Regardless to what degree we have developed a healthy sense of self from childhood, and regardless of the positive or negative results of that experience, the decision to trust and follow Christ has the power to radically alter our very understanding of who we are.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Though all who come to Christ are transformed in nature and destiny, not all recognize the potential of that transformation or walk in that reality. Authentic faith gives us the ability to reflect upon our identity experiences, and bring to light the inadequate or inaccurate ways we’ve defined ourselves in the past. Indeed, placing our trust in Christ as Savior and beginning to walk in that relationship can reaffirm healthy and accurate definitions of self, or replace ones that were misguided, destructive, or unclear. God is good in this way!
Our faith in Christ transforms our identity in at least three ways. These will be discussed in the days to come.
(1) God Shows Us Whose We Are
(2) God Shows Us Who We Are
(3) God Shows Us How to LIve
God Shows Us Whose We Are
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
This passage expresses two amazing truths that are the key to understanding our identity in Christ. First, we don’t belong to ourselves. This means we are neither ultimately responsible for nor accountable to ourselves. Sounds like a cop out and a justification for a lack of responsibility, right? Not so! When we fully understand this truth, the exact opposite occurs. In other words, if we don’t belong to ourselves, then we are willing to let go of it... and therefore be what God intends. We are also able to let go of all the misguided assumptions we make about ourselves and the burdens associated with it.
Second, we were purchased by God. The word choice here is important. When a person purchases something they desire it so much that they would be willing to pay a price for it. As St. Augustine said, "If, thinking of your frailty, you hold yourselves cheap, value yourselves by the price that was paid for you."
There’s a story of a young boy who built a toy boat. He placed it on the edge of the lake to see it sail. To his surprise and disappointment, it floated away and he lost it. He searched and searched until days later he saw a neighborhood boy playing with it and he said, “That’s my boat!” The boy replied, “I found this boat and it’s mine. But if you want it, I’ll sell it to you for $5.00.” This was a lot of money for the little creator of the boat, but he went out gathered all he had and worked a couple of chores to earn enough. Finally, he went and bought the boat for $5.00. While walking away he said to his boat, “Little boat, you’re mine twice. I made you and now I bought you.”
Such is our experience through Christ. Though created by God, we were lost. He sought us. He found us... and through Jesus’ atoning death purchased us back to Him. Since this is true, we must release our self to God and place it in His hands. We are not our own.
Now, as created and purchased by God, we have a new perspective about what we mean to Him, and a new spirit in response to His love toward us...
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:15-17
“Abba” is the Chaldean word for father. It is used three times in the New Testament. One of those instances is when Jesus was crying out to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane just hours before his crucifixion. Abba is a term a small Jewish child would use to address his or her father. While the Bible certainly teaches the respect and reverence we are to have for our Father in Heaven, this term speaks of the closeness and intimacy we also possess in that relationship.
The passage above assumes the connection we have with God and the spirit of that connection. It is not one of fear that lacks confidence toward Him, but a spirit of “sonship”. This speaks to the powerful security we should possess in relationship to our Heavenly Father because He has chosen us. What a compliment! And when we forget this, His Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit to remind us, convince us, and verify to us that we are His children. And as His children, we hold rights to an inheritance- one that comes from God to us as His beloved. Amazing!
It is important to note then that who we are in Christ is only understood in relationship to God. Without the connection to God our Father, we are only inventing ourselves. We must therefore acknowledge first whose we are, before understanding who we are.
It’s simple enough, but has profound implications. Because we belong to God our identity is determined by who God makes us to be. Belonging to our Father in Heaven means we don’t belong to ourselves- i.e. we don’t live for self or to please ourselves. Rather we exist in relationship to a person outside our own desires and aspirations- namely, our Father in Heaven!
Belonging to Him means we understand our true origin. Regardless of our background and family, we are not primarily the result of the conditions of our upbringing. Consequently, we are not victims to those conditions! Instead, we may become who God intends us to be. In Christ, we are therefore not limited by heredity or environment. We can become as God intends without limitations!
Finally, belonging to our Father in Heaven means we live ultimately for an audience of One. What He thinks, what He wants, what He says is truly what matters most. This reality frees us to be who He says we are , do what He says to do, and operate consistently with His beautiful plan for us. Regardless of challenge or critique, we may remain faithful to the One to whom we belong. For only His commendation matters.