Who Do You Think You Are?
When it comes to your identity, you must always start with this understanding: your identity is a gift of grace in Christ. It’s a gift that—in our new birth—God creates a new identity for you as a child of the living God, as a man who has been forgiven, as a man who has awakened to the fear of the Lord and knows that God is great and that he is small. God is the one who evaluates us; we are not the ones who get the last say with regard to who we are.
There is a progressive working throughout our entire lives in which the Holy Spirit instills, deepens, and impresses that new identity and its implications into our lives. To echo the identity statements that thread through Psalm 119, God is our master and we are his servants. It takes a lifetime to work out the implications of what it means that we are the servants of another’s will—that we belong to another and are bought with the blood of another.
On the last day—the day when we see Christ face-to-face—we will not only know God as he is, but we'll also know ourselves as we actually are. All of those partial senses of our true identity will come into their fullness. We will know that we are the beloved children of a loving Father. We will know that we are servants. We will know that the hopes that we have placed in him have come true. Our identity and self-understanding will come to fruition.
As in everything else about the Christian life, there’s always this from-to dynamic. The from—all of our old, misplaced identities—needs to be recognized and understood. In what ways are you prone to incorrectly define who you are? Is it your career? Is it being liked? Is it pleasure? The first battle is correctly defining how you currently see yourself; the second part is taking hold of the appropriate counterweights to those false identities.
Let’s say I place my identity in always needing to be in control. That’s a great example of a false identity because it assumes that I am the Lord. If there is another person who is the Lord and he is in control, then I must learn what it means to trust him and to repent of the anger, anxiety, bullying, aggression, and withdrawal that comes from trying to assert my own control. I must learn to live in a world in which I am not in control—a world in which I’m fragile, dependent, vulnerable, and mortal, recognizing that there is a God who is in control who is a God of life.
The from-to dynamic is central and threads throughout the whole of the Christian life.