So ... what shapes your identity?
I remember as a teenager my dad would let me have the family car to go to a game or on a date. He would flip me the keys to our Pontiac Catalina, along with a buck for gas, and then give me the same exhortation: Remember who you are!
My dad was well-known in our town as a pastor, a man of God, with great integrity and a generous heart. Our name - Hegg - had a good reputation attached to it as a result. Dad's pointed command to me, to remember who I was, was his way of saying don't tarnish our identity.
So here's the question: what defines your identity? It is not overstating the case to say we all have something at our core we want to identify us. It's how we see ourselves, and how we want other to see us. It's what we're most passionate about, and what ultimately gives our lives purpose and meaning. It's what we fight for, live for, and seek to promote. It becomes our identity.
Some see their identity wrapped up in a political party, a sports team, their gender, or their sexual preference. Some see their position as their identity, such a being a teacher, or mother, or salesman. Some see their lives made up of their fashion choices, their hobby, or their wealth. There are lots of ways we come to shape our identity.
The problem is each of these is temporary. None of them will last. Athletes who identify with their ability grow old and retire. Parents watch their children grow up, marry, and move away. Careers end, youth fades, dreams die, and we end up looking in the mirror of life and wondering who we really are.
For the Christ-follower, there can be only one satisfying identity. It is simply that we are no longer who we once were but now are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We've been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God the Son. We've been redeemed from our corrupt way of life to walk worthy of the gospel. We've been given the privilege to partner with Jesus Christ in the greatest rescue mission ever! That's who we are!
In 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 12 Paul puts it this way: For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Did you catch that? God himself calls us into his kingdom, and into his glory.
Imagine opening your mail and getting invited to the White House for a state dinner. Or getting that phone call inviting you to sit in the owner's box at the Super Bowl. Or receiving that letter informing you you'd been accepted into the Ph.D program at Harvard. Or, for some of you, hearing your book proposal had been accepted by Revell, or your song accepted by Capital Records. Whatever your dream, imagine it came true, and you were now "in."
The reality is God has invited every Christ-follower "into" his kingdom, into his family, into his glory. What does that mean? Simply that our identity is now found completely in his mission, his grace, his power, and his love.
Yes, that means his love and truth will flow out through all the avenues of our lives, including our position, our hobbies, our passions, our sexuality, and every other area of life. But none of these will ever be our core, our identity. That belongs to Jesus Christ who is using biblical truth and the circumstances of life to shape us more and more to reflect his grace and glory.
So, as you go through your days ... remember who you are, and stay focused on the fact this life is merely a prelude to the next. Live now in light of eternity, never fastening your hope on the uncertainties of this life, but fixing your hope fully on the grace to be brought to you when our Lord returns. We belong to him, and that's who we are!