The missionary statesman, Dr E. Stanley Jones said, "One does not know who he is until he knows whose he is."
If someone asked you to define yourself, think for a moment what you would say. Would you list your hobbies, your job, your family, your skills? Or how about your religion, your personality, and your values? While all of these traits certainly add to the definition of ourselves, they are in no way the foundation to what and who we were created to be.
I want to boldly proclaim that there is only ONE thing that truly defines your identity - the root and foundation of who you are and who you were made to be. That “identity” can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
-David Hyman, of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Australia, says:
“Our identity as Christians is in Christ. If it is not it must be in something else—our nationality, our family, our friends, our possessions, our job. When all these are removed we have nothing, unless we have our identity founded and fixed in Jesus.”
Each and every one of us were made by God, in HIS image and for HIS glory! We can only begin to discover and live out the fullness of our true identity and destiny when we realize that our lives are not our own - we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. We were made in the very image of God and we should take a second to realize that we need to reflect that in the way we view ourselves. We must allow the truth of God’s word to shape and define our identity, our character, our dreams and visions. It is the only way we will fully live out the plans designed specifically for our lives.
For many followers of Christ, this is a process of stripping away the things of the world that claim to be our identity and replacing them with the nature of Christ Jesus.
One of my favorite stories about finding our identity in Christ is that of the Apostle Peter.
Peter’s original name was Simon. Upon meeting Jesus, we are told that "Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas' (which, when translated, is Peter)" (John 1:42).
The meaning of the words Cephas (Aramaic) and Peter (Greek) is 'rock'. Reading through the Gospel stories, one gets the impression that Peter was anything but a rock. He was very much aware of his own sinfulness (Luke 5:8), often spoke out of turn (e.g. Mark 8:32, 33; 9:5, 6), and he denied his knowledge of Jesus three times after boasting he would die for him (Mark 14:29-31; 66-72).
Like Peter, when Jesus looks at us, He sees not so much what we are, but what we can become if we are willing to let him manage our lives in His way.
Jesus goes on to later build the identity of His church on Peter, the rock!
In Matthew 16:18 It states “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Jesus saw who Peter was created to be long before Peter saw it in himself. If you asked Peter early on as a disciple if He was going to be the foundation of the church, he would have told you to go take a hike! How many times have we discredited ourselves and God when asked what or who we were to become in the future? Oh how many times I’ve asked my grandfather if he knew that he was going to build the largest Christian TV station in the world (TBN), what would he have done or said? He has repeatedly told me, “If I had known in the early days what TBN was to become I would have told God that His plans were too big and I was too small!” How many times have you looked at yourself and discredited the plans of God in your life because you felt unqualified!?
Imagine what amazing things God could do in your life if only you would allow him the freedom to define your identity!
The reality is, God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called. Peter was called and so are YOU!
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
To find ourselves, we have to lose ourselves in Jesus. To lead, we have to serve. To live, we have to die to the worlds standards. Jesus came to flip culture and society on its head. What the world is telling us is so countercultural to the identity that you have in Christ!
Blaise Pascal said:
“Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves.”
God made us as divine originals, not cheap copy. Choose today to live above the standards of the world and start viewing yourself from a Kingdom mindset, the way Jesus sees you! Allow Jesus to shape your identity; pray that He would reveal the truth about who you are in His eyes.
Just like Peter, when Jesus looks at you, He sees past the brokenness, past the failures and fears, past the doubts. He sees the truth of who you are. He sees all that your future holds and is inviting you to live your most purposeful life yet, your true identity, and its found in Christ Jesus!
As my good friend Mike Foster says, "Labels lie! and Jesus Saves!"