Today marks the official release of Pastor Mark’s latest book, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. For a number of reasons, I’m excited about what this book means for our church. Here they are.
1. It’s all about Jesus
At Mars Hill Church, we’re good at talking about the fact that we’re sinners in need of a Savior. But as the book points out, “Rather than sinners, the Bible overwhelmingly calls us ‘saints,’ ‘holy,’ or ‘righteous’ more than 200 times. Biblically, then, the primary identity of a believer in Chris is not as sinner but as saint” (p. 35).
Dwelling on our identity as sinners leads us to focus on ourselves. Receiving our identity as saints shifts the focus to Jesus: who he is and what he’s done for us. We’re not saints because we’re good—we’re saints because he is good.
2. It applies to everyone
Anyone at any age is susceptible to an identity crisis. Depending on your stage of life you may call it peer pressure, graduation, prolonged adolescence, midlife crisis, retirement, etc. All of us need to hear the message of this book: we are not what we own, what we accomplish, or which clique we run with. “This book is dedicated to helping you discover the power and joy that is found only in an identity founded and sustained in and by Jesus” (14). That’s wisdom for all ages.
3. It’s timely
The age of social media makes it easy to feel inadequate, lonely, and restless. This book is a call to reset priorities, course correct, and reflect on what we’re living for, all the more appropriate for a new year. It’s a call to action, because “in Christ, you have both a new identity and a new community [the church] where you learn more about your new identity as you use your gifts to serve and are served by the gifts of others” (123).
4. It’s a group project
In preparation for the book, Pastor Mark collected stories from a number of people at Mars Hill Church, whose stories serve as real-life illustrations that testify to the goodness and truth of Jesus. These applications make the book incredibly practical, not abstract or idealistic. Also, the study guide resource that’s available along with the book was written by men and women at Mars Hill Church, mostly volunteers.
5. It’s part of a larger effort to help our church
This week we begin our new sermon series in Ephesians, and we’ve never been more prepared. Along with the book, we’ve also published a DVD sessions curriculum and the study guide resource, which includes daily devotionals, a small group guide, a student ministry guide, and a women’s ministry guide. (And here are all the materials together.)
All of our Community Group leaders received a copy of the book for free, and everything is available to everyone at the lowest possible cost. (Pastor Mark doesn’t make any money off of the study materials or any books sold at Mars Hill Church locations.) If you come on Sunday, we’ll even give you a free Bible so you can study Ephesians with us.
The point is, we want you to grow and learn and mature and enjoy a relationship with Jesus. This book is just one way we’re trying to help, and I believe Pastor Mark has done a great job. His heart is evident throughout the pages, and I’m grateful for his service to us as a church.