What is my identity in Christ, anyway?
Sludging my way to work,like a stick in hot wax, I was peering into other cars wondering if the drivers of those cars hated their jobs as much as I did. Were they dreading their day as much as I was? Had they spent countless hours wondering how it was possible to get so far off the planned course for their life?
Like a top 5 list, in my 20’s I thought I had it all figured out. “It” being life.
Keys to the Good Life (From my 20-something Perspective):
1) Success (the kind that everyone can clearly see )
2) Being a good friend.
3) Being a Good Person (whatever that means)
4) Taking fabulous vacations
5) Making sure everyone (and I do mean everyone) liked you
*I can’t even begin to articulate the amount of time and effort wasted on this one.
I was working hard at attaining these goals, so when euphoria didn’t consume my every waking moment, I started to think “maybe I am on the wrong track.” The thought was always quickly dismissed as I reasoned “What else could there be?” I knew in my head that these things weren’t going to make me happy. And at the time, I would not have even recognized that I was chasing these things for happiness. The enemy is deceptive that way, distorting our view of our own selves. I went to church, I was a believer but I still didn’t quite get Christ’s message about finding our happiness in him. So I kept plugging away at the perceived ladder of success. Aaaaaand I kept getting nowhere. Well, I can’t really say I was going nowhere. I kept falling further away from happiness and contentment.
It was about this time when the phrase “Identity in Christ” kept cropping up. I thought to myself “Sounds awesome. I love quizzes. Can’t wait to find out what mine is!” But I couldn’t find the 20 question quiz that would categorically define my identity in Christ the same way I could find out “What NFL Coach Are You?” ( For the curious… Tony Dungy.) Nor was I able to locate a dictionary entry.
Identity in Christ: n: (I-din-tuh-tee n Cry-st) 1: the purpose for which you were created that you can only attain with Christ as your strength 2: meaning of life see also: Secret to life
So while I continued my search, I pretended to know when I heard the phrase because it sounds so simple. I felt like I should know the answer to this. You know the feeling. All of a sudden you are confronted with the need to know (insert important person here) birthday and you are embarrassed to admit it, but you just don’t know. In my heart I knew I was missing something critical. I listened to sermons, read books, did Google searches. After all, if the internet couldn’t tell me what this meant, was there any hope at all?
After hours spent searching and only going in circles finding the same answer, I began to wonder if anyone else really knew the answer either. Maybe the “This-is-something-you-have-
to-discover-for-yourself” answer was just a front for not knowing how to answer this question honestly.
While ultimately this IS only an answer that you can determine, there is a way to break this down for better understanding. First I took the identity part, identity being who I am. Then the “In Christ” part, referencing my belief in Jesus.
And who I am as a firm believer in Jesus is vastly different from who I was when I kept my belief compartmentalized.But this goes far beyond a code of conduct. This is about the passions God himself planted in our hearts, how we pursue these passions and how we apply them in our lives.
If, like me, you are looking for a way to answer this question, think about the things you are good at doing. And if you can’t come up with anything, ask your three most honest friends or family members what your strengths are. Answering this question for me was difficult because my self image had been so damaged in the futile search for success by worldly standards that the enemy used fear and self doubt to keep me from the exact thing God wanted to use in me. But this doesn’t mean that I got to throw caution to the wind and recklessly pursue my passion. Christ wouldn’t want me to neglect my family, finances, and other responsibilities to chase a dream. Nor would He want me to use my talent for immoral or unethical purposes or to hurt others. But He will help me accomplish my goals if I commit to attaining them in a way that honors Him.
Identity in Christ not only refers to finding talents and passions but how we see ourselves, despite what the world tells us.
The world is a tough place and making your mark in it is even tougher. The pressure to succeed in the material world is immense. And even though I wasn’t a billionaire by 30 (… just missed it 🙂 Christ tells me something entirely different than the world. Christ says that I am not ordinary but royalty, a child of the King. Christ says that I have His power inside of me, no matter how weak I feel. Christ says that I am loved and am always heard no matter how alone or insignificant I feel. Christ assures me that I am already accepted, not because of who I am but because of who He is. I can lay down my futile search for meaning in this world because He is that meaning I’ve been searching for.
My identity in Christ is not just about me either.
It is who I am to others as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, sister, friend, etc. It informs my decisions concerning others. Being a follower of Christ carries with it a standard spelled out in the Bible that, if adhered to, assures us peace of mind.
I wish I could say that day in my car that day led to a euphoric turning point in my life where everything was clear and has been smooth sailing since. It was not. It took me some time to find the truth. It has been worth it. The lesson has been slow and some days I feel like I am still right in the middle of it.
But knowing who I am in Christ — what I am supposed to be doing and finding joy in it — is worth all the worldly success in the world.