Identity Crisis

There is a story in the bible about a rich man who approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do to attain eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, and when the man tells him he has kept them all, Jesus gives him one more task:

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21)

The man goes away sadly because he has great wealth, and cannot bear to part with it.

Jesus asks the man to give away more than just security and possessions. He asks him to part with something that for most of the man's life has defined him. It has defined what he does, who he associates with, how he sees his future. His wealth is a huge part of who he is, and though Jesus offers him a life lived for others, a life with the promise of eternal life, he cannot give it up.

When meditating on what this story means for Christians today, and for myself in a world where material possessions may not be the only things holding my heart captive, I think of how we identify and define ourselves.

There is a lot of pressure in our world today to define yourself. On social media, it's important to fill-in your bio, use similar filters on your photos, and make posts that reflect who you are and what you do. What political party you belong to. What bands you like. What denomination of Christianity you subscribe to. In daily life, careers are very important to defining who you are. Your career reflects your passions, skills, and even your desires for the future. Your wealth allows you to define yourself through what kind of clothes you wear, the places you live, and even the type of people you associate with.

What if Christ asked us to give up those things? To let go of what we believe is integral to our being and trust Him to decide who we are and what our purpose is?

I think there is a lot of fear when people face this question. I know I fear the answer. But I believe there is an immense freedom in realizing that your worth and your purpose are being created every day by the God who made the universe. The God whose first commandments are to love Him and to love others unconditionally. He has a plan for your life. His plan is not always going to be a dramatic career change. His plan isn't always going to mean you pack up and leave to seek those in need of the gospel.

But the most important thing God is asking of us all is to allow Him to define us. When we find our identity in Christ, we realize that our purpose is something much greater than we could ever imagine. Suddenly, wherever we find ourselves, we are called to love the people around us with a love so surprising that they get a glimpse of the joy we find in Christ our savior. When we find our identity in Christ, suddenly our jobs are not trapping us in a life of purposeless labor. Rather, we can use the opportunity to share the gospel with others, and to learn humility. Our wealth no longer defines who we are, and we can share it with those in need, and be free of the burden of needing it to complete some part of our life. Our social media pages become less about telling the world who we are, and we may find more joy in connecting with others and hearing about their lives.

Isaiah 43:7 says "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, and you are mine."

God is only asking us to let go of the worldly things we hold on to. The things we believe we need because we are afraid of trusting in Him. But he tells us we are redeemed, and He calls us by name, and whatever is His is good.

It is comforting and freeing to know that God is defining my life and giving me purpose. No matter how many likes this post gets, no matter how many friends I have or how many failed job applications I turn in. He is all I need. He is where I find my identity.

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Matthew 19:26)

I believe this with all my heart, friends. And God reveals Himself to me every day, even in the toughest times. Your identity is secure in Christ.


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