I love to shop online at Christmastime. Mostly because I can do it in my pajamas. And because I can go to lots of different stores and never worry about finding a good parking place. And I love the free shipping you can get at this time of year, too. Lots of things on the “pro” side of the scale with online Christmas shopping for me. My dad is reluctant to shop online. He’s not all that thrilled about giving out his personal information like that. He’s afraid of identity theft. So he will rarely shop online. Perhaps if his computer had a cash slot he’d be more willing.
I probably don’t worry enough about having my identity swiped like that. I know it can happen and does happen, but so far I have not let that slow my online shopping down any. I may live to regret that one day.
This subject gets me thinking about my own identity. Not the one that can be stolen online, but my actual identity. Who I am. Or whose I am, I guess a better way of putting it. As a follower of Christ, naturally I should find my identity in him, right? This is a hot topic, actually. Just Google it. You’ll see. Apparently a lot of us Christians have trouble with this identity in Christ issue.
We mistake WHAT we are for WHO we are. What I am is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, nurse, etc. But that is not who I am. If I allow what I am to define me then I do not have a clear picture of myself. As a follower of Christ, I can now identify with Jesus. I am his sister, his follower, and one day co-heir.
About nine years ago my husband left behind his senior pastor position in church. It was a good thing for him, but I struggled a lot. For almost ten years I had been “the pastor’s wife” and now I no longer was. I had not realized how much I had let that role define who I was. Matthew had moved on to really exciting things in ministry, things that actually no longer included me regularly, and while I was happy for him, I was lost. My identity as pastor’s wife had been taken, and I was no longer sure who I was. I had mistaken the WHAT for the WHO.
I’m not the only one who has done this. The whole phrase “empty nester” comes from a loss of identity. Parents who found their identity in parenting no longer know who they are when the kids fly from the nest. So often when an elderly spouse dies, their long time mate is not long to follow. They lost their identity when their mate passed away. Millions of people have lost their jobs and are suffering terribly for it. Not only are they dealing with the financial distress brought on by unemployment, but they so tied who they were to their job, that without that position, they no longer know who they are, and they are sometimes paralyzed to move forward.
Some of us allow other people to define us. Maybe a parent or teacher told you that you’d never amount to anything and you have let that define you. Shame on them. Perhaps you have allowed others in your life to speak untruths to you about who you are, and you are holding on that that definition. Shame on them, too. And shame on you for believing it.
When we stop allowing what we are to define us, or what others have said of us to define us, we can then pass that duty on to Christ. But how does that work? How do we find our identity in Christ?
Well think about it for a minute. Who is God, really? Creator. Redeemer. Relentless pursuer. From the fall of man, he has been pursuing us. He so desired a relationship with you that he gave up his one and only son to have it. Now I might like you, but if I had to give up any child of mine to have a relationship with you, then I’d pass. I can live without you. But God couldn’t. He was not willing to live without you. So he gave the only son he had to get you.
Are you feeling special yet?
Not only was God willing to send his son, Jesus was willing to be sent. And it wasn’t pretty what he had to do for you. But then he wasn’t done. He went back to heaven to continue to stand on our side before the Father. Continuing to be that holy filter so God can look upon you and smile. Yet he didn’t leave you high and dry here either. No, he left you a Comforter, someone to help guide you. He sent you the Holy Spirit who, from the time he removes the scales from your eyes so you can see the truth of the gospel until you are ushered finally into Christ’s presence, never leaves you.
That’s WHO you are. That’s your identity in Christ. Precious, prized, cherished, sought after and cared for. Never again should we allow an earthly title, person, or situation define who we are. It may tell us what we are, but never who. We are more than that. Much more.