This month I have been taking a little bit of a break from the social media cycles.
I needed to.
I found myself constantly looking at other people and feeling inadequate, unsuccessful, and insignificant. Have you ever been there? Where the tiniest comment, the simplest joke, the passing glance or word from someone just sets you on edge and fills your heart with confusion, anxiety, or fear?
Or you look at someone else's life and their busyness and seeming success, and you find yourself wondering if people even notice you exist?
Or maybe it's just the terrible cycle of constantly measuring ourselves up against others- whether with physical traits, personality, success, home, job, family- the list could go on and on here.
You find yourself questioning lots of things, feeling lonely, confused, and weighed down with pressures to be something or someone else. Your identity seems like it needs a makeover. Your purpose seems pointless.
This topic of identity has been prevalent, to say the least, in our country this last month.
Here's the top three "identity" happenings that have been prevalent in the news lately:
Supreme Court and Abortion
As I was thinking about these different things and seeing news article after news article and commercial after commercial promoting or touting different aspects of each, I could not help but recognize the common factor in each issue: identity.
Identity gives us purpose. Identity shows who we are and what matters to us. Identity gives rise to meaning for our lives.
But what happens when I don't understand identity properly? What if, as discussed in the last blog post, my identity is rooted in something that is not true? How does that impact my life and my choices? Is God's word (truth) relevant to identity?
I want to share a few thoughts here as an over-arching banner by which you and I can determine the purpose to our own identities, thereby being able to combat choices which would harm the good purpose God has planned for our lives.
Truth Forms the Groundwork for Identity:
As discussed in my previous blog post, truth can only come from what is actually true- the source of truth itself: God. In order, then, to create a basis for our identity, we must first ask, "What does God say about it?" Each part of what makes us a human being must be based on what God says about me, my life, and my purpose for life.
Babies: What does God say? God explains he formed me in my mother's womb; he knit me together; he knows my frame; he designed each part of me; he made me wonderfully; he says children are a gift; he condemns murder and the taking of any innocent life- born or pre-born. Babies have identity- at every stage of life. A baby's identity matters. A baby's life matters. (See Psalm 139:12-16; Psalm 127: 3-5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Jeremiah 1:5; Exodus 20:13)
Race: In relation to being made the way God designed, no one person can pick what physical characteristics they want to have. Physical qualities and traits set us apart from others. Our skin color, eye color, body structure, and other physical qualities are part of what makes us unique. Each one has been designed for a purpose, and each individual person within people groups makes choices that affect the people around them. Have people groups been oppressed? Of course. Reading through the Bible and history, you will see myriads of ways people were oppressed- and not just because of physical characteristics. Does this mean we today are held responsible for the choices of others in the past? No. Do we deal with the consequences? Yes. (Just look at sin! Adam and Eve's choice to sin has condemned generation upon generation to sin.) But, God has purpose in each life- and each life has the choice to either honor God with their lives or to not honor him. Pressures of the world, sin, choices of others, our own personal struggles factor in to our life choices. But, our choices are our own. So, how we respond to other people is our choice. How we treat other people is our choice. How we use our own lives is a choice. And, those choices do affect others. We must acknowledge past, painful mistakes and sinful choices, and be truthful about the pain and sorrows others have experienced, but that does not mean we wallow there or accuse others for someone else's choice. We also must not respond to situations with violence, rage, and destruction. God calls us to peace, and promoting unrest and violence does not help anyone. We are called to speak truth in love and to seek justice for those who are truly oppressed. But the idea of oppression and justice must not be construed to cover up for our own choices or to put blame on someone else. We are all part of the human race, and the physical differences we bear make up part of our identity- and that identity comes with responsibility. All those who are faced with discrimination, bullying, violence- whatever their physical traits- matter. Their identities matter. And truth is essential for each person to understand his or her place in society. (See Ezekiel 18: read the whole chapter!; Galatians 6:1-10; James 4:10-12; Romans 14:7-12; Ephesians 4)
Sexual Identity: God created sex and gender. In the beginning he created male and female. Sex is not a social construct, meaning it is not based on however one feels at any given moment or what is popular in society. One's sex is a physical, chemical, biological reality based on the truth that one is either male or female. Where we get this truth comes from God himself. Creating a sexual identity outside of what God says is believing a lie. If I am born a certain gender (based on my sexual organs as God created me), to then renounce that gender as wrong or not the way I should have been born is to deny the very reason and purpose by which and for which I was created. When God knit me together in my mother's womb and created every amazing facet of my body, he did not create me to then harm my body or make it something else. Our bodies are designed for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Our lives are to be lived celebrating the ways God has made us so that we can show forth the purpose of him who calls us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of his salvation. Therefore, using my body in ways that attempt to create a different identity, purpose, or merely to "feel good about myself", denies my body's best purpose and meaning. Attempting to find satisfaction and purpose outside the purpose of God is pointless. Using identification methods that do not coincide with reality only lead to further confusion, destruction, and darkness. My sexual identity matters because God made it- not because I can create it to be whatever I want. This idea of "creating my own self" is rooted in selfishness and (as the very name pronounces) pride. These deceitful sins lead only to destruction. This is why this issue matters so much: those who promote it and believe it are destroying themselves- and others- in the process. And, their lives matter. Their identities matter. This is why truth is necessary! (See Genesis 1-3; John 14-16; Romans 1; I Corinthians 11: 33-12:2;
How do these issues relate to my everyday life? Maybe you just kind of hold all these issues at arm's length, hoping no one brings them up in conversation. But, the truths behind the basis of these issues do relate to us in our everyday lives. We each have choices to make: in our relationships, in our life purpose, in the things we do, and the choices we make.
Everyone's identity matters.
So, how do you (truthfully) identify yourself?
We are all born sinful and with the desire for sin (See Romans 3:23; Romans 3:12; Psalm 14: 3). But God desires so much more for us. He created a covenant with us: he would be our God and we could be his people. Sin changed all that. The covenant was broken when Adam and Eve, after being tempted by the serpent, chose to see their identities in something other than what God said, believing the lies of sin (See Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). So, for years and years people had to offer blood sacrifices to atone for their sins and to restore a covenant relationship with God. But, for all the blood sacrifices and keeping of laws, no one could measure up to God's standards. And, the pain and death caused by sin destroyed the plans God had for his people: to enjoy him, to love him, and to glorify him. So, he made a plan- a plan to restore the covenant relationship with the people he made and loved so dearly.
The thing with covenants though is that they were sealed with blood (hence the animal sacrifices). Therefore, the requirement for the new covenant must be blood also. And, the blood was on our hands- we are the ones who have sinned.
But, even if we died, our blood could never be enough because we are sinful. Even for all our best efforts, we cannot measure up to God's holiness and perfection. So, God did what we could not do: he himself died. In the person of his son, Jesus, he made the way for the covenant and access to God to be restored (See John 3:16-17; Romans 5:12-21; Ephesians 2:1-10).
This means that if we come to God, renouncing our lives of sin, the ways we have lived in selfishness and pride and anger and injustice and foolishness, pleading the blood of Jesus on our behalf, God says he will remove our sins. He will forgive us. The blood of his son covers us. We are declared righteous, holy, blameless, adopted as his children! Nothing will be able to separate us from his love! (See Ephesians 1; Romans 7-8; I John 1:5-10)
This allows us to live with hope- hope that shines brighter and brighter each day because we know our identity, our destiny, our reason for living no longer depends on ourselves, but on the one who so loved us and gave himself for us. He has given us new identity, new purpose, new hope (See Romans 5:5-11).
Doesn't that sound wonderful!?
Amazingly, mind-boggling wonderful.
And, like the other identities listed above, it comes with responsibility.
Once we claim the blood of Jesus, our lives are not our own to live as we choose.
This is why identity matters.
Because if I claim to be a Christian, yet choose to live on my own terms, I will always be in conflict with God- he has claimed me as his own- I must not live as though I belong to myself anymore (See I Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 13:20-21; II Peter 1: 3-11).
I cannot be under delusions of pride, selfishness, anger, lust. I cannot live to promote myself or my own way of thinking. I must bring my thoughts captive to what it means to live as a child of light, under the righteousness of Jesus.
This identity matters when lies press in and attempt to cause me to believe God's ways are too hard. My identity matters when I am bombarded on every side from images and ideologies that threaten the truth about who God says I am. The truth about my identity matters when depression creeps in and causes me to doubt my existence. Identity matters when my marriage is under attack. Identity matters when my children reject truth. Identity matters when my earthly friendships are struggling. Identity matters when the church experiences conflict, Identity matters when truth is questioned.
I have been going over and over these truths for myself, because the Enemy wants so badly for us to believe lies. He knows if he can get me to believe subtle deceptions, he can destroy my life. I, like Adam and Eve, trade what God says for a lie- and I am so quickly and easily deceived. The deeper go the deceptions, the harder it is for me to believe truth. My identity then becomes whatever is popular, easy, and the path of least resistance- or whatever makes me feel "good".
But that is not how God sees my identity.
Identity matters because in my identity in Christ alone, I find reason for living.
In my identity, I find a living and abiding hope.
The book of Hebrews shows us extensively how in Jesus we find a better hope and reason for living. Jesus alone gives identity to what was once a broken, deceived, crushed, confused, selfish, prideful heart. He took that heart and with his blood made it new, righteous, and sealed. This is now my identity.
Whatever evils and deceptions then I face here on earth, I hold fast to the anchor of my soul, Jesus Christ, knowing he has promised to see me through this life and into the abundance of the life that is to come: "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." (Hebrews 13:14-15)
Come to the one who gives life and promises abundance.
You won't regret it.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
Songs for Meditation:
Check out some extra resources and videos below relating to these topics:
Blog post on Pride Month:
This is a great short video on the theme of "justice":
Quick video on race according to the Bible:
Longer video on race and prejudice:
Great Pride Month Blogpost from Mama Bear Apologetics and how to talk to your kids about Pride Month phrases, etc.:
Ultimate hope for Transgenders (and Everyone!):
Video on Connections between Racism, Sex, and Abortion: