Why Identity Matters
When talking about identity, a good place to start is to talk about why it even matters.
“Identity is the foundation on which our individual uniqueness rests. Identity secures that which satisfies the deepest longings of our lives. The ground of our identity, whether rock solid or shifting sand, impacts our self-esteem and self-worth and directly influences the questions of purpose and significance in our quest for meaningful existence. These are by no means small matters. They serve as the structural steel we build our lives on. Identity matters” ~Terry Wardle, Identity Matters
Wow. If all of those things are resting on the ground of our identity, then we should probably give some thought to just what that ground is made of.
So, what is the ground of your identity made of?
My ground used to be made of things like titles, pay, accomplishments and compliments. My self-worth was determined by whether or not I was successful in obtaining these things. As long as I could refer to myself by a particular title (the higher, the better) and I was well-liked by others, I thought I was doing okay. Unfortunately, whenever a title was lost, pay disappeared, the glory of an accomplishment faded, or I was criticized – I fell apart. And I would find myself playing games and compromising in order to maintain some kind of control and to try to keep my world from crumbling. No wonder I was miserable. But I was just doing what the world taught me I needed to do in order to be successful and secure. Right?
My identity rested on shifting sand. I was fine when the sun was shining, but when the storms came – and they will come – I was tossed about by the wind and everything that I had built up came crashing down. Jesus even talks about the ground of our identity in Matthew:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
Yesterday, I shared Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
It took some time, but I finally realized that my life is not my own. Jesus paid the debt that I owed. If I truly believed Galatians 2:20, and everything else that is written in the Bible for that matter, then perhaps I was placing my faith in the wrong things. I began to see that even though I claimed Jesus as my Savior, I still considered my life my own. I wasn’t fully surrendered to Him, I was simply trying to incorporate Him into a life that I thought I controlled. I said that I loved Him, but when push came to shove, I was still calling the shots and expecting Him to bless my choices. I was trusting Him very little and obeying Him even less. And then I would wonder why I continued to struggle with the same issues in my life…over and over and over, again.
I would like to make something clear. I wasn’t doing bad things or being outright rebellious. From my outside appearance, I looked like a good Christian woman who loved Jesus and served in ministry. My heart and my mind were the problem. God could see it, even when no one else could. Even when I couldn’t see it, myself. The amazing thing is though, He loved me far too much to leave me in that condition. And that’s how He feels about ALL of His children. That’s how He feels about YOU.
I challenge you to spend some time in prayer about what the ground of your identity is truly made of. Is it made of solid rock? Shifting sand? Is it mostly solid, but maybe has a few cracks here and there? If a storm came today, how would you fare? Now is a good time to be honest…with yourself and with God. It’s not like He doesn’t already know.
And then my hope is that you would allow the Holy Spirit to begin to change your heart and mind in those areas where you may not have fully surrendered to Christ. When we surrender every area of our life to the One who died so that we could live, it is then that our identity truly begins to rest on solid ground.
We’ll talk more about what that looks like in the coming days.
Wardle, Terry. (2017) Identity Matters: Discovering Who You Are In Christ. Abilene, TX: Leafwood