In today's world, identity is everything. We all are searching for our "authentic self"; what makes us original, unique, distinctive -- what makes us stand out in the crowd. That's what all the tweets, Facebook posts, endless selfies, and number of "likes" is all about. So many are desperate to create an image of who they want to be. But too often, that identity is based on external characteristics, such as height, race, or age -- things we have no control over. It can also be defined by our politics, our moral compass, or what/who we believe in. How do we get that true image of who we are? The Bible tells us [in Genesis 1:26] that we are all made in the image of God; that our identity can be found in Him. So, what does that mean, and how do we begin to understand, determine, and know our "authentic self"?
That is a struggle that has endured since the Garden of Eden. The serpent challenged Eve to disobey the commandments of her Creator, resulting in a catastrophic transformation in her identity, and the opportunity to lose our identity as well. You see, in that same verse in Genesis 1, God gave mankind dominion over all the earth, and "over every thing that creeps and crawls on the earth". Eve forgot her identity! She had authority over that creepy, crawly serpent, yet she let him sow seeds of doubt about her spiritual and moral identity, and she abandoned her true identity in favor of a false one -- that she would be omniscient like God and know the difference between good and evil.
God never intended for man to know evil; he was given authority over the earth to administer it and make it be like Heaven, where there is no evil. But the temptation to be more than what God made them to be overcame Adam and Eve, and their capitulation to the serpent initiated both a curse upon the earth and a fallen, sinful condition upon mankind ... until God himself came in the flesh to offer us a new identity established and formed in Him. As painful as it is to admit, man cannot be trusted to define his own identity.
I said at the beginning of this post that we are all searching for ways to make ourselves stand out; to be validated for our uniqueness. But can you see that oftentimes that effort results in trying to mimic what we value in someone else or a standard that the world determines is the ideal identity? People just end up trying to all look alike. Sadly, the world's population is still repeating Adam and Eve's mistake ... being tempted by what is offered them in the world, rather than understanding that their identity comes from God. Even if we, as human beings, can grasp that our identity doesn't come from our job, how much money we make, or how many followers we have on Social Media, it's still not enough to claim the label "Christian" as a means of defining and understanding who you are. We must understand who God is! We must understand His character, His nature, and His traits. And most importantly, when it comes to our identity, we must understand what He says about us.
Now, here is where we can fall into another trap. Too many Believers identify themselves as a Christian, as religious, as spiritual, or a number of other credentials to validate their identity with God. We know that God sees us and all we say and do. But just like the serpent did in the Garden of Eden, the Enemy of God tempts us to take our focus off the One who created us [in His image] and what He has done for us, and instead, invites us to center our attention on what God thinks about all we've done in an attempt to prove to Him that our identity lies in Him. If we're not careful, that perspective can become self-serving and our faith becomes rooted in works. We have an attitude that says, "Look, God, at all I've done for You", instead of one that says, "Look world, at all that my Father in Heaven has done for me. I am blessed to be loved, chosen, forgiven, and delivered into the family of God"!
It is important that you know your identity in God. And one of the most important sources is His Holy Word to understand who He says you are. While there are many good leaders in the Church to help you on that journey of discovering your identity, it is important to not rely on their word alone. Seek your Creator, His Son, and the Holy Spirit to reveal the depths of your identity. They alone can reveal your purpose while on this earth and who you were created to be. What they offer you is far greater and of abundant worth, compared to what the world tries to convince you is valuable. The things of this world -- the accolades, the titles, the praise, the applause, the compliments, the number of "likes" you yearn to achieve -- fade away and pale in comparison to the Eternal gifts given to you when your identity lies in Christ and what He did for you by shedding His blood on the Cross.
I felt encouraged by the Holy Spirit to approach this subject today because I am greatly concerned for our younger generations and the identity crises I see in their lives. I am blessed to witness all the new births within my family and friends, and I rejoice as we all celebrate each child and their individual personalities and we watch them grow. But I see the plan of the Enemy and the increasing threat that He brings against those precious children. God has created them with the opportunity to be in relationship with Him as He guides them into their distinctive purpose to re-establish man's dominion on the earth. But the devil has set up networks within the framework of our social order to cause confusion, self-doubt, and spiritual blindness. Our youth are fearful of not being accepted by the world, so they try to be like everyone else. They rely on corrupted systems to define who they are -- letting teachers, Hollywood, Social Media, and their peers establish their image and reflect it back to them.
To safeguard the existence of mankind, it is imperative that parents, grandparents, and Godly mentors take back their influence in our children's lives. When we, as humans, no longer identify with the One who created us, we are susceptible to eradication. When we no longer know who we are in Christ Jesus, then anything and anyone can become our god -- political systems, entertainment giants, the old pagan gods [who are still wielding their power]; even Artificial Intelligence. Is it still possible to raise a generation that believes they are all God says they are? Lord, how I pray it is so! Let us raise a generation that is capable of examining and challenging the false identities that Satan is sowing. Lord, I pray that they will throw off the mantle of lies that has them seeing themselves through a dirty veil, and they will step into the glorious Light of Your Truth and recognize their authentic self: a child of God, growing to look more like You every day, and less like who the world tells them they are.
2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.