Most of us go through this life trying to figure out who we are, what makes us important, and what is important to us. Along the way we go through things. We end up with more baggage than a shopaholic on Black Friday. We go through this journey of life trying to find our identity. In the process we get impatient. We want to know who we are so badly that we take a fake ID. We search for our identity in the wrong places.
There are several fake IDs the world gives us.
1. Your Failures. Along the road to the discovery of who we truly are there are numerous pitfalls. We try. We fail. That’s as far as some of us get. We hit that first bump in the road or maybe we just hit so many bumps we give up on our identity. We fail so we see ourselves as failures. We define our lives by our failures. That is not your identity. Failure happens but that is not who you are. Failure is a fake ID and a bad one.
2. Your Effort. This week I was reading an article about twelve habits of highly successful people. The main point was that successful people fail forward. They fail just the rest of us, they just learn from their failure. They find a way to avoid repeating it. When you fail don’t give up. Do better. Figure out what when wrong and fix it. Work harder. Keep going. Be successful. Be the best you can be. Do what you can. You can do it. If you work hard enough you can be successful too. It’s all about how much effort you are willing to give. Think about the American dream, if you try hard enough and persevere you can do anything. We raise our kids telling them they can be anything. No matter how hard I try, I’m never going to be Miss America. Hard work is a good thing but not a good ID. Trying is a prison of our own design. It gives us something to do. It makes us feel like we are getting somewhere. On our own, we are like a gerbil on a wheel. We can run until we pass out, all it will get us is tired. Our effort often becomes our identity. You can work hard. But it’s not who you are. You are more than the work you do.
3. Your job. We get up and we go to work. You probably spend a majority of your week doing your job. Your job takes up so much of your time and energy it can easily start becoming the source of your identity. We see ourselves through the lens of what we do. We can even try to explain our actions with our profession. I had a good friend who was police officer. He made a lot of inappropriate jokes because that’s what the other cops around him did. Rather than acknowledging it he would shrug it off and say: “Eh, what can I do, I’m a cop. This is how we talk.” When we see ourselves in what we do we start to explain or justify our actions as a result of our occupation. You have a job. You aren’t a job. When you get your ID from your job, your work becomes an idol. A job, a career is something you do. It can influence you but it doesn’t define you. Your occupation is not who you are.
4. Your Achievements. When we avoid or overcome the pitfalls of failure through hard work and perseverance we can accomplish a lot. What often happens is that we let our accomplishments start to change our understanding of who we are. We find our identity in our resume. Look at the impressive list of things I have accomplished in my life. We start thinking that who we are is nothing more than what we have done. You are not an award, a hobby, or any other achievement. You can hunt but you are not just a hunter. You can fish but fishing doesn’t make you who you are. You do the things you do but the things you do are not you.
5. Your Family. Not all ID’s come from work. Sometimes we find ourselves in our relationships. We see ourselves as a husband or a wife, a father or a mother. We let our relationship status with other people determine who we are. Your family is very important. They are a part of your identity. When we view our family or our role in the family as who we are, our family becomes an idol. You can’t be the best husband or the best wife if your spouse comes first. If you put them over God you will not love them as well. Our family has an important influence on our lives. Our family plays a big role in how we grow and live but our family doesn’t define us. Your identity is bigger than the people who share your name.
6. Your Appearance. We live in a shallow world. The ideal body image that gets paraded in front of us by the media is ridiculous. Not only do we allow the world to define beauty for us. We allow them to tell us that if we don’t look the way they think we should look that we are less attractive, less desirable, less important. You are not how you look. Who you are is much deeper than what people see.
7. Your Reputation. Too often we live for how others see us. We let their opinions dictate our actions. We cater to what they think and we allow their thoughts to rule our lives. Our world becomes a stage and our life a performance to try and win their approval. This is called the fear of man. It’s what happens when you are so concerned with what others think that it changes your beliefs or behavior. When we find our identity in what others think of us we can never be happy unless everyone loves us. We devote our lives to pleasing people. We cower them as if they are God and we live as slaves. You have an ID. That ID is not determined by what somebody else thinks of you. Now if every person in your school or at your work thinks you are a jerk you might have to start questioning your behavior. Other people don’t get to decide who you are. It’s not their call.
You know what these ID’s all have in common? They can be lost. They can be taken away. If you define who you are in one of these areas at some point that area will fail you and you will be left trying to figure out what to do next because you will lost and broken. You have ID. Not a temporary ID. Not an ID that is contingent on someone else. It doesn’t come from others, from what you do, or even from who you are. You ID is all about image.
In the NT image refers to something bearing the likeness of something else. In Matthew 22 the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with a trick question about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds with a question: whose image is on the coin? Coins at this time were all engraved with the face of the emperor. They all had his image on them. The coin bears the image of Caesar. Jesus says, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Then He looks at the people who bear the image of their creator and says, “give to God what is God’s.”
You want to know who you are? You are child of God. Made in the image of God. You were created to be loved by God, to experience the joy of a relationship with Him, and to share that joy with others. When we live in the joy and peace of God and stop trying to prove who we are or what we are His image begins to transform us.
Your life will bear an image of where you find your identity. If your identity is in this life, in this world, that is what you will look like. If you stop trying to define yourself and let God define you, you will bear His image. Then you will never have to tell people you are a Christian again, because they will know.


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