Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
My Career… My Identity
Growing up, I was always going to be an educator. When my sisters and I played school, I often took on the role of teacher. My summer jobs involved working with kids at summer camps, and my college course load was full of lesson planning, teaching hours, and education courses. For the first twelve years of my adult life, I was an educator. That was my identity. I taught in several positions at a variety of schools, and I loved it. That is, until I didn’t.
Through a series of difficult situations, I eventually found that I had lost my love of the profession for which I had spent most of my life preparing. The challenges that once motivated and inspired me became problems that caused me insomnia and panic attacks. I had to make a change before I caused irreparable damage to myself and to those relationships most important to me.
Who Am I?
When God provided me with an opportunity to switch careers, I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. The decision wasn’t just about the salary, job description, or benefits. To me, it was more than just a change in position. It meant a transformation in my identity.
I often find myself defining my identity by the worldly aspects of my life, including my career. The problem with this is that these things inevitably change.
How do you define who you are? Maybe, like me, your identity is linked to your career. Perhaps it’s defined by the roles you play in your family – wife, father, son, grandma. Sadly, we also establish our identities from how others view us. You may define yourself by your physical attributes in comparison to others. People may have told you what to believe about yourself so many times that you’ve become reliant on their comments to understand who you are.
All of this can so easily lay claim to our definition of identity. But none of these identities tell the whole story of you. Or worse yet, they tell the wrong story altogether. The only place we can find our true identity is in Christ.
Identity in Christ
In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes to a group of new believers in Ephesus to help them understand who they are in Christ. We too can find our identities – our true identities – in these God-breathed, life-changing words:
We are Children of God
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5). Even before we were born, God claimed us as his children through Jesus. We aren’t just friends with God or one of the kids in the neighborhood; he has adopted us to be a part of his family. And because of that, we inherit eternal life in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.
We are Forgiven
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). God knows we aren’t perfect, but Jesus was perfect for us. Jesus paid for our sins, so we can identify ourselves as redeemed children of God. We are forgiven for all those times we messed up, said the wrong thing, or didn’t act when we should have.
We are Loved
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5). God’s love for us is unconditional. He loves us so much that he gave his Son for us. No one and nothing is going to stop Him from loving us.
We are Enough
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our salvation doesn’t depend on us. Our salvation depends on Christ. Because of that, we don’t have to obsess over our mistakes or worry if we’re doing enough good things. We can rest secure in God’s promise that we’re saved by grace through faith.
These four phrases are just a sampling of what God says about us in his Word. But they give us a pretty good sense of who we are to God. We are His children. Each of us are forgiven and loved. We are enough.
When we start basing our identity on who Christ says we are rather than temporal attributes or others’ opinions, we become a whole lot more secure in who we are. We find that we are no longer subject to changes in profession, status, or others’ opinions; we find ourselves held tightly in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
So, remember your true identity. Be transformed by the security you find in God’s view of you. Encourage one another by reminding each other of our identity in Christ. He doesn’t look at us based on our jobs, abilities, or titles. He sees each of us as perfect because of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are His children, and that is the identity to which we can hold firm.