I had one of those chance opportunities to overhear a conversation of two innocent and sweet young boys. It went something like this. The 7-year-old was telling his six-year-old friend that he really enjoyed skiing. Then the six-year-old lad insisted he was a better skier than his friend. "No you're not, you can't be, I'm older than you." The six-year-old said, "I'm not only a better skier but I'm a better cyclist to." "Well, I'm a better carpenter than you." So the conversation went. This verbal exchange really hurt the young boy and made him feel inferior, subordinate and belittled. As I looked into his face, I could see him struggling for his value, his self-worth and most of all his IDENTITY. Already, at such a young and tender age, he is beginning to search for his identity in his abilities and performance. Is that you? Honestly now, ask yourself where is your identity???
When I was growing up I wrestled with the same issues these two young boys are wrestling with. I wanted to be known as the fastest runner on the block, the best baseball and dodge-ball player in the neighborhood. When I got older, my identity was switched into owning the best and fastest car,( a fire engine red GTO convertible), being attractive to the opposite sex and popularity among my peer group. Then I graduated from college and wanted to be seen as a success, measured by how big and beautiful a home I possessed, the quality of the cars I drove and the success of my business and income.
Where was my identity? Where is yours?
We too often base our identity on how we look and dress, our popularity and our influence, our talents and knowledge, our financial means and position, our family togetherness and number of friendships. We also find our identity in our possessions, accomplishments, degrees, abilities, performances, Bible knowledge, being part of the "Remnant" or even our lifestyles and how and where we live.
The truth is, when we find our identity in any of these things, we will NOT be generally satisfied with our life at the deepest level-our daily walk with God! When these false substitutes are going good for us, we generally feel somewhat successful; we find some fulfillment or a measure of joy and peace in any one or all of these poor replacements. The apostle Paul uses the expression, "IN CHRIST," more than any other expression in his writings. He even indicates that, " For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1st Corinthians 2:2. This is where all of our identity is truly to be found.
To keep this false identity up, you're going to have to work furiously and continuously at it. Why, because if you don't strive to maintain your perceived standing and worth within your own family, friendships, peer groups and church brethren, someone else will rise to the forefront and the perception of your identity will be diminished. This fallacious identity now involves you in a lifelong proving of yourself, over and over and over again. I have a neighbor, about the age of 60, who is highly successful, probably worth four or five million dollars and every time I see him, he has to carry on in such a way that his identity is in his shrewdness, his valuable possessions and how much everything he owns is worth. My prayer is that he will some day find his true identity in Jesus Christ.
Then it happens, a crack occurs, you make a misstep or failure happens someplace along the line and your identity is shattered. All of a sudden, life feels like a giant puzzle that you just can't figure out and solve. Now your talents, abilities and accomplishments appear worthless. Your identity is now pegged to your failure.
If you've ever felt this way or if you're currently feeling this way... DON'T WORRY... YOU'RE NOT ALONE. Most people have felt this way at one point and some individuals have felt that way so long they've forgotten how to live any other way. They've begun to accept it as normal.
But feeling this way is NOT how you were created to live. God wants to solve the puzzle of your identity. When your identity is wrapped up in you, your appearance, your accomplishments or your perceived identity to others, you're carrying a weight on your shoulders God never intended you to carry. Jesus knew this weight would stress and crush you. He's got something better in mind for you.
The answer isn't WHAT you find your identity in. The answer is WHOM you find your identity in! Coming to the realization of who you are in Christ FREES you, so you don't have to prove yourself, you don't have to impress people, and you don't have to find your value or your identity, in your outward accomplishments, your reputation or your possessions.
Why? Because your value, your sense of worth and most of all your identity, are not on the line- it's all IN JESUS. "For IN HIM we live and move and have our being." Acts17:28. You see, JESUS is the solution to the 7-year-old boys identity. JESUS is the solution to your and my identity as well. What this verse ultimately means is that the best and most blessed way to live-the only way to find and fulfill your true identity-is to live out what you are and can be IN CHRIST.
"YOU ARE COMPLETE IN HIM." Romans 11:36. What this is saying is, if you are single, you can be complete IN HIM. If you are a widow or widower, you can be complete IN HIM. Whether you have a big home or small rental, you can be complete IN HIM. If you are a tremendous success or a simple everyday person, you can be complete IN HIM. Your worth is NOT in your accomplishments, your abilities, your appearance or your possessions. Your identity is to be found in your COMPLETENESS IN GOD. All can have this! It's free and available to everyone. You don't have to compete or compare with anyone. The 7-year-old boy can find his value, worth and IDENTITY in being all that God has called him to be and lay down this having to be the best. So can you and me!
Let's begin today by discovering God's plan of life for us, where we are at and then begin living to honor ONLY GOD in all that we say and do and are!
Pleasing Him only,
Jim and Sally