What is your identity?
If you’re like me, you probably are drawing a blank, but after more thought, you start thinking about the basics. Your age, your marital status, whether you have children, your occupation, your education, your faith. But let’s dig a little deeper.
I started to consider this as I happened upon this blog post online. I started thinking, what do I regard as identifiable characteristics of myself?
I’m driven. I do everything I can with the goal of excellence. I’m proud that I worked hard to graduate college. I’m proud that I’ve worked hard at my career. I’m proud that I’m faithful in my church. I’m proud that I’m a dedicated wife and mother.
There’s nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves, but is it possible that those things could be idols in my heart? Things that, without them, I would be lost? What if a tragedy forced me to not finish high school, much less college? What if I never had someone take a chance on me in my career to get me where I am today? What if I never found a church that quite “fit” and so I never poured my heart into it? What if my family fell apart?
Where would I be?
Stripped from everything I’ve grown to hold as a part of me, what would I have left?
The sad part is, I shudder to consider that. But the truth is, as a Christian, I am called to lay those things aside. Die to those things. Consider the following verses:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ….” Philippians 3:7-9a
As a Christian, my identity is in Christ. All else is “rubbish.” Thanks to my friend Becca and her teaching on Philippians, I learned that the Greek word for rubbish is actually “dung.” Lovely thought. But as I thought about it, what is dung? It’s the byproduct of food, which is used by the body to absorb valuable nutrients. So that doesn’t mean all of my other identifiable characteristics aren’t useful. They are simply to be used for the edification of the body – in a spiritual sense, the Church – and not end in themselves.
As a driven person, I am to use my drive to edify the Church and advance God’s kingdom. As a wife and mother, I am to use my role to minister to my husband and children and others who are in a similar role. What I formerly considered as my identity is simply a means to an end. And the end is the advancement of God’s kingdom. When I consider these things as part of myself, as service to myself – my flesh – they are idols. Plain and simple.
My identity – my only identity – is in Christ. Now that I’ve recognized this, God has got some cleansing to do in my heart.
Make it personal: list the characteristics that make up your identity. What if they were stripped from you? Do you consider them rubbish? Or do you depend on them to serve yourself? Could they be idols in your heart? If you find, like I did, that they are, make this a concerted matter of prayer. Ask God to cleanse your heart and help you find your identity in Christ alone. Consider memorizing the verses above to guide your mind in this journey.