Identity. I like the sound of that. I like the thought of finding my identity, identifying with something, in something, finding that worth and meaning we all seek our whole lives. Where do I put my identity? I feel like I have just now started to figure out what it means to find my identity in Christ.
Often, I put it in my intelligence, in my ability to do what is required. I put it in my job, my work ethic, my high performance, the esteem my co-workers and supervisors give me. I put it in my relationships, my ability to please, my capacity to exceed expectations. I put it in my status, in feeling constantly needed – like everything will fall apart without my integral connection to it.
I’ve had my own identity crises when I could no longer meet expectations, my high performance couldn’t reach high enough, the bar raised higher than my striving, and I stretched myself thinner and thinner and thinner. The more I turn to bosses and boyfriends and best friends for validation – anything other than Christ – the more frantic my quest for identity becomes.
Like the Colossians, I struggle grasp the supremacy of Christ. Sure, Jesus saved me but… It can’t just be grace. It must be Jesus plus my efforts or Jesus plus something I earned. That extra leaves me bereft and soul crushed. When I can’t perform it drags me into a tailspin of depression.
I need Paul’s rebuke. I need the reminders that permeate the whole of his letters, starting with his greetings. His very first sentence roots his identity firmly and only in Christ – Christ alone. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” He doesn’t reference his past before Christ. He doesn’t call to attention his resume of education and political references. He doesn’t mention the resources at his disposal or even defend his reasons for writing.
It wasn’t because of his striving or his performance or even his zeal. It was by the will of God.
We are in Christ, not because of what we have done but because of what he has done on the cross. Only Jesus should be the one to name me.
I am Christ’s, not because of something abstract, but because of his intentional suffering and sacrifice on the cross in my stead. I am Christ’s by the will of God. My worth comes only from my God who creates and reconciles and sustains all things. He deems me worthy when he looks at Christ.
We become what we worship. We reflect what we constantly seek. As I mature in faith, wisdom, and experience I pray that everything I do flows out of gratitude for the grace and mercy given me. I work to call grace to mind moment by moment so I can bite my sharp tongue and curb my annoyance when things don’t go my way.
Paul calls the Colossians brothers. He appeals to them as family; brothers and sisters in Christ – those whose lives changed because of following Christ. Jesus himself says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been redeemed, saved, reconciled, yanked from the darkness, forgiven so much. Daily, I wrestle with undertaking daily things, trivial things, scary things, monumental things. Along the way I try to remember what kindness he has shown me and long to give of myself in the same way. I want to show Christ. I want to model and image him well.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
It can only end in Christ. He is our only hope in this mess we have made. And the very best thing is that even if I fail miserably at every single endeavor, my identity in Christ does not change. My worth in him is not moved. I am not less. I am not more. I am Christ’s.
Based on Colossians 1:1-2
Check out the Identity Crisis message series at Discover Grace (http://discovergrace.com/messages/)