In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
What defines you—the real you? Here’s list of the things I use in my own life and what I see others using to define who we are and the value, comfort and security we derive from these tags and activities. If the list is too long, forgive me, but I think it illustrates the point of our identity crisis.
1. I’m a Steelers fan.
2. I’m a Yankees fan.
3. Golf is my life.
4. I hate sports.
5. I love modern architecture and will only live in the more up-and-coming neighborhoods.
6. My family’s lived in this part of the county for 5 generations. If you don’t like our little Podunk town, leave!
7. I am concerned about my physical appearance…it says a lot about my outlook on life.
8. Being concerned about physical appearance is so superficial.
9. I always shop at Wal-Mart.
10. I never shop at Wal-Mart.
11. I’m a Republican.
12. I’m a Democrat.
13. I love Country Music and hate Hip Hop.
14. I love Hip Hop … who listens to Country Music anymore any way?
15. I love to work with my hands.
16. I pay the handyman to do all my projects.
17. I only eat organic foods.
18. I eat anything that doesn’t move.
19. I’m addicted to computer games … can’t get enough!
20. Computer games are such a waste of time!
21. I only buy coffee at Starbucks.
22. I, like other real men, drink convenience store coffee.
23. I only read from the English Standard Version of the Bible.
24. I prefer using several different translations of the Bible.
25. I only sing hymns.
26. I want to experience God in a fresh way that reflects His continuing work in the church and I will do that through many different styles of music.
27. I'm a productive engineer.
28. I'm a creative painter.
29. I'm a great organizer.
30. I'm carefree and easy-going.
Do you see anything in the list that resonates with you? Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with having preferences. We all have them—some are just nobler than others (snicker, snicker). The scary thing for me is how often I find myself slipping back into this mode of measuring my worth and determining who I am by lesser things such as really disliking coffee, the Yankees and baseball in general.
What does Scripture have to say about my identity? Since I am in Christ—this fact is mentioned 9 times in these 11 short verses according to my count—there is so much more to provide my identity and define who I am than just my preferences in life. Here is a short list of who I am, in Christ, based on Ephesians 1:
1. In Christ, I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
2. In Christ, I am chosen.
3. In Christ, I am holy and blameless before Him.
4. In Christ, I am a son of God through adoption.
5. In Christ, I am redeemed, forgiven and rich with His grace.
6. In Christ, I am united to Him.
7. In Christ, I am an heir of eternal glory and wealth.
8. In Christ, I am sealed by the Holy Spirit.
9. In Christ, I am to the praise of His glorious grace.
The first list pales in comparison to the second. More than that, it is putrid when set beside the transformation that has taken place in me because of what Christ has done. As the apostle Peter put it:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV)
Lord, it’s my prayer that I would always fight to remember who I am in Christ and value this treasured position over any temporary, empty tags the world or I place on myself.