Whenever a big change happens in my life, I go through a bit of an identity crisis - have you ever experienced that? When I became a teenager, I tried to change my personality from being a loud-mouth chatterbox to a demure, quiet girl who I thought everyone would like more- it didn't work and only made me sad. When I got married I completely freaked out and questioned whether I was still the same me inside. I've moved country 4 times and each time questioned - where is home? When I gave up my chosen career to become a full time mother I wondered - who am I without the security of a job description? My most recent crisis has been - now my kids are in school, what is the main purpose of my life? Do I really matter?
It's like each change in circumstance causes some sort of metamorphosis - a remoulding of 'me' till I finally settle down into my new shape. To be honest - it's exhausting!
While writing Looking for Love, God led me to deal with this once and for all. No more identity crisis's - it was time to become secure in my true identity. I believe God wants us all to know who we are deep down at our core, the part that never changes, so we can carefully navigate the rest of life's changes while also living the victorious Christian life He has called us to.
I am certain that I am not completely there yet - not even close - but I also sense that if I begin to share and live out what God has shown me so far, then by doing so, God will show me more. So here we go!
The Identity Of Jesus
As a disciple of Christ, Jesus is both my saviour and my role model. So did Jesus ever go through an identity crisis? I don't think so. Why not? I believe the answer to this question is the key to discovering our own identity in Christ.
The Bible says that Jesus has never changed - He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and yet his outward appearance went through more changes than we will ever experience. He went from being the morning star (Rev 22:16), the glory of heaven, to a human baby of poor parents (Phil 2:7-8). He went through puberty and emerged as an adult (Luke 2:41-52). Then he changed from being alive to being dead to being alive again! (Romans 8:34) After that His body could do all kinds of things it couldn't do before like walk through locked doors (John 20:19) and ascend into the sky (Acts 1:9). So many transitions, so many outward changes but His core identity never changed and He never forgot it, never had an identity crisis, never caved to external pressure to be someone He wasn't. How did He do that and is it possible to learn to do the same?
In this blog I'm going to look at the first of four voices that can influence our identity and see how Jesus responded to each of these influences when He walked the earth.
1. The Voice of the father of lies
One invisible being who tries to influence our identity is known as the father of lies (John 8:44). We may never meet or hear the devil personally, but the earth is full of evil spirits/demons who do his dirty work for him and they constantly try to influence our thoughts and our identity. But Jesus encountered them daily and did not allow them even a 'foothold' in His life which means so can we.
In Jesus's first few months of public preaching and healing, before anyone knew who He really was, He met a demon who shouted "I know who you are!" The demon cried out through the man it inhabited that Jesus was "The Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:24). Immediately Jesus told it to "Be quiet and come out of the man."
I sometimes find it confusing that Jesus tells the demon to shut up. Didn't Jesus want people to know who He was? But then if I was new in town, would I really want to be introduced to everyone by a demon? Jesus had enough trouble convincing people that He was not from the devil (Mark 3:22) without a bunch of 'groupie' demons introducing Him to everyone. Jesus also didn't want a demon in charge of the time table for when His true identity would be revealed. Jesus knew how the demons and principalities work and refused to give them even an inch of influence over his ministry and life.
The father of lies loves to try to tell us who we are. He tries to whisper in our minds things like "You're a failure." or "You're annoying/useless/unlovable/pathetic/unforgivable/too much/not enough/..." (don't fill in the blank!). The odd thing is, what the demon said about Jesus was true - Jesus was the Holy One of God. Sometimes, a lie starts with something that is true; perhaps a personality trait or a one-off occurrence that happened a long time ago but if we listen to it, if we give it even an inch of influence in our lives, the father of lies will twist any and every truth to suit his own purpose. He uses those evil words to label our identity till we believe that is who we are and can't ever change. Jesus would have none of it and neither should we.
I've already mentioned how as an adolescent I thought people would like me more if I changed my personality. The truth was that I was a chatterbox, I had a lot to say and I liked to say it LOUD - I still do. But now I believe that if I submit/offer my loud mouth to God, in His hands it can be used to teach His word, spread the gospel and encourage believers in their faith. What an awesome gift! But at 13 I didn't know it was a gift and there was another voice I listened to, the voice that changed a statement of fact into a judgement against my God-given identity and said that because of my loud mouth no-one liked me and that I needed to pretend to be someone I wasn't. It took a long time, and the committed mentoring of a faithful youth leader to draw my true self out again and show me I was beautiful. This was something I had to address again in my adult life, with prayer from a team at church, to truly be free of this lie - the lie that said my God-given personality needed to change in order to be loved and accepted.
When we hear those lies in our minds, instead of listening to them and believing them, we can do what Jesus did and immediately tell them to shut up and go away in the name of Jesus.
- James 4:7 - 'Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.'
- Luke 10:17-19 'Even the demons are subject to us in your name'
Then fight back with God's word's, speaking scriptures that declare your identity like:
- John 1:12- as a believer in Christ I have the right to call myself a child of God,
- Ephesians 2:4-10 God has given me a new life in Christ. God loves me very much. I am His creation, a Masterpiece.
- (More of this in part 3)
Our identity is not formed by our failures and mistakes. Our identity is not in the hands of the father of lies. It is not formed from the twisting and distortions of the truth. In the hands of God, every personality trait can be submitted to Him and used for His kingdom. He chose us and knew us and designed us in our mother's womb for a good purpose (Psalm 139:13-16, Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11)
- Think about some of the lies you have listened to and even believed that are not found in God's word and so have not come from Him.
- Do your remember where or when they came from? Offer these thoughts to God in prayer and ask Him to help you discover His truth about who you really are instead. Be open to this taking a while; for me there have been flash moments of clarity and revelation but living it out and allowing those moments of revelation to go deep into my soul is a process that takes a little time.
- If you need to, ask for help from someone you trust, like a mature Christian woman or the pastoral team at church who can pray for you and with you.
Then keep reading....
Part 2: The praise and the criticism of other people (to be published, subscribe below to get it automatically)