the state or fact of remaining the same one, as under varying aspects or conditions
Who am I?
It’s a question that has been asked since the beginning of time. Traditionally, we’ve found the answer in one place…what we do. If I write, then I’m a writer. If I work in an office, than I’m a businessman. If I play a sport, then I’m an athlete. We like to define ourselves based upon what we do.
But the definition of identity here seems to contradict this conclusion. After all, we don’t always do the same thing under varying aspects or conditions. Inspiration wanes, offices go out of business and injuries end careers.
Many people talk of finding their identity in Christ, and yet still find their worth and value from what they do. I’m the first one to admit guilt.
I remember a time in my life when I took a break from teaching. It’s my passion and I do it well. But during this time, I felt like I was in the middle of an identity crisis. If I wasn’t teaching, then I wasn’t doing anything of value.
I didn’t know how to just be.
An Unchangeable Identity
Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. I call it the identity chapter. Nowhere in Scripture is our identity laid out in such a clear way.
Verse 14 says that we are sons of God (obviously it’s gender inclusive). The thing about being a son or daughter is that nothing can change that fact. Regardless of the status of my relationship with my dad, I’ll always be his son. We can talk every day or not see each other for years. He can be proud of me or completely disappointed. Either way, nothing changes the fact that I’m his son. The same goes for our relationship to God.
Sonship is our identity.
We may struggle with feelings of guilt and condemnation because we aren’t doing what we think we should be doing. We may feel our acceptance as sons or daughters comes from our performance. We may strive with all our strength to be as good as we can. Sometimes we succeed and other times we fail.
The fact is that none of that changes our identity. Once we have been adopted, we receive His spirit on the inside of us. We begin to take on the characteristics of our Father. We are shaped into His image day by day. But nothing we ever do makes us any more or less of a son or daughter.
Once we discover our identity, it’s simply a matter of walking in it. When we remove the fear of performance as the determining factor of our value and acceptance, we can receive the grace available to walk in the Spirit.
Once we believe the truth of our identity in Christ, we will realize that there is absolutely nothing able to separate us from the love of God. No amount of self-effort and no amount of failure will ever hold us back. We are simply overcome and ultimately defined by the love of an unrelenting God whose heart is always for us and never against us.
What does identity mean to you?