Personal identity is such a tricky thing now-a-days. How many times have you questioned something about yourself? How many times have you felt as though someone is judging you for who you are, leaving you contemplating whether their evaluation of you is merit for personal change? The reality is, the age we live in is an age where perspectives and opinions are being thrown before us at an alarming rate. In fact, recent studies show that the average person sees somewhere between 3,000 and 20,000 marketing messages each day. If this is the case, how are we supposed to shape a personal identity that is truly our own, not the manufacturing of the marketing machine built everywhere around us?
The simple answer is that we cannot do it on our own. No matter how hard we try, we are shaped by popular culture, the people around us, and the circumstances that shape our personal history. In fact, we define our identity every day in some very basic ways:
- When we introduce ourselves to someone new, “Hello, my name is ___ and I am a __teacher, mother, businessman, etc…_.”
- We establish an identity whenever we classify ourselves by an emotion, “I am __ sad, happy, love, lonely, etc…__.
- Each and every decision we make (consciously or subconsciously) defines who we are – it could be the kind of school you choose, the type of job you apply for, or even the car you drive.
Each day you are building your identity. The problem is, the trends and experiences we use to establish our identity change all of the time. I know many people whose personal identity was shaped around their money, only to have lost it all in the recent economic depression. I know others who claimed a personal identity out of a personal relationship, only to lose that person in a tragic accident. The reality is…. the only way to plant your identity in something that doesn’t end up changing or washing away, is to plant your identity in Christ.
But, what does this mean for us today? Is that just another trite Christian saying that makes us feel guilty over our shortcomings before moving on to the next identity opportunity? Simply put, no, there are real and practical ways to start shaping an identity that is grounded in Christ and the question we need to be asking is simple…who does God say that we are? In a series of short devotions, I am going to explore to various ways God defines our identity starting here and now.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:26-28
“Let us make mankind in our image,” is such a strong statement. I don’t know about you, but when I wake up in the morning and stumble into the bathroom to brush my teeth, the first time I look into the mirror I normally have something to say about myself. It is generally determined by how I feel things are going, but nonetheless the reflection in mirror provides me an opportunity to make a statement about who I am. When God says that we are made in His image, He is making a very similar statement. In the aforementioned example we actually become God’s mirror. Being made in the image of God means that when the world looks at us, the reflection they see is meant to be God himself. But, let me ask you this… do you feel like much of a reflection of God? Do you think people see God in you when they look at you? This isn’t intended to make you feel bad about decisions you have made, or make, on a regular basis – but it is to say that God created us with an identity that is so closely linked with Him that if He were to look in that very same mirror He would see each of our faces. How loving must God be for His identity to be tied to mine? How much must He trust me to give me an identity of which I am so unworthy?
I challenge you to start reflecting on what it means to be a reflection of God, made in His very image. I don’t want you to think you ARE God and therefore, must be perfect. If you were God, you wouldn’t be the mirror but the man Himself. Instead, reflect on the opportunity He has given you to be in His presence and of His presence. Reflect on the love He showed you giving you such an opportunity. When we reflect on these things, we start to center our lives on Him and when we do this, our identity starts changing to things of His nature instead of things natural to the world we live in today.