Your Christian Identity
By Pastor Aaron Adame
Much of what it means to be a person living in this fallen world is a (re)discovery of who we are. The existential questions like Why am I here? What is the purpose to my existence? What’s my identity? are common place.
People think and feel this way because we are wired by our Creator to long for something more, to be in fellowship with God. Without Him, our souls are restless and our identity, incomplete at best.
You see, when God created mankind, He gave them a very specific identity. In the beginning of the book of Genesis, it says that people were created bearing the image of God—this is our identity.
Despite secular and a pop cultural opinion, we didn’t just happen to form out of some lifeless slime or a big bang, which would render all of life meaningless and absent of any true answers to our questions. No, instead, you and I were designed and created by God, for God, in the image of God. You were created with purpose and meaning, which also informs your identity. Your true identity is not found in the things you do or in the family or neighborhood you grew up or in the choices you make. Your identity is known only through and in God Himself. Which means that only the believer is able to truly (though not fully) understand their identity through faith in Jesus, in whose image we are being remade.
For all of you who are Christians—people who recognize their need for Jesus and trust in Him by faith for your salvation and are in a relationship with the living God—The New Testament gives many examples of what your identity in Christ is now through faith. For example, you are now saints, God’s people, God’s possession, God’s sons and daughters, God’s ambassadors, God’s heirs, the object of His love and grace, God’s chosen. And in 1 John, we are now identified as God’s children.
“See what love the Father has given 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. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” John3:1-3
Your identity is first discovered in the love of God.
John starts off saying, “see what love the Father has given to us…” The phrasing in that statement implies measurement. Oftentimes parents, in order to show how much they love their kids, stretch out their arms and say, “I love you this much.” John wants us to observe the measurement of God’s love for His children.
If you ever doubt God’s love for you, take a look and see what love He has given to you. That through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross, which ransomed you from your sin, you are now called a child of God, and that is what you are.
Now, some would say, “Aren’t we all God’s children?” And the answer is actually no. We are all God’s creation, made in His image. But only those who have put their faith in Christ are called God’s children. When you become a Christian, you take on a new identity. You are an adopted child of God, purchased and sealed by the blood of Christ and the Spirit.
There’s a really old movie, a musical classic called Annie. The premise of the movie is that Annie was a red-headed child (literally) living in an orphanage. Yet for the sake of some public relations work, Mr. Warbucks, a billionaire, gets this little girl to live at his mansion estate and allows her to enjoy all the luxuries and privileges of his fortune. Throughout the movie, these two build a great relationship with each other, and he ends up adopting her, and she becomes his daughter. No longer is she an orphan; instead, she now carries the name of Warbucks with her wherever she goes with the privileges of that relationship.
Not only is it a privilege to be able to know and say that you are a child of God, but with that relationship comes other great privileges as well. Ephesians chapter 1 gives an incredible list of many of these blessings.
Do you realize all that you have in Christ? Because we are often so discontent, we fail to recognize all that we have. And yet Paul says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
Peter writes an incredible statement in 2 Peter 1:3-4: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
If there is one thing I want you to understand, it is this: God loves you, and that love has compelled Him to call you into his family, where you and I can enjoy all the spiritual privileges of that relationship. You are spiritually rich because of who you arein Christ.
Your identity is found in God Himself.
John goes on to write in verse 1: “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” He says this because the world cannot identify with those who are adopted into the family of God. You see, even though all people are created in the image of God, not all people can identify themselves with God completely because of sin. Sin has caused that image to be distorted and twisted. And because of that the world cannot (and quite honestly should not) identify with us because it does not know God.
Unfortunately, people who remain outside the family of God are identified in the New Testament with very different language. People in the world are identified as children of wrath, people of darkness, objects of wrath, and the lost, the blind, the debased, and the vessels of dishonor. This is what the writers of the New Testament identify the people in the world as (and all of us once were those people apart from grace). Far different language than what those who have been saved are called. The people in the world don’t understand us because they can’t identify with us. They can’t understand why we have joy in the midst of trials and suffering. They can’t understand why we have hope when we live in a world that is falling apart at the seams. When the world sees us living for Jesus and worshipping God with our whole lives, they don’t understand. They can’t identify with us. John explains that this is because they don’t know God, who is the object of our new identity.
John goes on and writes in verse 2 saying, “Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”The key statement in that verse is, “we will be like Him.”
Your purpose is to reflect God Himself.
God created us in His image. And through Christ He is recreating His image in us that sin has distorted. Therefore, God’s purpose for our lives is to reflect Him and His attributes in the world. This is our purpose, and it flows from our identity.
John Piper said it well when he said, “He has given us our identity in order that His identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us…. God made us who we are to show the world who He is.”
This statement makes our identity so much more incredible. It gives our lives so much meaning and purpose. That through everything God has done for you and all the things He has granted to you, God is now choosing to use you to reflect who He is to the rest of the world.
Therefore, being a Christian and making the greatness of God known to the world are inseparable facets of our faith. As a Christian, when the world sees you, they should see the heart, character, and magnitude of God. This is done through a lifelong process of sanctification, God changing you from the person you once were into the person He has called you to be, into the image of Christ. But nevertheless, it is what God has called you to as His adopted son or daughter, as His image bearer.
The Apostle Paul had this very thing in mind when he penned 2 Cor 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Friends, God has shown you incredible love when He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross in your place in order that you might receive the adoption into His family and find your identity in Him. No longer are you called sinners, but saints. No longer are you children of wrath, but children of God. Again, God made us who we are to show the world how great He is!