Monday, May 18, 2015
Who am I? Where am I? What am I? Am I supposed to be playing some sort of role? If so, where did I put that script? And who wrote the screenplay? When we’re not sure of these things we can find ourselves improvising things that are less than satisfying (and even self-destructive). The foundation and framework for a discussion on identity begins and ends with talking about who God is and who we are according to his word. Remembering that we are redeemed sinners who are loved by a holy God is a message that all pastor’s wives need to be regularly reminded of. Our identity at the most basic and fundamental level is that we are “in Christ.”
Lost and Then Found in Him
You’re probably familiar with the children’s game “Hide and Seek.” One of my sons loves this game, but he can’t stand the suspense of the hunt. He stands somewhere out in the open and calls out, “Here I am. Come get me!” Sometimes I lose my glasses on my face and fumble around in the bathroom looking for them. It may be comical to see a child “hide” in plain sight or watch someone rifle through toiletries like they can’t see while their glasses are on their face. But it’s less than humorous to watch a Christian forget that they are “in Christ” and live out of some warped identity. We wander around like poor, lost sheep, bleating that nobody loves us… all the while we are actually safe forever in the arms of our Chief Shepherd.
What do we mean when we say we need to “find our identity in Jesus?” Is our identity lost? It’s important to think about these commonly used terms to discover the underlying meanings of what we’re talking about. Living in a cross-cultural context has taught me time and again that you cannot assume you are communicating clearly even when speaking your own language. Further, even among fellow followers of Christ we have need for ongoing clarification.
What thoughts enter your mind when someone asks you, “Who are you?” Where I live, your nationality is the answer most people are looking for when they ask this question. Naturally, there is a host of connections and ideas that enter one’s mind when you hear a country’s name. For example, when one woman learned that I’m from the United States she said, “Ah… I know Americans. You are Baywatch!” What she saw on an internationally broadcast television show informed her view of my country and of me. This is an extreme (and extremely awkward) example, but I think we can all relate to this woman’s thought process when we think of identity. We automatically connect whatever we know of the whole to the individual and vice versa. The ending to that interaction is that I fumbled my way through an explanation of Peter’s introduction in his first letter “to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1). My citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20-21), so I am a Christian whose passport was issued by the United States government. I retain my cultural heritage, yet my primary identity is defined by God’s uniting me to Jesus through his death and resurrection.
What the Cross Says
So, what is your identity? By what or by whom do you define yourself? Are you the master of your own identity? Is your identity “lost in plain sight?” To call yourself a Christian is to embrace the cross of Jesus Christ and everything that says about who God is and who you are. You are “in Christ.” The fact that Jesus, the sinless Son of God, allowed himself to be crucified on a cross like a criminal says a lot of things.
Because of what Christ did for us on the cross, he has destroyed every obstacle that prevented us from enjoying him forever. Because of the cross we are no longer a slave, but a son and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal. 4:7). We are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). We are free in the most awe-filled, reverent, and joy-full sense of the word. We apprehend these things by faith, which is a gift, so none of us can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
Whenever we speak of our identity as a woman, a wife, or a pastor’s wife, let us have in our minds the primary reference point of being “found in him” (Phil. 3:9). Every hat we wear or role we play must be viewed through this perspective. Like the “lost” glasses that were always on your face, your identity is always found in him whether or not you are conscious of it. This is why we need to rehearse the gospel often, asking the Spirit to transform us and re-mind us of God’s truth (Rom. 12:2).
Excerpt taken from The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love by Gloria Furman (Crossway 2015). Used with permission from Crossway Books | www.crossway.org
Gloria lives in Dubai with her family and is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and The Pastor’s Wife. Follow her on Twitter @gloriafurman.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.