If I had just met you or been introduced, what is the first question we’d likely ask each other? ‘What do you do?’ Or if I were giving an introduction I would tell you something like, ‘I’m Kristin, I’m a nurse, I’m married to Jon, etc…’ Even over here, I tell people a lot that I am a nurse. Take a second and just think about how you identify or define yourself. (Go ahead, we’ll wait).
Now some of you probably tried to avoid using your job or career and went with something like wife, father, friend, deacon, teacher, daughter etc. (Hopefully not all of those at once). So here is my next question: what happens if all of those things go away or change?
I have begun, unintentionally, identifying\defining myself as a missionary. So what if we fail at that? What if, like many, I suddenly have health problems which require us to leave the field? What if Jon suddenly felt we are called back to the States? What if any number of things arises that would cause us to be tossed into the category of having failed? I’d have no identity. How many of us have ever felt that way; like we suddenly have no idea who we are? That is a horrible feeling that can drive us to desperation to keep whatever defines us. The mother who refuses to be there for her kids because her career demands her attention, the workaholic who can’t let the job be there so he brings it home, the teenager who MUST have a boyfriend/girlfriend, the parent in crisis because they’re suddenly an empty nester, the wife who must be always put together and appear flawless, the missionary who has a checklist of how many salvations and such they need… But I want an identity that I can’t lose based on circumstances. Is there such a thing? I can think of only one. His.
I AM a child, daughter, friend, beloved of God. He is my Father. Try to think of our circumstances that can change that. I can’t think of one, and neither could Paul. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But Paul, what about when I lose my job, or my family is in crisis, or we are fighting or, or, or… NO. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If my confidence and identity is found in Christ a few different things will happen.
First, my relationship with Him WILL become my priority. We pour ourselves out for the things we let identify us. If my identity is in my job, where do I spend my time? But if my identity is in jesus, I will be like Mary desiring to be at His feet. (Luke 10:38-42).
Second, it gives me freedom. My identity is not found in how successful I am. That means I am not afraid to step into the impossibilities of cross-cultural ministry by His leading. Not only do I believe He will bring His will to pass, but it also won’t rock my world WHEN hard circumstances come, or WHEN I fail. I can fail and succeed with surety of step. There is so much freedom in that. Because I am GOING to fail at times; that’s just how it is. But if those failings don’t change who I am (and WHOSE I am) then I can repent and carry on and learn.
So, imagine now that the only identity that mattered to you was son/daughter of God. What would change in your life? Would any of those changes be bad? No! So why not live it out?? Be free. Dig into the Word, pray fervently for God to show you your identity rooted and grounded in Him ALONE. If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, why wait? Jesus came to reconcile us to our Father, all we have to do is have faith. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” This is what is offered. Freedom!
Do not submit yourself again, brothers and sisters, to the yolk of slavery of false identities. Be free to be a wife or husband rooted in Christ, a friend who loves with Christ’s love, an employee who works as unto the Lord, a minister of the gospel of peace who speaks the truth without fear, a son or daughter who honors their father and mother. The beauty of losing our identity for Christ is that He then gives it back to us as it should be. So what if I fail? What if you fail? Well, I am still beloved of God, so I can pick myself up and continue to seek His glory.