I am American. I am a woman. I am a daughter and sister. I am Scientist and Engineer. I am a worshiper, artist, and singer. All those statements are correct. However my true identity is a child of the King. Most people will tell you about their earthly citizenship. If we are a follower of Christ, we have a heavenly identity that is the most secure identity. Let’s look at Paul’s instruction.
Philippians 3: 12-21
12b I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Paul was speaking in the previous passage about all the things that made him a model citizen, but none of those things made him right in the eyes of God. We are citizens of this world, but our eternal citizenship is in heaven. If we live from our true identity we don’t have an identity crisis. Many of us walk around unsure of who we are, what we can do in Christ, how valuable we are, and what we have access to as God’s child. We can live with only this earthly life in view struggling with our identity. Here are some examples.
1. People strive to be successful thinking that if they are, they will be more valuable. The truth is every person is already valued in heaven. God views success very differently than we do. God defines success as being faithful. Are we faithful to do what He says and faithful over what He’s given us. See passages on the talents, Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28. God expects us to use what we are given. We can be rich, respected, and successful and it does not make us more valuable to God. We have the highest value we can obtain in our identity in Christ.
2. People strive to have the perfect body, image, or looks. The truth is that every person is beautiful in the eyes of God. He made all things and people beautiful. Obtaining the perfect body, image, or looks does not make a person more valuable. God is so creative that He refused to make every person look the same. Every person is made in God’s image and the delight of His heart.
3. People strive to please God, instead of living loved by God. It’s easy to get caught up serving God and find identity in doing for God. Our identity cannot be in serving, ministry, or doing for Him. Our identity is in Christ and from that identity we serve, minister, and do things for God. He does not value us more for doing things for Him. Also if our service is out of obligation, it’s not from a pure heart. In Christ we are 100 percent approved of already.
4. People find their identity in their marital status, family, or relationships. In heaven none of those things make a person more valuable. God doesn’t look over at the angels and say, “Hey that’s John’s mom or dad, or Jack’s wife, or Susie’s best friend.” The relationships we use to find our identity and worth are not what God uses. Our marital status, family, or friend relationships are not our true identity. They do not make us more valuable.
5. People find their identity in the things of this world. This world will pass away and only God’s Kingdom will remain. Our identity in Christ will not change.
6. People find their identity in other people’s opinions of them. God doesn’t take a survey of other people opinions. People pleasing, allowing others to label us, and living under the umbrella of others opinions leads to idolatry. We either live for an audience of One or worship the opinions of people. If we live by the applause of people, we will die by their criticisms.
7. People find their identity in what they do. This does not just apply to occupation. It applies to not so positive things as well. People will say, “I am loser,” defining their worth by what they do or have done. People say, “I am an angry person or type A personality or …fill in the blank.” Labels limit what we can do. The way we see and define ourselves is important. If we see ourselves differently, we will behave differently. Also God doesn’t define us by our shortcomings, “That’s impatient Patty and angry Anita.” In Christ we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He looks at us through the finished work of the cross. He says, “That’s My child.” He doesn’t approve of everything we do, but He continues to love us. Our do (what we do) does not define our who (who we are in Christ).
You get the idea. If we are followers of Jesus, then our identity is only secure in Him. In Him we are forgiven, loved, cared for, accepted, chosen, set apart, and valuable. May we not have an identity crisis. Our lives are hidden in Christ.