When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Who is that person staring back at you? What kind of goals does that person have? What does he or she have on her mind? What delights that person? How does he or she wish to be made known?
If you google the word “identity” it will tell you that the definition is: “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” Our identity is what we associate ourselves with, what kind of worldview we have, and how we are like or unlike the people around us. Our identity is who we are as a person.
The identity of a Christian is found in the One whose name he or she bears. As men we were formed in His very image (Genesis 1:27) as “the work of [His] hand.” (Isaiah 64:8). We are “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Our only true identity is in our Lord, for it is only in Him that we have life, hope, comeliness, and any good at all. He is the reason for and of our existence.
Our identity is not:
- Our feelings
“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” –John Piper
We may want to believe things are “ok” because they sound pleasant to us. We may think that something may be much better our way. We may be tormented and think that God’s plan for our life cannot be right. We may look for answers from our own judgment rather than turn to God’s Word. But our feelings are not truth. They are not the one and infallible guidebook for our lives, no matter how tempting it may be to be convinced by them. May we follow the example of Job who was tormented physically and emotionally, so much so that he exclaimed, “Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree. He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies. His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle. He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me” (Job 19:6-14). Yet, in his despair, he knew that, despite these emotions, he had the hope and assurance to say “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).
- How we compare with our neighbors
We have all been given different talents, different circumstances, and different opportunities. How we compare with those around us doesn’t matter so much. We may not be as good at something as someone else. We may have more profit than someone else, we may attend bible study more often than so-and-so, or we might not have as many friends as our neighbor. Comparing our works, smarts, “goodness”, struggles, or such things with those around us profits us nothing, for we receive nothing except for what is given us of the hand of God. Even the “good” that we do, we could never do without God working it within us first, ”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Also, God is the only perfect and holy One. As “children of the light” we also are “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). He, as our Father and Savior, is the one we emulate and look to. He is the one whose example we follow. And He is the one whose favor we seek (Colossians 3:23).
“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17).
- What we get out of this life
Apart from God, this life is vanity. Our jobs, our food, our homes, our pleasures, our relationships, and our own selves might all seem incredibly vital to us, but they are nothing if we have no spiritual life. Youth, health, happiness all pass away. We all die. We may work and feed ourselves and our family, but our good health won’t profit us in eternity. We might work really hard and keep a job, but if we are not living for the Lord, all we get is some temporary physical reward. We may have relationships, but if they aren’t grounded in God, what structure do they have? Without filling our lives with the One who is life and love, what kind of life and love do we have?
Solomon himself tells us:
Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” -Ecclesiastes 2:17,18;3:20;12:13
What is our identity? It is the light and holiness of our Lord. It is the comeliness we have as Christ’s bride, which covers the black ugliness of our sin (Song of Solomon 1:5).
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15,16).
Having an identity as a child of the One True King is an astounding, powerful, and comforting thing. Our labels define our goals, how we live, and what we hope to become. One who defines himself as an Olympian may be extremely talented, strong, and agile. He pursues a specific mark of achievement. He hopes to prove himself the best at his sport. One who defines himself as a child of God has by no talent or goodness of His own been given the promise of eternal salvation. He doesn’t have to prove himself, because all that is to be accomplished was already covered by Christ on the cross.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” –Titus 3:3-7