Finding Your Identity at Oakley

Finding Your Identity at Oakley

 

I am Oakley. It’s a phrase that we hear and say frequently around church, but what does it mean? Is it a slogan? A catch phrase? Jibber Jabber? Is it a way to spark interest? Or is there a deeper meaning? Any church, regardless of its name, is a living, breathing organism with active tentacles reaching into every aspect of life.

 

Worship? Check.

Bible Study? Check.

Prayer? Check.

Activities and Ministries? Check.

 

Every worshipful act, sermon heard and song sung makes up our identity as a church. Our collective identity is personal, unique and special, just like your own individual identity.

 

God has His own identity. Genesis 1:1 reads “In the Beginning, God.” This tells us before the beginning of time, God was. Now God is and He will forever be. God is also the One who spoke from a burning bush. Exodus 3:14 reveals God’s unique name, “I am that I am.” God is unique, and there is none like Him. Paul echoes these sentiments in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 when he writes, “for as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ…for in fact the body is not one member but many.” 

 

We have our identities too, rooted in Christ. The Bible is overflowing with verses describing our identity. As members of His church, we carry His name and love wherever we go. For “in Christ” we learn that we are considered “sons” in Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:5). We also know we are accepted unto Christ (Rom. 15:7) and are crucified with Him (Rom. 6:6). Also, we are considered a family in Christ and are chosen as a special possession of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). What an honor we are given to find our identities in Christ!

 

At Oakley Baptist Church, we all understand God gives to us different individual characteristics to make up the whole body of Christ. In other words, each believer brings to the table different and unique personal traits and talents that make up the body of Christ. The phrase, “I am Oakley” celebrates God’s individual traits at work in us. 

 

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul again writes, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” He describes the “unity” and the weight of our evangelistic calling. If, then, God has “joined and knit together” (16) the body of Christ for His purposes, the value of every church member is priceless. My calling is to preach, teach, disciple, and lead. Your calling may be to sing, mow the church’s grass, or support Vacation Bible School. Individually, we are limited to the extent of our eternal impact. But, together, we unite to become something larger than any one person. Together, we become the body of Christ. 

 

Contextually, “We are Oakley” is much more than a slogan. It represents the unique and individual calling that we all find in Christ. Where do you fit in? How will God use you to complete His church? If God has given us all talents, let’s use them for the collective whole and the good of the local assembly. It is in this context, which we can find our meaning in life - to love God and to love others. 

 

We are all united in the bonds of Christ. We are all given unique characteristics to edify this body. Individually, we are only one. But, together, we are one community with one mission - to love and to serve. We are all fellow believers in Christ. We are all missionaries sent to our local contexts. 

 

Together, we are Oakley. 

Dr. Jeff Johnson