Identity is a huge thing for most of us. We want to know who we are. We take little tests to find out our personality traits. We send in our spit to see what our genetic history is and where our ancestry comes from. We search for significance, compare ourselves to others, look for something special about ourselves, explore our place in the world throughout life, spend enormous amounts on our appearance. And in a culture that often idolizes personal independence, personal identity, being understood, accepted, approved of, admired and noted for who we uniquely are seems to become more and more important. I get that. It is important to me too. I know I am introverted, a curious mixture of British, Irish with a little Portuguese thrown in, came out on the Frozen movie quiz as Olaf the little Snowman and try to keep my appearance at least marginally acceptable.
But back to Identity. Tim Keller a Presbyterian pastor and writer wrote:
“Identity apart from God is inherently unstable.”
Soren Kierkegaard a long gone to heaven Christian Philosopher wrote:
“Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is becoming oneself, to get an identity apart from Him.”
I think both Dr Keller and Kierkegaard are right and pin point a real problem many Christians have. They believe in Jesus but do not find their identity in Him. They need God but do not find their significance in that relationship. They keep looking for, trying to obtain an identity that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Yet to all who did receive Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
In the move “Chariots of Fire” one of the runners Harold Abraham, a Jew by birth who had become a non religions man was practicing to run in the Olympics. He said to those wondering why he worked so hard at the sport, “I have ten lonely minutes to justify my existence“. If he finished first, he becomes a winner, if he finishes second he becomes a loser. “Who am I” was his quest too.
Rocky Balboa in the first Rocky Movie was asked why he kept fighting even though he often got beat. “Then I’ll know I’m not a bum“., the message his world had been giving to him as he struggled through life and relationships trying to find a meaning for his existence, an identity.
Jesus knew who He was, He was the Son of God. The adoring crowds did not fool Him, the scribes and Pharisees did not break him, and the cross did not kill Him. “Think of yourselves the way Christ thought of Himself”. From Philippians 2
In this Christmas season I hope we all get a chance to focus on our real identity as sons and daughters of God, the “who we are” that comes simply from valuing belonging to God as our greatest Christmas gift.