Christians, Your Identity Isn’t Your Identifiers

Christians, Your Identity Isn’t Your Identifiers

An identity founded upon identifiers is an extremely fragile, vulnerable, and fickle foundation. My marriage, as amazing as it is, cannot be my identity because it will inevitably change. My profession, as much as I love it, will not happen in heaven. My relationships and responsibilities uniquely contribute to my identifiers but make a poor identity. 

Emile Ratelband wants to be identified as a forty-nine-year-old male. The problem is that he was born sixty-nine years ago. Emile not only wants to personally define his identity so he can have more prospects on dating apps like Tinder, he is also taking it a step further and asking the Netherlands to legally change his birthday. As ridiculous as this may seem, it may be considered a logical outcome of a world that now views identity as self-declared and self-developed.

The question of identity is not limited to age however—sexual and gender identity are currently hot-button issues at the forefront of our conversations.  As we consider this cultural shift in our thinking, we must confront our own questions in relation to identity: Does God have anything to say about personal identity? Who am I? What’s my deepest personal identity?

Not only does God care about your identity far more than you can hope or imagine, but he has gone through the greatest pain to give his children an entirely different identity. Despite our disobedience, Christians have the distinct honor of being a people belonging to God, hidden with Christ in God (1 Pet. 2:9; Col. 3:1–4).

Unfortunately, the gospel narrative isn’t the only storyline being told about personal identity. Culture is telling—nay, shouting—a narrative of false identity. As the light of the world (Matt. 5:14) it’s vital that people know the difference. When I sit down for coffee with neighbors and even members at our church, I use the following three widely believed fallacies to help point them to the freedom of the gospel narrative regarding identity.

Fallacy #1: Your personal identity comes from within. The world says that your identity is based on mainly one person: you. You define you. You declare who you are. The mantra of our day could be summed up in a line from William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Emile Ratelband’s desire to officially become a forty-nine-year-old is the natural outworking of the hyper individual and false sense of freedom of our day. “Nowadays, we are all free people and we have a free will to change things,” Ratelband declared, “So I want to change my age. I feel I am about forty to forty-five.”

The challenge is that self can never carry the weight of self. You were not made to be enough for you. While we most assuredly experience external brokenness, the greatest cause of most of the brokenness we experience is ourselves. You have wronged yourself, lied to yourself, and led yourself astray more than anyone else.

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