Does being a wife or mom or _____ define me? Or is my identity in something bigger?
A sports team
Being a mom
Being a wife
These are some of the many places that people find their identity. One of the ways identity is defined is the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. The key word here is distinguishing. That means it is the defining factor. I'm a mom, but is that what defines me? I love pizza, but hopefully THAT doesn't define me:). My chief identity as a Christian is a follower of Jesus, a disciple of Christ. That is both a huge comfort and a reminder to live out our identity properly.
First of all, knowing that our identity is found in Christ is a huge comfort. If my identity is found in anything else, I will be disappointed. We live in a fallen world, and everything else will fail us at one time or another. Silly example: If my identity is in the Patriots, then last night might have devastated me. Another more serious example: If my identity is in being a mom, what happens when my kids grow up and leave home? Will I feel lost and without a purpose? Literally every example someone could give would ultimately disappoint us because this world is not our home and will never be perfect. But having our identity in Christ will always give us hope. When God looks at us, He sees Christ's righteousness, not our sin. We have Christ's power every day. We are children of God.
Let's get honest. As a mom, it can be discouraging if I only focus on being a mom. If my life is defined by changing diapers, feeding babies, and cleaning my house, I can begin to feel like I don't have a real purpose. That's why it's easy for so many of us to become discouraged as moms. But, if I first see myself as a disciple of Jesus, I will look at everything through that lens. When I take care of my children first as a follower of Jesus, I am reminded that even the little mundane things in this job can be done for a higher purpose: to show my children the love of Christ. It makes those things not so mundane after all! I can live out my ultimate purpose and identity by being a mom! What an awesome thought. Nothing has to be wasted. This can apply to so many areas of life. We don't necessarily need to throw out our other identities, we just need to make them fall under our ultimate identity.
When I hear that my chief identity is being a follower of Christ, it not only comforts me and reminds me of my true purpose, but it also helps me remember to live out my identity properly. Romans 6:6 reminds us that our old self was crucified with Christ so we are no longer slaves to sin. This should be so freeing to hear! As we live each day, we don't have to live as a slave to our sin. We don't have to give into our emotions when something does not go as planned. By God's great grace, we can choose to follow Him with each decision. Another huge way it reminds us of our purpose is that it shows us our place in the bigger picture of the body of Christ. Romans 15:5-7 talks about being unified around Christ. When we as Christians all find our identity in Christ, it helps us live in community with other believers around us. When we forget our identity in Christ, it can cause huge divisions. If my identity is in my hobby and another Christian brother or sister has a completely different hobby that is their identity, it becomes hard for us to connect. We begin to say things like, "I have nothing in common with them," or "we don't see eye to eye on anything." If our identity is in being a follower of Jesus, we already have the BIGGEST thing in common- Jesus! We always have something in common with other believers. Yes, we all have our things we like to do or talk about, but who cares if they are different? We can still fellowship around the fact that Christ has saved us, rescued us from our sins, and given us a NEW purpose.
So, what does this have to do my daily living? How do I know how to live out my identity in Christ? Recently, I read a quote in a book called Uninvited that said, "God, I want your truth to be the loudest voice in my life." A little earlier on that page it said, "What consumes my thinking will be the making or the breaking of my identity." In basic terms, what we think about will start to consume who we are. If all I think about it how I'm a mom, then that will begin to be all I think of myself as. If I only think about my favorite sports team, then my emotions will begin to revolve around if they win or lose. If I dwell on my past and let that define me, that becomes my identity and I begin to think that's how things will always be. However, when I consistently feast on God's truth, that will start to change my thinking. What an amazing thought! I will being to realize who I am in Christ and what He has given me.
Here's a practical example. Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." When I read this verse, it tells me so much about my identity in Christ. Since I now have Christ's identity instead of my own, Christ lives through me. He gives me the power to defeat sin and live in victory. I now live through His power, not my own. When we start to read through God's Word, He continues to show us more of who He is and what He has given us in Him. We haven't just been saved so we can go to heaven someday. He gives us a new purpose and identity here on earth. So when we start to get disappointed because what our identity is in fails us again, it is a reminder to run back to the Bible and dwell on truth. When our identity is in being a follower of Christ, it not only changes our thinking, but will affect every aspect of our lives.