Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has written a beautiful primer on rediscovering (or discovering for the first time) the essential need to completely grasp what it means to put on Christ. Our identity, as Christians or Christ followers, is paramount to living fully here on earth. Driscoll, whose style is always warm yet gently challenging, works hard to explain his premise through his exposition of the Book of Ephesians.
Beginning his text with historical and biblical foundational information about the Ephesians as a people and a culture, Driscoll lays the groundwork for how key this particular text is for today’s Christian. He shares how he sees people in his pastoral ministry daily who have lost their identity in Christ (and as God’s beloved child). This loss all too often defines and stymies their faith walk as it confines them to past failures, sufferings, inadequacies and pain. Driscoll wisely opens the Word of God and offers these individuals plain truth from the Bible and assists them in redefining who they are by God’s definition, not the world’s. It’s difficult work, to be sure, but oh so necessary for the man or woman who wants freedom from yesterday’s pain.
"Hope is found on every page of this tremendously helpful text. Kudos to Mark Driscoll for addressing such an important principle that so many in Christ’s family struggle to understand."
What better place to start than in the first book of the Bible, Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the seas, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Driscoll then writes how instead of ruling as God intended and worshipping the Creator, humans quickly turn from their God-given identity and create idols to fill their inner heart’s needs. Idols not of wood and stone, but as Driscoll describes, “idols of items, duties, others, longings, and sufferings.”
Today’s idols consist of items: what we own is our public way of projecting our desired image. Duties: if you find your identity in the achievement of your duties, you’ll always search for something to excel in so as to outperform others and demonstrate your authority. Others: obtaining an identity from our relationships can manifest itself in the idols of independence and dependence. Longings: our feelings and our future rather than our present can inordinately govern our life. Sufferings: when we suffer, we can easily allow our hurt to become our identity.
Driscoll first explains the most common obstacles to fulfilling and embracing our identity in Christ, and then he spends 16 chapters specifically offering encouragement directly from the Book of Ephesians about how we should view our identity. This dynamic list includes: I am…in Christ, a saint, blessed, appreciated, saved, reconciled, afflicted, heard, gifted, new, forgiven, adopted, loved, rewarded, and victorious. Each chapter opens with a portion of scripture found in Ephesians, followed by a poignant true-life story of a person who has lived out that specific chapter’s topic. Driscoll then unpacks the biblical principles and provides fresh ways to turn from old thinking to renewed righteous thinking and living.
Hope is found on every page of this tremendously helpful text. Kudos to Mark Driscoll for addressing such an important principle that so many in Christ’s family struggle to understand.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on January 15, 2013