I love to paint. A co-worker once called me an " artist.” This moment stands out to me because no one had ever called me an artist before. From that point on, I felt like I could create anything!
If being identified as an artist motivated me, I think it's safe to say identity is really important. Knowing who we are and how we’re to find our identity are such important issues that God talks about them in the Bible. He wants us to be defined by His unshakable love.
The reasons we define ourselves by things that are changeable hide under the surface of our hearts. Many times, we don't even realize our identity is in something or someone other than our creator. Here are two reasons why we choose to put our identity in something other than Jesus Christ:
The first reason our identity is in another place, person, or thing may be because we have a human way of looking at things. I thought that finding my identity in Christ meant "looking like a Christian." Maybe I thought this way because of how I've wanted to identify myself in the past. When you wanted to identify as the "skater,” the "soccer player," or the "cheerleader" in high school, you looked the part. You wore the tight jeans, the baggy T-shirt, or the jean skirt. I wasn't into labels in high school, but when I was accepted into my first internship program, I bought new office attire. I wanted to look the part.
I thought that I had to look and act the part of a Christian too. To find your identity in Christ means quite the opposite. Finding your identity in Christ is deeper than what we look like. This faulty thinking comes from the thought that we have to do something to make God love us.
I have a pretty great family and I remember feeling like I could be myself at home. I was born Hannah. My family loved me regardless of deciding to dye my hair pink or not. Maybe you didn't get to have the same experience at home. Regardless, this is how God sees you. You are a Child of God–a son or daughter of the King. Nothing can take that away from you. That is your identity. It is not what you do, but who you've been created and designed to be. Don't just take my word for it; 1 John 3:1 says, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will have not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."
Another great verse to know is John 1:12-13, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
The second reason we have identity issues is that we let things like work, kids, marriage, passions, and hobbies slowly become what defines us. We elevate other people, possessions, and work to the level of “kings” in our lives. It sneaks out in the ways we react when we have to respond to our identity having to shift. Unlike having our identity in Christ, everything else changes and is flawed. Children grow up and move out. Your job changes. Your friend moves. You get an injury and can no longer perform or compete like you used to. Money comes and goes.
The Israelites had that issue in 1 Sam 8:4-5, "So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
God's people looked around and saw that all the other nations had a king to represent them and give them an identity. That is when the people asked Samuel to give them a king.
The Israelites did end up making Saul their king according to 1 Sam. 11:14-15, "'Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.' So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration."
However, Saul didn't turn out to be the best king.
"Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned. I violated the Lord's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.' But Samuel said to him, 'I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!'" (1 Samuel 15:24-26).
The entire time God was leading their nation - the Israelites didn't need a king.
Where are you looking to find your identity?
If being called an artist gave me joy and motivated me, how much joy does it fill your heart to know that you belong in God's family even more than you fit into the things of this world? He wants you to be defined by his love.
Place your identity in Jesus today by asking God to help you gain wisdom and understanding to submit to the truth that His view of you far surpasses anything this world can offer.
Hannah Lynn hosts Moody Radio’s That’s Real and is an engineer for Karl and Crew mornings. She grew up as a homeschooler on a tree farm, plays the harp (ask her about harp camp), drives a Prius (don’t judge), and started a fashion blog while a student at Moody Bible Institute (yes, that’s possible). Hannah loves to tell people about Jesus—as a seven-year-old she witnessed to her ballet teacher, then she started a Young Life club while in high school. Now she mentors teens with her husband, John, who serves as a youth pastor.
That’s Real with Hannah Lynn gives a one-minute dose of encouragement and advice to young adults who want to love and live God’s Word. Her fast-paced mix of storytelling and Bible truth helps create understanding between young believers and anyone who wants to follow Jesus one day at a time.