Our individual identity is important to each of us. That’s because we want to know that we are, in at least some way, a significant part of the world around us. No one wants to think that when they die, no one will notice.
Being curious about our identity is a part of the human condition. When we meet someone for the first time, we often ask “What do you do?” We ask because we are trying to identify who they are by learning what kind of job they have (or had). That question seems like a good place to start.
Another part of our identity is based on where we come from. That is why, when I meet people for the first time, I often ask them where they grew up. I always find the answers fascinating. Every now and then, I even find someone who grew up right here in Juniata.
If the conversation is going well, we might also ask more questions like, “Do you have siblings? or “Are you a parent?” or “Do you have any hobbies you enjoy”? Sometimes we find out that people are talented artists, musicians, or dancers.
Many other things go into forming a person’s unique identity. If we meet a young person for the first time, we might ask if they are in school. If they are, we often ask what they would like to do when they get out.
The decisions we make also shape our identity. They affect how others look at us, and they also affect how we view ourselves.
All of those things pale in comparison to the unique identity each of us is given by God Himself. Our most important identity comes from the One who made us.
Some choices are not up to us. For example, our modern culture has begun telling us that everyone has a right to choose their own gender. I found a website that listed 25 different genders a person could “choose” from. These people ignore the fact that science, and the Bible, only know about two different genders. There are some choices that God makes for us.
Our human nature recoils against the idea of God being ultimately in charge of who we are. That is why our culture loves to believe that our complete identity comes from inside of us instead of from God. Oprah Winfrey is a good example. She said, “If I lost control of the business, I’d lose myself – or at least the ability to be myself. Owning myself is a way to be myself.”
Would you like to know what God says about your identity? You should, because when this life is over, His opinion is the only one that will matter.
First, the bad news.
None of us have the identity God created us to have. He intended for us to be perfect and completely holy. Sin ruined that. That is the source of our widespread dissatisfaction and discontent in the world. When God compares mankind now with the identity He wanted us to have, He says, “…There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one…. And the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3: 10–12, 17–18).
That is a very bleak picture of who we are, but that just makes the good news even more amazing. When we turn from our sin to Christ, our identity is forever changed. With the Apostle Paul, we can say, “… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
God has made a way for us to become members of His own family. How’s that for an awe-inspiring identity! Get your Bible out, and read Romans, Chapter 8, verses 14-17. Christians are the sons of God; they are adopted by God; they are children of God, and they are heirs of God.
Bible teacher J.I. Packer pictured our new identity this way: “The traitor [that’s you and me!] is forgiven, brought in for supper, and given the family name. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is [even] greater.”
This wonderful identity can be yours if you place your faith in Jesus Christ. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Please turn to Christ so that being a much-loved child of God can be your primary identity. (As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this or would like a copy of God’s Word to read for yourself.)