Following Jesus is basically learning to live out our new identity in Christ. But it’s difficult because we’ve spent so much of our lives living from our orphan identities. To live from our new identity as children of God requires intention and practice. We must unlearn the heart-habits of orphanhood and embrace the heart-habits of childlikeness.


To help us do this, we’re going to look at different Bible characters throughout this series, one for each of the 9 identity traps, and their journey of identity transformation from living as orphans to living as children of God.


In this sermon, we look at Joseph’s identity trap: seeking significance through people.


Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham. His is an amazing story, because not only is God bringing salvation to His people through Joseph’s life-story, He is also bringing about deep transformation in Joseph’s identity along the way.


The story has three key points:


  1. Joseph’s Dream: Joseph’s identity is built around gaining significance through people. Joseph wants to be great and to be recognized as such, especially by his own family. That’s Joseph’s dream. His orphan-hearted identity is to gain significance through people.
  2. Joseph’s Nightmare: If your identity is built around gaining significance through the recognition of people, what would be your greatest fear? Rejection and abandonment by other people. And when we pursue significance through this means, that’s exactly what happens. Joseph’s sense of significance is dashed as people reject, betray, abandon, dishonor, and forget him. Through each of the hard moments in his life, God is showing Joseph that people will never be able the give him the significance he longs for.
  3. Joseph’s Awakening: Joseph’s forgiveness reveals his transformed identity as he now finds his significance in relationship to God. Joseph realizes that if he has the approval of God, he can face the rejection of humanity, even from his family. Joseph learned to live as a child of God graced with significance from on high.


Takeaway: The significance our souls desperately need is conferred by our Father.


Human approval, recognition, popularity, honor‑—these are all cheap imitations of the real significance you and I were made for. In Jesus Christ, we have been graced with a significance that is weighty and durable and thick, because we have been adopted as children of God. We are sons and daughters of the King.


Genesis 30-50


Living the Message episode: