As the new year kicks off with its traditional resolutions, challenges and promises, it is a blessing to know that the God who created us is still reconciling this world (His creation) to Himself, by way of His Son, Jesus Christ. “Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).
Even though our culture is progressively pulling away and trying to reinvent, rename and reidentify itself, hope is still on the horizon and lives are still being changed for Christ even as new laws appear to be making it easier for people to legally seek their own identity.
In fact, as of January 1, not only in California, but in a few other states around the nation, the new driver’s licenses will now have three categories to choose from: male, female and non-binary. To date, there are at least 55 gender nouns anyone can use to describe themselves. So, the issue of identity is already a leading question on the world stage. The truth is evident in Scripture that only God has the answer for us all.
So, we have our name, occupation, vocation, job, career, title, position and hometown, which may help us in understanding who we are. But we must go far deeper to discover whose we are. And when everything is stripped away and dust to dust our bodies return.
We will find that our Identity can only be found in His Holiness, not our humanness. “ For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
God has placed within every heart the essence and the need for Identity and it must be satisfied. It can only be satisfied by a right relationship with Him.
Identity answers the three fundamental questions that I believe are at the core of everything we do: Where did I come from? What am I supposed to be doing? Where am I going? The answers to these questions are critical and must be anchored in the reality that God made us. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born, I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1: 5). And, He has a plan for us: “'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). And we know where we are going: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
Just about anywhere you go, or anything you do, in some ways requires some sort of identity. In this postmodern era, even that has become a hotly debated topic. Identity does, after all, tell us not only who we are, but points up directly to whose we are as well. I also believe strongly that the Evil One seeks to confuse and exploit this fundamental principle of life for his purpose. Yes, the evil one has a game plan and he doesn’t play by the rules. "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
In a nutshell: First, God made mankind in His Image, Satan through deception introduced temptation into God’s world, man was disobedient, sin entered the world, God promised and sent His Son in the world to redeem man from sin. This was done by restoring man’s image through the identity of Christ Jesus. Through Jesus and only Jesus we are restored and set right in the relationship for which God intended.
For those who trust Christ, their identity is not formed by biology, bound by philosophy, couched in psychology or governed by politics. It is in Christ alone. From Him we draw purpose, passion and perseverance. From Christ we understand were we’ve come from, what we are to do and where we are going.
It is the most devilish plan of the evil one to try to distort, defect and discourage people from this great truth. Because he knows that if he can get people to seek their own way, find their own truth and to live their own lives, they will derail themselves from the God-offered fullness and abundant life so intended for those who submit, surrender and are saved by His grace. Identity is about transformation, not simply a transaction or a transition. This is what answers fundamentally the “Identity Crisis.”
Identity is where the essence of discipleship, fellowship and worship take root to the Glory of God. That Godly identity is Sovereignly secured, providently placed and spiritually preserved, so His faithful servants will desire to put off the old and put on the new.
Identity amplifies the calling in our lives: “for me to live as Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Remember, the evil one provides a light to self-gratification and fulfillment, gift wrapped in good intentions, peppered with justifiable feeling and seasoned with a heavy dose of human wisdom!
If we misunderstand and misuse who we are, and the deeper purpose of whose we are, then we fall victim to the greatest hijacking of all time. Not simply “identity theft” but rather “identity delusion.” For that, a whole host of problems and difficulties will come “a-calling.” Depression, anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, anger and despair-- just to name a few. Even though the before-mentioned things are part of life in general, being confused by the identity delusion will not only magnify these problems, but deepen the dependency and significance of them in the struggle of daily pursuits.
This New Year, please settle the issue of Identity in your heart if you have not done so. “ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).