I know I haven’t written in awhile, but I’ve been thinking a lot. Lately, I’ve really been thinking quite a lot about identity and how significant it is in our lives. It plays such a huge role in shaping us and motivating us within every situation of life, but I think we often times forget about it.
Identity, to me, is the thing at the very core of my being that gives me purpose and power, and it is the thing that directs each step of my life.
We can find identity in a whole lot of things, and we do, especially as we grow from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. We discover new things, some good and some bad, and after attaching to these things–whether they be sports, money, music, partying, being a student, being a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife to someone, popularity or the “lack” of it, or some sort of job/career–we start to carry these things in our heart and put them in a place of most importance in our life. That can be fine for awhile, but soon these things start to lose their effect on our hearts and we feel lost and wanting more, naturally. Nothing can fill that hole in our hearts, no matter how much we try to fill it up with new identities. There is no hope to feel fully safe and secure if something of this world is our identity.
Especially if the identity of “church” or “Christianity” is what you attach to your heart.
That might sound crazy but I’m not speaking blasphemy, so just hear me out now.
As a person who claims Jesus over my life, I am a Christian (Christ-follower), and He is my example, my Savior, my Messiah, my best friend, and SO MUCH more. But my identity is not “a person who goes to church” or “a person who follows Jesus”, though I do both of those things, and absolutely love both of those aspects of my life. They are part of who I am, but they are not Whose I am, and that is the difference. That is where the shift in my identity comes.
This has taken twenty-three years of my life to sort of realize, and I am just barely starting to see it. I have plenty of identity-work to do, but I am so excited.
I am God’s son, and that is my identity. It’s more than “becoming a Christian” or “going to church”. Much more than going to Heaven or not going to Hell when I die. IT’S SO MUCH MORE!
My identity is as God’s kid, and that gives me power, peace, protection, and provision.
With power I have authority, both in the physical world and the spiritual world because I am completely secure in my identity.
With peace I can walk through any season of life knowing I am free and redeemed because of Whose I am.
With protection I don’t have to worry at all if I am safe, because I know God has me in His hands, always walking with me.
With provision I know that I am completely secure and don’t have to worry about anything because I know my Father will provide, even when I feel like I need to take control.
So you see, this life is much much more than “praying a prayer of salvation in order to not go to hell”. God calls us His kids, and that’s what He wants us to understand. Life is about stepping into our true identity as a child of God, and learning to live within that realm.
When we understand that God isn’t afraid of our failures, it starts to change our hearts, too. We begin to realize that we don’t have to worry about our failures either. Focusing on Jesus, who is our Savior and our first brother (the Son of God), and following His example is the way to step into true identity.
Whoa, Seth, how can you say that? Isn’t church important and being “Christian” important? Well, yes. But when you attach your identity to anything other than Child of God, it isn’t really your identity.
I’ve been a part of many organizations and many churches whose only goal was to “get people saved.” Now, that sounds amazing, and in reality it really is because we have the opportunity to bring people to Jesus, the One who saves us. But with most every church it seems like we want people to pray a certain prayer so that we can say they were saved in our church and then we can add their name to the list of people we’ve saved. And then we leave them once they’ve “joined the club.” I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he told us to be the Church.
If I’m going to lead someone to Jesus I’m going to start with identity. People already know they are broken and “sinful”, we don’t have to continually point that out. Jesus is everything. He is the answer to every question and every pain in the world, and that’s what we should focus on. Jesus healed people plenty of times without ever asking if they wanted to pray a prayer with Him to be saved (I don’t actually think He ever asked people to pray a prayer of salvation, He just called them into a different life than the one they were living–the life they were created to live). That’s because Jesus was more concerned about the person He was interacting with than He was with adding numbers to His church building. Jesus cared about people on an individual level and with real, authentic love that wasn’t going to leave them once they came to His church or started to believe in Him. People weren’t projects to Jesus, though, like us, they needed His help. They were His brothers and sisters, just like we are. He knew how God viewed the world, and He had the same vision. Jesus came to restore people’s identities and bring children back to the Father, because Dad missed His kids.
God has given me such a sweet and hope-filled glimpse into the Throne room, and I want you to see it too.
“A child who grows up in the throne room is always running around so happy and so free, climbing up and down on Dad’s lap while He is handling business—and Dad is so happy to have him around and to see him smile. As he grows he starts to see how things operate and starts to step into authority and power because his Dad says he can. That child remains joy-filled because he knows who he is as a child of God—for he can come sit on Dad’s lap anytime, even when he is old. He’s seen the whole process of operation, now it’s his turn to rule over darkness and defend the lost.”
That’s what the Gospel is.
It’s the Truth told throughout Jesus’ life that our Heavenly Father wants His kids back on His lap, and He is willing to do anything to bring them Home.
So sharing the Gospel is more than just a three-step approach to salvation where once somebody follows it we leave them because our job is done. Not at all. Being a Christian is about investing into people’s lives with unconditional love that does not care about their sins or their mistakes. It’s about investing your life into people without any expectation in return. It’s about looking at the world through the lens of Jesus–a lens that views everyone as God’s Son or Daughter–and actively restoring that identity in people.
We have such a powerful opportunity to be better at caring for people, so we should take it!
We have a beautiful chance to be better at loving people, so let’s do it!
We have the gentle calling to be better at living in grace, and it’s going to change the world.
And Jesus is so gentle and graceful and patient with us as we journey through life and get better at these things and make mistakes along the way. He’s ok with our mistakes. And He is ok with the areas of our life that aren’t perfect yet. He knows that as we grow closer with Him and begin to love His presence more and more, things in our lives will change, because that’s just how it works when you enter into the presence of Love.
May we be the same with the people around us.