In a room of about 40 young adults between 18-30 years old, a resounding answer of, “Who we are!” was given to the question, “What is identity?” I agreed, pondering on my own struggles with this topic. Most prominent though, was my issue of moving to a new country and not knowing where I belonged. My accent was mixed and I didn’t feel at home in either place or accepted by the people of either country. Who was I to be? What was I to do? I was asking the right questions so I soon found the right answers. I just had to start at the beginning.
Identity itself can be defined from several perspectives. Biologically, it is defined in terms of living things’ individuality and how they relate to and operate in their environment. The survival of their species hinges on this. If as a zebra I don’t understand that a lion and I can’t be ‘besties’, the end is near. Philosophically, defining identity explores our origin and destiny– knowing where you came from to know where you’re going. These definitions hint at why identity is so important to us: it reveals purpose. All things must be identified in order for us to know what we should do with them.
Consider how people tend to build their identities on things such as possessions, appearance, ethnicity, culture, interests, work… even nationality, like me. But how should followers of Christ define identity? We must know who He is to be sure of who we are. We build with Jesus as our foundation because Christ is the starting and finishing point of all things identity.
Jesus was called many things both by those for and against Him but He is truly the Son of God as confirmed by both His and His Father’s words. He is Lord and King of all lords and kings. He is the true Light.
Matt. 26:63-64- But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
Matt. 3:16-17- After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Rev. 17:14- They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.“
John 1:9-10- The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.
Our King, the Son of God and the true light of the world, rules, gave His life for and bought us for Himself with His blood. This defines our identity! Our past is gone because anyone in Christ is a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Cor. 5:17)
Jesus says in Matt. 5:14-16:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I found that this was the right answer to my questions. What was I to be? I was to be the light Christ created me to be. What was I to do? Let my light shine. Jesus did not consider my nationality when he gave me a new identity. He doesn’t care about what we look like or what we have or don’t have. When we receive Him as our Saviour, we are made completely new.
As Jesus’ followers we are all identified as light. We must know our role and live it well because our identity in Christ reveals our purpose. Each of us is unique but we are all called to shine our brightest so that the world would see our King. Jesus wants us all to ‘Light it up!’
Ruth Inniss IVCF Bible Study/CellGroup Co. 2014 -2015