and i will give them one heart, and a new spirit i will put within them. i will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. and they shall be my people, and i will be their God. [ezekiel 11:19–20]
the year was 2002. one of the most clear memories i have. sitting on the edge of the stage in our high school auditorium. the crowd had cleared out after our final performance of the spring musical. everyone was in the dressing rooms getting ready to leave for the cast party to celebrate. as i sat alone in the empty theater, i could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. one by one i was joined on stage by my fellow seniors as they left the dressing rooms. instead of heading out right away for the party, we sat on the stage and laughed and cried as we realized this was the last time we would be wrapping a show together. that group of people had been a family together through four years of high school, and two years of junior high before that. late nights working lines together, building sets, sewing costumes, auditions – and all of the ups and downs of high school life in general. being a part of the theater crew was part of who we were. and this was the end of that piece of our identity.
one of the most amazing truths about the gospel is that it completely changes your identity – and not just in an individual way, but in a corporate sense. not only are you made new as an individual, but you are a part of a new corporate body – the church, God’s people. look closely at this passage from ezekiel…God says he will give his people one heart. a new spirit, heart of flesh, all of those aspects are built off of one heart. these are corporate statements. as a new creation in Christ, we are united to other believers through Christ as well and this is part of our identity. we are a family, a group of believers that shares one heart of flesh. and as those people, he is our God. these are identity statements.
but, this is not a family that fades over time. this is not high school theater (obviously). it is true of us from today until eternity. that we will forever be the people of God. so today, i encourage you to recognize the beauty of this truth – that you are united with the church throughout history. that you have been given a new identity in an individual sense and a corporate sense as well. and, as a member of the people of God, sit in his presence in confidence that this is the relationship you have with him, and worship him for that truth today.
~ keith kozlowski