Identity Crisis

At some point in life, we all go through a crisis in our identity. A teenage girl may feel insecure in knowing how she “fits in” at her school. Is she an athletic type, or a nerd? A middle-aged man may have a similar problem. Once upon a time, he imagined himself being in a different job, having greater success, or accomplishing bigger things in life. But as the years pass by, he begins to wonder if things will ever change.

Nowadays, many people struggle with their identity. Race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationalism, and religion are all different ways we attempt to grasp some sense of who we are. Some of us are content with some of these labels and identities, but we wonder if there are other aspects of ourselves that might need tinkering.

Maybe you are struggling with an identity in the way you look. You feel too fat, too thin, too tall, or too short. You have the wrong color hair, eyes, or makeup. You don’t wear the right clothes. Your skin is too dark, too fair, too red, or too freckled. You have thought that, perhaps, it might be good to contact an image consultant to help shape an identity for yourself that will make you happier, more attractive, and more successful in life.

As we look to the root of this problem, however, we find that insecurities in our identity will never be solved by changing something external about ourselves. We will never be able to change something on the outside that will make us feel happy about who we are on the inside.

Christians find themselves at the intersection of culture on this issue. There is controversy about whether people can be born with a gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other external feature that does not match how they feel on the inside. Some people say that they were born homosexuals, but others say that it is impossible to be born gay. Some people say that they were born female but are trapped inside a man’s body. There are even people who claim to live in human bodies but identify spiritually as animals.

Many religious people–and Christians in particular–strongly oppose the idea that a person can make a choice to believe that they are something on the inside that does not match what is seen on the outside. Perhaps you have heard someone make a statement like this one: “If you want to know if you are a boy or a girl, look between your legs!”

However, Christians should be the first to recognize the power in believing that what people see on the outside–in a person’s flesh–does not represent who we can become on the inside–in our spirits. This is a fundamental teaching of the Christian faith.

In Galatians, Paul makes a very strange statement when he writes, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” This bold claim seems very odd. Christians laugh at the idea that a person can be a female on the inside when the same person looks like a male on the outside, but our understanding of the Gospel depends entirely upon our ability to believe that something is true about our inner nature even when it does not match what is seen externally. Paul says that the people who are looking at him might be seeing a zealous apostle with an inferiority complex, but in Paul’s mind, that man was already dead. Others might have been looking at Paul, but they were seeing Christ.

As Christians, we may look at ourselves in the mirror and see wicked, sinful people, full of abusive thoughts and bad habits. However, the Bible assures us that if we have placed our trust in Jesus, we are the righteousness of God. When we are yelling at our kids, cussing at drivers on the road, drinking too much alcohol, or crossing sexual boundaries, we certainly don’t look like the righteousness of God. Still, we maintain an identity of righteousness by believing what God says is true about who we are on the inside even when it does not match how we look on the outside.

The Identity Revolution is, inherently, a Christian revolution. The teachings of the New Testament give us the power to choose our identities. We can choose to identify with life, or we can choose an identity of death. God leaves this choice in our hands.

I cannot help but notice, though, that there is an identity that is freely available to all that most of us do not seem to be willing to accept. John writes that all who believe in Jesus have the right to “become” children of God. If you believe in Jesus, did you know that you have the authority to “be” God’s child?

In life, you will not escape your identity crisis because the word crisis means “choice,” and we all have a choice concerning the identity we will choose. Will we choose to see ourselves according to the flesh, by what is evident on the outside, or according to the Spirit, by what God has created on the inside? Will we choose to become life itself in the power of the Holy Spirit, or will we choose to remain clothed in bodies of death?

It is a mistake to judge ourselves by our appearance: how our bodies are shaped, what kinds of jobs we have, what kinds of clothes we wear or hairstyles we maintain. It is a mistake to find our identities in religion, in politics, or in sports. It is equally futile to change our gender, our ethnicity, or our species. None of these choices will satisfy our eternal longing to transcend what is natural in exchange for what is spiritual.

Have you considered changing what is most important about who you are? You can pass from being mortal and become what is immortal. By faith, you can accept that what people see as “living” on the outside is already dead. In fact, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you aren’t even here. You have already passed from death to life and are seated in Heaven at the right hand of God.

[If you would like to talk with someone about your identity click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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