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In a culture of anxiety, you're more powerful than you believe (book excerpt)

This is an excerpt from Matt Chandler's upcoming book The Overcomers: How to Thrive in a Culture of Anxiety and Outrage.

Unsplash/Alejandro Tocornal
Unsplash/Alejandro Tocornal

On Sunday mornings, I usually get up several hours earlier than anyone else in our home. My crew goes to our church’s 11 a.m. service, and they are happily asleep when my alarm goes off around 5 a.m. So, I grope around in the dark for clothes and shoes. I’m not fashion-forward or trendy, so it’s not overly imperative that I get the right outfit. I have what my wife, Lauren, calls “a uniform” — jeans, a button-up or polo, and boots.

If I’m wearing a button-up, I pull down the shirt and make sure I get the bottom button right. If I don’t, the shirt looks janky and certainly would distract the congregation as I preached. So, I want to start our journey in this book with the bottom button.

You are made in God’s image

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The first thing you must understand is simple: you are made in God’s image.

This fact alone makes you spectacularly distinct from the rest of creation. It’s not just that you are different and more valuable than every other animal. You’re also separate from inanimate objects like the land, sky, and stars. But as an image bearer, what makes you so incredible is that, according to Genesis 1:26–27, you are like God somehow.

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and 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. Think about that. You are somehow like the creator God of the universe. Keep in mind that being like God is very different than being God Himself. But you were created to reflect the God of the universe simply in your being.

You are a child of God

The next thing you need to understand is that if you’re a Christian, you are a child of God, adopted by the blood of Jesus into the family of God with all the rights and privileges of belonging to God’s family. You are an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. This is your primary identity. More than being a husband or wife or friend or mother, father, son, daughter, lawyer or graphic designer, or welder or teacher. You get the point — you are a child of God.

You are with Jesus, and He is with you. You have access to the Father and to “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Every other false identity or projected image of yourself that you might latch onto to give you confidence, security, or reassurance can be stolen from you. But the fact is, you belong to God, and He won’t ever let you go.

But there’s more: As your heavenly Father, God delights in you. Don’t roll your eyes. I’m serious. God delights in you, not because of anything you have accomplished but because of who you are, His child. If you’re a parent, you know the deep love you have for your children, even on their worst days.

God doesn’t regret saving you either. He isn’t in love with the future you, the person you might become. He cherishes you right now with all your disappointments and dramas, doubts and fears, anxieties and anger. He sees you; He knows where He’s leading you, and He is all-in on His glory being revealed in you. I would call this your general identity.

This is excellent news because you don’t have to create a version of yourself or seek to define yourself in a particular way. God created you, and God will define you! We’ll talk more about this later, but the more you understand that you are His child, the more you become yourself — your true self.

Accepting and embracing your general identity as a child of God and believing it in your gut is the first step in recognizing your true worth. Everything else about you and how God sees you, designed you, and has placed you today hinges on your understanding that you are made in His image and appointed an heir to His Kingdom.

Matt Chandler is a husband, father, pastor, elder, and author whose greatest desire is to make much of Jesus. He has served over 20 years as the Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX, which recently transitioned its five campuses into their own autonomous churches. He is also the Executive Chairman of the Acts 29 Network, a large church planting community that trains and equips church planters across the globe.  

Matt is known around the world for proclaiming the gospel in a powerful and down-to-earth way and enjoys traveling to share the message of Jesus whenever he can. He lives in Texas with his beautiful wife, Lauren, and their three children, Audrey, Reid, and Norah.  

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