Living authentically: true identity
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Read time: 4.4 minutes
The New Year is a time for new beginnings. But those new beginnings will come to naught if we're not going in the right direction. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”
So commencing this week and continuing throughout the month of January, I want to help set you in the right direction for your new beginnings. That way, not only will you be going in the right direction, but you'll have a very sturdy railway car to travel in. The weekly topics we'll cover are: living authentically, getting your mind right, and pursuing your calling.
In this post, we'll take a look at living authentically in your true identity.
"God does not play dice.” – Albert Einstein
In our previous post, we looked at what it means to live authentically in an inauthentic age: we must begin with a proper framework.
In this post we’ll cut to the heart of the matter: what is our true identity as human beings?
Some would say that we are no more than a different version of an ape. Others, who in their minds envision a better future, believe that humans melded with technology (Human 2.0) will become better humans. Still others believe that humans are supreme of themselves and capitalism alienates human beings from each other.
Given just these three disparate theories, what (or who) exactly are we as human beings? And by extension, what is our true identity?
Do we see ourselves as mere products of natural selection, as incomplete humans limited by our biology, or as the Ubermensch (Highest Man) once the class or race struggle is won?
I would argue that in all three of these examples, an important reality is missing: the spiritual reality or, more specifically, God, as understood in the Scriptures.
Let’s look at who we are as reflected in these categories: creation, separation, redemption, new life in Christ.
Who am I by creation?
Through the Scriptures we learn that God created us, knows each and every hair on our heads, and He created each of us uniquely, individually.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14
We were created in the very image of God.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
God loves us each, more than any of us can imagine, and He wants a relationship with us. We are nothing without God; in Him we have our identity.
Who am I by separation?
But that relationship that originally began with Adam and Eve was destroyed by sin.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:12
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Who am I through redemption?
God re-established that relationship through Christ’s death and resurrection. Now we have a way back; we have been made whole through Christ. We now know who(se) we are.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
Who am I in Christ?
In our redeemed life in Christ, we are a new creation.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
We are God’s “workmanship”. Some Bible versions translate this word as “masterpiece”. However, the real meaning of the original Greek is “poem.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Our true identity: who I am in Christ
We bear God’s image and our true identity is in relationship with Him. That relationship was broken by sin and restored by Christ’s death and resurrection so that now we are a new creation.
I think that Christian apologist and writer C.S. Lewis best captured the profundity of these truths when he said:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory