How do you form an opinion of someone you’ve just met? Dogs aren’t at all timid. They walk right up to each other and start sniffing. People generally use some restraint and do their assessing from a distance. Clothes, hairstyle, skin color, vocabulary—we use it all to form an identity for those we meet.
What about forming your own identity? How do you decide who YOU are?
When I speak at events or write for blogs, the hosts ask, “Could you tell me a little about yourself?”
I’m tempted to say, “Well, I’m about twenty pounds overweight. I snore. And I hate onions.” Instead, I go with the more traditional: My husband’s name is Roy. I have two married daughters and six grandkids. I write biblical novels and live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Blah, blah, blah…
But who is Mesu Andrews…really? On the inside, where no one else sees?
Identity Isn’t Just a What
In forming our identity, it’s easy to recite the “whats” or “wheres” about the outside life.
- What is your marital status?
- What is your age?
- Where do you live?
- Where do you work?
But identity also includes the deeper questions of WHO, and it carries with it the concept of stability and consistency. Here are a couple of important definitions:
- the state or fact of remaining the same under varying conditions
- condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
Identity is defined at our core—and doesn’t change with the weather or circumstances.
The truth is, you may have already formed your identity, inside and out, and simply not realized it. Sometimes, we allow the enemy of our souls to skew our identity—again, without even realizing it.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ’s blood as the sacrifice for your sin, you are first-and-foremost a child of the One True God. That is WHO you are at the core—an heir to the King of Kings. We show Him our love through obedience just as Jesus showed the Heavenly Father His love through obedience while on earth:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”
Matthew 3:16-17 (emphasis added)
All three Persons of the Trinity were present to affirm the Son’s identity, and the same God—Father, Son, and Spirit—promises to indwell each of His kids.
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’”
False Identity Foundations
Immediately after Jesus was baptized (and His identity affirmed), He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where Satan tested His identity. Our identity will also be tested—not in spite of being God’s children, but because we’re God’s children.
Built on What We Do
“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’
Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”
Matthew 4:2-4 (emphasis added)
Built on What Others Say
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”
Matthew 4:5-7 (emphasis added)
Built on What We Have
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’”
Matthew 4:8-10 (emphasis added)
Defining Your Identity
“Then the devil left [Jesus], and angels came and attended him.” Matthew 4:11
When we resist the devil’s attempts to shape our identity with busy-ness, people-pleasing, or materialism, the Lord is faithful to encourage and build us up in His strength and power.
Ask the Holy Spirit to affirm your identity. You can start with what and where you are in this life, but please don’t stop until you’ve reached that deeper place of WHO you are in Him.
To download and print a document with Scriptures to remind you of WHO YOU ARE in Christ, click on the following link: WHO AM I in Christ.
New Study Begins Next Week
At the retreat I attended recently, the speaker mentioned a book that sounded wonderful and challenging. I read its introduction and was hooked. It pulls together much of what I’ve been saying over the past few weeks. Here’s a peek:
“You might think that your woundedness or your sinfulness is the truest thing about you or that your giftedness or your personality type or your job title or your identity as husband or wife, mother or father, somehow defines you. But in reality, it is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are. There is a place within each one of us that is spiritual in nature, the place where God’s Spirit witnesses with our spirit about our truest identity. Here God’s Spirit dwells with our spirit, and here our truest desires make themselves known. From this place we cry out to God for deeper union with Him and with others.”
~ Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
For the next ten weeks, my Friday posts will reflect on a chapter from the book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. You don’t have to buy the book to glean something from the posts.
We’ll explore what Christians of all ages have termed, spiritual disciplines. These simple activities—such as prayer, fasting, solitude, etc.—are not rules or “works-based” faith, but rather actions that place a believer in a humble life-posture to hear God more clearly. If you decide to purchase the book, I hope you’ll join me in reading a chapter each week and practicing the corresponding discipline. I’ll share my experience and Scripture/spiritual insights in the post, and I hope you’ll do the same in the blog comments.
Next week we’ll cover the book’s Introduction. I hope you’ll join me!
- Which of the False Identity Foundations has been the hardest for you to dismantle? What solid truths have you used as solid Foundation?