“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”
1 John 3:2
A number of Christian teachers make a big deal about who God says that you are, and indeed an important issue it is. If you ever feel insignificant or unloved, reviewing the following Scriptures can be most encouraging. The Bible tells us that if we are Believers we are:
Joint heirs with Christ : Romans 8:17
Children of God: 1 John 3:1-2, 1:12
Beloved of God Romans 1:7, 9:25, Ephesians 5:1
A new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Called holy: Colossians 3:12
Given the righteousness of Christ: Romans 4:13, 24 5:17, 9:30, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21
(For a more complete list, check out this site by Joyce Meyer:
These truths are foundational: the starting point for any understanding of identity and meaning in life. They are statements of position that must affect how I live: since I am a child of God (for example), I must believe and behave accordingly. This is not about being well-behaved, but how understanding that role determines how I see myself, how I view God, and my attitude towards life and the entire world. These are issues of perspective (world view) and attitude that determine how I relate to the world.
But there is more to identity than position or title and the resulting approach to the world and life in general. The bigger picture includes every facet of who you are.
There are a number of external factors that can define identity: relationships with God, family and friends, influence and position in society, job type and title, skills, experience, and training, etc, etc. Then there are the internal facets of identity: beliefs, passions, values, attitude, and character. Of these I think character is the most significant, because it requires the greatest investment of time and effort, and is therefore the best indicator of who a person really is.
A person of high position/title commands respect by virtue of his position, and that respect is reinforced by his or her depth of character. On the other hand, a person of high position but without character will exercise authority only by virtue of his position, and will not command the respect nor the compliance that he might wish.
One’s identity determines his authority and therefore his impact. It is a precious possession that must be developed, valued, and guarded/protected.
When I read a statement, a quotation, or a book, I want to know who said or wrote it: that will determine how much value I will place on what was said. The same with a command: when someone demands that I do (or not do) something, my response depends on who they are and thus the authority that they carry. If someone loves, or if they hate something about me (or what I do), the impact on me depends entirely on who they are, and especially who they are in relation to me.
Our position is declared/bestowed by God, while the internal (character) issues are the responsibility of the individual. God’s declarations give us opportunity, our efforts are necessary to grow knowledge and skills, and our choices (particularly in the face of hard decisions in tough times) either grow or diminish our character. In other words, position opens the door of opportunity; knowledge, skills and personal connections establish the arena and breadth of influence, while character determines the depth and quality of impact. As in every other facet of life, we work in partnership with God: we do what has been delegated to us, and He does the rest. (Philippians 2:12-13)
This is significant because everyone wants to have an impact on the world, and impact is determined by identity. Who you are determines the quality of what you say and do, while character imparts value and power to your words and actions.
This is power that resides in an individual whether the source (deep character) is known or recognized by anyone that it impacts. Actions speak louder than words, and whatever comes from the heart, whether words or actions, has far deeper impact than that which comes from the mind. Therefore, who you are: who God has created you to be, what you are made of and what is in your heart (what has been placed there and allowed to stay) determines your impact on the world. Few things are more important.
God bestows on us an identity that it is all about who we are in Christ, and Allison Bown says “I needed to become who God had always seen me to be” (The Image, pg 21). So, God sees us in Christ while bestowing an identity that is a definition of our full potential. It encompasses the whole person: the external/positional as well as the internal facets of identity. And it is up to each of us to develop and grow to the full potential that God has made available to us.
The goal in life is to become all that He says that I am.
David vs Saul: What was the difference in David and Saul? Why was one a tragic failure and the other (in spite of his sin) a consummate success? Saul was changed by God in an instant (“Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.” 1 Samuel 10:6), while David went through years of training and discipline: before and after being anointed by Samuel. As a result, David had depth of character and a history with God, while Saul did not. And authority that is delegated/bestowed must be exercised with character, or it will be corrupted. This is where the two facets of identity (internal and external) come together.
While salvation removes many of the barriers to progress and growth, it does not mark the end of the process, but a new beginning. The struggle to reach our full potential will still require the commitment of every resource we have, and is not possible without salvation.
This growth is my responsibility: God won’t do it for me, but I cannot and don’t have to do it without His presence and help. We cannot just passively accept this identity that has been bestowed, but must also play an active role in its fulfillment. Allison (The Image) says on pg 25: “…transformation is a relational process with God that occurs as we travel and requires our passionate participation.”
Back to the opening question: Who are you? And who have you chosen to be, in light of what God has given you and declared you to be?
The Photo: The sun breaking through as a snowstorm moves out of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.