Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. | 1 John 3:2-3
There are two common factors that influence
the way we think of ourselves and our lives.
One factor is the fear of man. We all want people to think about us in a certain way. We may want them to think we are successful, good looking, mature in our faith, or have the perfect life. Or we see what others have and think we must have that to be happy. And we often, knowingly or unknowingly, begin to act or work towards reaching a desired status by gaining validation from man. This can easily play out as obsession with the status or unhealthy/sinful behavior to obtain it.
The second factor that influences the way we view ourselves is what we believe God thinks of us. It is easy to say God loves us at times. But in the midst of suffering, trials and sin we may struggle to believe that. You begin to not trust the identity that was given to you through the cross. Or that identity might not be enough for you.
These two factors played a strong role in my identity during a difficult stretch of life. During this stretch, I began to loosen my grip on the identity given to me through the gospel. I did not care too much about what others thought of me, but I cared too much about what I thought of myself.
I began to question my purpose and value as I went through this season that included the loss of loved ones, failure, career disappointment and stepping away from ministry. I did not understand what was going on.
I would ask, “What’s the point if things keep ending badly?” Especially when I sought after the things God tells us to seek after. You begin to think maybe God does not want you to have these things. So you ask:
- “What am I here for?”
- “What is my purpose?”
- “Am I a mistake?”
But the problem was
not the difficult season.
The problem was me.
I was trying to find my identity outside of God. I knew what God said about me through Jesus’s work on the cross. But that validation wasn’t good enough. I wanted to validate myself. I wanted to prove I wasn’t a mistake.
But I had it backwards.
I was using my purpose, what I was doing, to define my identity. But a purpose that is true and free can only be obtained when you first have your identity. So what is our identity in Christ? We could write a whole book on that, but, for our sake, Rich Mullins gives us a short and concise idea:
“Sometimes you try to impress God with all the right words, right things we do, I just don’t think it is an easy thing to impress God Almighty, but here is the thing that we often forget- we don’t have to impress Him, He’s already knocked out about you, he already loves you more than you can imagine.”
Christians are not valuable because of what they do.
They are valuable because God loves them.
Through the gospel, we find an identity that is ours for eternity. It was not given to us on the grounds of what we did or will do, but on the grounds of Christ’s saving work. So the gospel frees us from the bondage of finding our identity and value in what we do because we already have an unchanging eternal value through our identity in Christ.
Jen Wilkin gets the order right here:
“For the believer wanting to know God’s will for her life, the first question to pose is not “what should I do?” But “who should I be?” They are not unrelated. But the order in which we ask matters. If we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self.”
So our purpose isn’t about a calling or what we do.
Our purpose is to be redeemed.
To become like Christ and to enjoy Him.
Our purpose does not define us. Our identity in Christ does.
Our purpose is not our end.
It is just apart of the
journey to redeem us.
“If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” | Lecrae