just keep your commitment and God will discover your identity.


Anyone can sit an exam and if you fail, just take it again and again.  Make a decision to live as a person with an identity.  Ask God to clarify who you are, “am I a child or a chick, let me discover” and regardless of what happened previously, come close to God and let Him give you a mission for march. 


The mission for Moses was to be a leader.  “Lord if I’m a leader, show me how to do it, if I’m a messenger, show me how to preach, give me the tools” and whatever God gives you share and save as many people as possible.  Jesus was rejected, Moses was rejected and to be rejected is normal and the misfits are the ones that God uses.  You don’t fit in because God doesn’t want you to.


My son is good at dancing and everyone appreciates his dancing.  In church he doesn’t dance but out at a party he will prove to everyone how capable he is to dance but when it’s time to read the Bible there is zero chance he will do it.  I tell God, “look at this, what kind of child is this”.  He knows God but is too lazy and lacks commitment except for food.  He can move from outside and come home for food but after eating if I tell him to clean his plate he becomes sick.  He moves from happiness to sadness and tries to find another way.  If I ask him to vacuum it’ll take ten minutes to vacuum two meter square because he keeps changing the song on his i-pod instead of just working.  Why is he like that?  No commitment. 


It’s very important to identity yourself in Kingdom of God.  Come close to God and He will speak to you.  If you speak from a distance, God will say, “come close, I want to talk to you face to face and I will see those commitments”.  Moses did not know that he was a redeemer and ruler until he came close.


Pray for yourself and family and friends.