'Do you know who I am?!'

There’s plenty of amusing stories of celebrities saying (or shouting) these words when they can’t get their own way. But the phrase does actually expose something that’s common to us all: our obsession with identity. Do I know who I am?

Some people define themselves by their ethnicity, sexuality, political agenda or body size. But when we make our identity about how we look or how much money we have or our intellectual capabilities or what we’ve achieved, we can’t help but compare how we measure up to others. From this can stem labels—‘Failure’, ‘Not good enough’, ‘Fat’, ‘Stupid’—each of which start to define our identity, like putting on layers of ugly clothes. When we look in the mirror, we’re left staring at a version of ourselves that may bear no real resemblance to who we really are. Our desperation to be loved and accepted can lead to objectification, disappointment and unfulfillment as we try to please others, only to find it’s never enough.

This is not who God created us to be. The Christian message declares that we aren’t the sum total of our likes and dislikes, our successes and failures. In fact, our identity’s not rooted in us at all. It’s entirely dependent on and rooted in God.

'Our identity is dependent on who God is to us.'

God is our Creator and He’s made each one of us in His image. From the very beginning, we’ve been made to know and love Him. But He doesn’t stand aloof from us; He’s shown Himself to be our Protector, our Provider, our Father, our Redeemer. Our identity is dependent on who God is to us. All of these attributes and more show His concern and care for us, demonstrated perfectly in His sending of Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross.

But Jesus not only showed us who God is; He showed us who He says we are. As John Piper wrote, ‘I get my identity not first from my actions, but from being acted upon.’ It was in God seeing our fallen and broken state and showering His mercy and grace on us in Jesus’ death and resurrection that we’re given a new identity. When we choose to trust in Christ, we’re transformed; we die to ourselves and the labels we wear—whether others have labelled us or we’ve labelled ourselves—and we live as God’s children, with Christ dwelling in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. This transformation can never be undone; our identity in Him is unchanging because He is unchanging. We have the sure and certain hope that even when we make mistakes, His grace is still available (1 John 1:9).

The Cycle of Grace

How does this affect how we live? Rather than being caught up in the cycle of grief, seeking acceptance and basing our identity in our achievements, we live within the cycle of grace: finding our identity in acceptance, knowing we’re accepted and loved by God, living and relating to others from this starting place. We don’t need to earn acceptance anymore; we’re safe and secure in Jesus’ hands (John 10:28-30). We can’t be separated from Him as long as we keep rooting ourselves in Him and choosing to follow Him.

So do you know who I am? I am the dearly loved, cherished, chosen child of God, created in His image, known and loved before I was even born. I am the child of the King, forgiven, washed clean, with an eternal hope that can never be taken away from me. In Christ, this is who I am. In Christ, this is who you are.

Transformed Identity

We’re delighted that our partners Andy and Andrea Baker are visiting us in September.  They have spent over 15 years working with women and children affected by prostitution in El Alto, Bolivia, seeing God’s love and hope transform their understanding of their identity.