When I was a kid, I fell in love with trains. I had train games, books, toys and models. My huge interest in trains defined who I was, shaping how I spent my time and money. I was a proud train enthusiast. When I went to high school, my identity was no longer in trains. Instead, who I was was shaped by my achievements at school, as well as my public image. I wanted to be successful so that everyone would love me.
It seemed that my identity changed over time – it was never permanently secured in one thing. It was always based on something transient. As I have thought more about this, there seem to be three major ways people define who they are, but only through one of these ways can we find a secure, permanent identity.
1.The first way we may try to define ourselves is through our achievements. At school, these achievements could be academic, sporting, or musical. As adults, they could be in our jobs and career. The problem is that our identity is never complete because there is always something more to achieve. Failures can shatter our value as a person. This identity can never be secure.
2.The second way we may try to define ourselves is through how others perceive us. It can come through seeking the approval of people in general, or from a smaller community of people like your family or friends. It feels good to be affirmed by others. The problem is that reputations can be fragile. A changed perception, or someone taking something the wrong way can destroy the image we have of ourselves. Sometimes falling out of favour with someone will do the same thing.
3. The third way, and the best way, is to find our identity in God. The bible talks about identity in a few different places.
In John 1: 12 it says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”
We can have a new identity in Christ, one that is permanent and secure. If you would like to know more about how you can find your identity in Christ, click here.
It is quite common to look for our identity in the wrong places, whether it is our habits and achievements, or how the others see us. However, the identity found in those places is fragile. A better identity is one that is not dependent on achievement or the perceptions of others, but instead is based on our intrinsic value as God’s creation. It is permanent, secure, and no one can take it away. So forget the trains, forget the achievements and the image – my identity is found in God! Where does your identity lie?
First published Aug 22, 2016 at studentlife.org.nz by Glenn Thomas
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