This evening we begin a new series looking at Paul's letter to the Philippians, the epistle of joy.
And we're going to start out looking at the background of how this church was planted in Act 16. And look at the first verse of salutation-that shows us the identity of these Philippians believers. And in doing so we'll see 2 aspects of our own identity.
Our identity is very important. We live in a day when Identity Theft is a major issue. With credit cards and online banking, all it takes is a few numbers, and much of our assets can be stolen. So we rightly fear having our identity stolen by crooks.
And the irony is that crooks are often afraid they're going to be matched with their identity. Police in Lincoln, England went to arrest a wanted criminal named Wayne Black. When they police went to arrest the suspect, the man insisted he wasn't Wayne Black. Until the police pointed to a tattoo across his forehead with 3 words, "I'm Wayne Black."
Others of you feel like you're losing your identity to your job.
You used to have your own personality, your own ambitions and dreams. Now you're just a corporate robot. Your job consumes all of your life.
Maybe you feel like you're losing your identity to your kids.
You and your husband used to sleep whenever you wanted, eat whenever you wanted, go out whenever you wanted. And now you feel like you're under house arrest-tied down to the kids. In fact, you'd be glad to wear a monitoring device if you could just go out by yourself for a couple hours.
Maybe as a Christian you've had an identity crisis. You've wondered who you are as a believer. I had a new Christian come up to me with a very serious question. He asked me how I thought God viewed him. He said "I've been called derogatory names all my life, made fun of by my own family. They labeled me as 'damaged goods.' Is that how God views me?"
And so I took him to the first verse of Philippians 1. Who are we as Christians?