Our Identity in Christ
Some things never change—the question “Who am I?” for example. That search for self is a universal, God-created experience. One thing that has changed in the last generation or two, though, is where people are looking for the answer. For many it’s not so much a search to find values and a purpose to base their lives on as a search for an identity, an image, with a heavy emphasis on individuality.
Never has there been so much importance put on expressing individuality as in today’s commerce and media-driven world. I did a quick search on the Internet and found 153,000 sites telling me how I could express my individuality—and most of them were selling something. There were the obvious ways (choice of clothes, hairstyle, music, diet, or car) and the more extreme (tattoos and body piercings). These days, anything marketable is fair game. Advertisements pitch items as diverse as custom cell phone tones, artisanal metal urns, hand drumming, and charity fund giving—all as means of expressing individuality. What consumers don’t seem to realize is that in their quest for individuality, they end up models of conformity—walking advertisements that promote other people’s ideas, tastes, creativity, and enterprise.
What was once a teenage rite of passage now follows us from cradle to grave—literally! A gift card company says, “You want your birth announcement to express your individuality in a special way.” A funeral home says, “Prearrangement means you can express your individuality in a funeral service.”
But stop and think. Are those surface things what make up the real you? Or is it the inner you, your spirit and the values motivating you and guiding your actions that determine the real you? What do you want to be known and remembered for—the image you project, or the positive influence you have on others? Who are you?
Who does God say I am?
We all want to know who we are. We seek and search and try to “find ourselves.” Many of us have taken personality tests and other assessments. We learn that we are a lion, a beaver, an ENFP, an activator, a competitor, a high I, high D.
But as helpful as those tests can be, have you ever stopped to ask, “What does God think about me? Who does he say that I am?”
In all my years as a Christian, I had never asked the question quite this way until recently. And what I found is that God has a lot to say about what he thinks about us—a whole Bible full. But if we could summarize it in a short space, here’s how it might sound.
You are valuable
I am the Creator and you are my creation. I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) I created you in my own image. (Genesis 1:27) My eyes saw your unformed substance. (Psalm 139:16) I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) I know the number of hairs on your head, and before a word is on your tongue, I know it. (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:4) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) …
However, from the very beginning, you exchanged the truth about me for a lie. You worshiped and served created things rather than me, the Creator. (Romans 1:25) You have sinned and fallen short of my glory. (Romans 3:23) …
And yet, in my great love, I gave my unique Son, that all those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) While you were still sinners, Christ died for you. While you were still hostile toward me, you were reconciled to me by the death of my Son. (Romans 5:8, 10) Sin doesn’t have the last word. Grace does. (Romans 5:20)
Now everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. (Romans 10:13) You who have believed are born again. (1 Peter 1:3) I have adopted you. (Ephesians 1:5) You are children of God, heirs of God. (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:16–17) …
One day you will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet sound. (1 Corinthians 15:52) … You will be delivered from your body of death through Jesus Christ, and your dwelling place will be with me. (Romans 7:24–25; John 14:3) And I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. (Revelation 21:3–4) … You will enter my rest, inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you, and step into fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. (Hebrews 4:9–11; Matthew 25:34; Psalm 16:11)
But most of all, you will see my face and be with me where I am. (Revelation 22:4; John 14:3)
Righteous, holy, and loved
Where do you find yourself seeking identity outside of Christ? Do you find yourself holding tightly to something, in fear that you’ll be lost without it? Sometimes in God’s grace, he allows the very thing we fear losing the most to be taken away to reveal that we have sought our identity in something other than him. As he grows us in understanding our true identity is in him, we are then freed to enjoy and glorify him in the unique ways that he has created us.
In my flesh, I have gifts that are riddled with pride and imperfection, I have desires that often seek my own will more than God’s, and I have blessings that I’m prone to hold tightly to rather than use for God’s glory. But that is not my identity anymore. I am righteous, holy, loved, and able to bring Christ glory through the gifts and blessings he has given me. Not by anything of my own doing, but by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Praise God that he loves us enough to take our broken, rebellious hearts and, because of the sacrifice of his son, offer us a new identity in Christ. Let’s not settle for anything less.
Reconciled to God
In our new identity in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, (Romans 6:6) but we are reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10) This new identity completely changes our relationship with God and our families, just as it changes the way we see the world. Our new identity in Christ means we have the same relationship with God that Christ has—we are His children. God has adopted us as sons. We are able to call Him “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15–16) We are both joint heirs (Galatians 3:29) and friends (John 15:15) of Christ. And this relationship is even stronger than those we have with our earthly families. (Matthew 10:35–37) Instead of fearing God as judge, we have the great privilege of coming to Him as our Father. We can approach Him with confidence and ask of Him what we need. (Hebrews 4:16) We can ask for His guidance and wisdom (James 1:5) and know that nothing will take us from Him. (Romans 8:38–39) …
We are no longer citizens of the world, but apart from it. (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1) We understand that we are a part of a heavenly, God-ruled kingdom. Things of the earth no longer draw us. (Colossians 3:2) We don’t fear or overemphasize suffering on earth or the trials we face, (Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:12–14) nor do we place importance on things the world values. (1 Timothy 6:9–11) Even our bodies and our actions reflect that our minds are no longer conformed to the world (Romans 12:1–2) but are now instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13) And our new kingdom perspective means we understand that our enemy is not the people around us but the spiritual forces that endeavor to keep the people from knowing God. (Ephesians 6:12) …
One of the greatest blessings about our identity in Christ is the grace we’re given in order to grow into the spiritual maturity that truly reflects our new identity. (Philippians 1:6) Our lives in light of our identity in Christ are filled with a heavenly Father, a large, loving family, and the understanding that we are citizens of another kingdom and not of this earth.
In Christ, God has given us a new identity
I know better, but sometimes I feel like God loves me more when I’m keeping my raw emotions in check and less when I’m a little unglued. Do you ever feel that way? Well, God made a powerful statement about Jesus that encourages me in this regard: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NIV) I found a new perspective in this verse when I realized that Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, performed miracles, or led the masses. God loved His Son and was pleased with Him not based on how He was performing but simply because Jesus is His Son. His Father established and affirmed Jesus’ identity before Jesus began His ministry. Jesus heard God, believed God, and remained filled.
In Christ, God has given us a new identity. (Romans 6:4) But unlike Christ, we tend to forget who we are. We look to fill our days and our lives with activities and performances, hoping to please others and even God. Our humanity makes us vulnerable and in need of daily reassurance. It’s similar to the phenomenon of being satisfied with a large dinner, only to wake up the next morning feeling famished. Truth comes in and fills us up. But our cracks, crevices, and circumstances allow the truth to drain right out of us, leaving a hollowness that can haunt.
Therefore, we must stand moment by moment in the reality of our identity before we throw ourselves into any activity. Grasp the truth and rub it deep. Let it sink in quickly and resist the drain of the day’s performances. Hear God say, “You are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Well pleased because of who you are, not because of what you do. Well pleased because of an unfathomable, unconditional love—not earned but simply given.
You are God’s masterpiece ( Ephesians 2:10)
His perfect love is not based on our perfection or anything except Himself. (See 1 John 4:8) … He says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) He says that nothing can separate you from His love. (Romans 8:35) Don’t let the enemy steal your identity. You are God’s masterpiece. Believe it!
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