We all have an identity. I don’t mean your passport. I mean how you view yourself and how you portray yourself to others. From the moment we are born we learn identity. ‘Hello cutie’, a mother might say to her baby, ‘Aren’t you just gorgeous’. As we grow we’ll hear ‘you’re so clever’, ‘you are so smart’, and so much more. Sadly, as we really grow we start to realise we’re not necessarily the cleverest, the best, the prettiest nor even that cute any more! And as we contest life with our parents we start to feel we aren’t perhaps as precious as they said.
And so we can seek to find an identity: How do I want to portray myself? How do I want to feel about myself? What are the good attributes I want to make sure others see, and what are the weaknesses I need to hide?
But as we strive to ‘find me’, the reality is we are living out a part-truth we have created based on what we want from others. Doing so, we become prisoners to the acceptance/rejection of what we have created, easily hurt when failures are revealed, terribly damaged when we don’t achieve value in the eyes of others, dissatisfied with the identity we have chosen, constantly seeking what we need to be.
As I strive to ‘find me’, the reality is I am living out a part-truth I have created based on what we want from others. Doing so I become a prisoner to the acceptance or rejection of what I have created.
Much of the brokenness that we experience comes from the fact that we allow ourselves to be defined by other broken and damaged people and values. In doing so we not only shape ourselves by brokenness, but also by people and values that change rapidly. We are left feeling empty because what shapes us has no firm foundation, is ever changing, and affirms the very things that undermine who we should be. We are left without foundation, direction or value.
It’s into this that God calls. When we become a Christian the old life is driven away, “all things have become new“ (2 Cor 5:17). Gal 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.“ Part and parcel of coming to Jesus is the destruction of the need to live for the old self, the old failed identity I created. Instead, we are called out of that world by our Heavenly Father. Now we no longer need to live in a world where we will fail to find full approval from others. We have a Father who loves us with full approval not because of who we are or try to be but because of Jesus. And so we are called to “no longer live in this body“ (the old life and the old identity) “ but rather live in the never-disappointing reality of His eternal love (Romans 8:31-39).
God provides a far far better identity for us. I am loved, but not because I am cute, but because of Jesus (1 John 4:10). I belong, not because I have reached an approval standard of others, but because Jesus welcomes me as His own (1 John 3:1). I am precious, not because of the value of what I can do or achieve, but because He calls me precious (Rom 5:7-9). And so much more. In every area, my loving Father provides firm, unchanging foundations upon which He gives a new unshakeable identity in Jesus.
God provides a far far better identity for us. I am loved, but not because I am cute, but because of Jesus (1 John 4:10). I belong, not because I have reached an approval standard of others, but because Jesus welcomes me as His own (1 John 3:1). I am precious, not because of the value of what I can do or achieve, but because He calls me precious (Rom 5:7-9).
The problem is that we can hold on to the things that we used to judge ourselves by, we can refuse to let go of our old identity and continue to listen to all the voices of adulation and failure that go with it. But were never created to be worshipped. We were created to worship our maker. Only by turning from our self-made identity and to our new identity in Jesus (i.e. ‘repentance’) can we find the rest we need. That’s why your true identity really matters.