When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-19
We will be given many labels is our lives. Some will be good. Others will be bad. Some will build us up; some will tear us down. The opinions of others about us are powerful things, but only because we are carnally minded and not heavenly minded.
We are not the sum of our past mistakes. We are not the perception of others. We are not our appearance. We are not our weight or our wardrobe. We are who God says we are.
We are chosen and holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12). He has written us on the palms of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). He has rescued and redeemed us (Colossians 1:13). He has forgiven our mistakes and failures (Daniel 9:9 and SCORES of others). He has removed our guilt (Psalm 103:12) and given us the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22). He has made us sons and daughters of the King of Kings (1John 3:1-2) and co-heirs with Christ Himself (Romans 8:17). He catches our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), and someday He will wipe all the tears from our eyes personally and eternally in the place where there is no more sorrow. (Revelation 21:4).
But until then, we live here on earth, foreigners and strangers in a strange and hostile land and we must look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, for strength and courage and wisdom not to this world or the things of this world.
We are not who people say that we are or judge us to be any more than Jesus was Elijah or anyone else, including a servant of Satan, that people said He was. He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, our Redeemer, our Solid Rock, our Comforter, our Salvation, our Light and our Gateway to Eternal Life. He was, and is, who God said He was and is. God promised that when we accepted Christ as the Lord of our lives, that we would have a new nature, one like Christ Himself, and that we would be restored and made new again.
We might have been something else in our former life before Jesus, but we are a new creature now with a new nature and a new identity; we have been given a new name by God Himself. We have been given the gift of putting away the former things because God is making ALL THINGS new, including us.
If we are carrying hurts from our past because of the things that people said about us–we are fat, ugly, stupid, useless or will never amount to anything –we can lay those things down at the foot of the cross. Jesus has BROKEN their power over us and Jesus says that we are His friend and brother and a conqueror; we are beautiful in His eyes. God looks at our hearts and He sees Jesus, Whom He loves and Who gave up everything to the obedience of God and His calling. Jesus came to set the captives free and to bind up the broken hearted. That’s us, locked in the bonds of the judgments of this world and broken hearted from chasing its goods and values, buying into the deception that it has anything for us at all, when all it really has is heartache.
Let go of this world and grab onto the things of God. Store up treasure in Heaven, as God commands and be released from bondage. We can be set free. The door is open but it is up to us to walk out of the cell.