When it comes to our identity, we define it as who we say that we are. The world defines it by what one does for a living, political stance, sexual preference and how one express themself inwardly/or outwardly. In today’s culture, we want to be respected, valued, honored, admired and ultimately, loved unconditionally. People are busy pursuing any and all means to make a huge impression on others because people crave the need to be noticed. Apart from the fact that we live in a fallen world that had sin enter its domain, I would also argue from an Early Childhood perspective, that past sins continue in cycles and are passed down from generation to generation. In my career, I saw this first hand, parents faced struggles in parenting because there was a root of having a broken childhood, abuse, neglect, no positive role model, a dysfunctional family and most sadly, no relationship with God. In adulthood, people venture in one’s endless effort to pursue and impress, but are left feeling empty inside. People look to the newness of “that product” or “that gadget”, just fill in the blank, but eventually, it is all disappointing to some degree. From a secular perspective, identity is open to interpretation.
So who does God say that I am? God says that I am His child. In I John 3:12, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” This is a very immense title and to sum it up in one paragraph is not possible, but consider this for a moment…despite who your parents were, despite your parents’ past, when you accept Jesus, you become a child of God. What does that look like? Well, for Christians, we reflect on who God is and others will either like or dislike us because we are now children of God. If we claim to be a Christian, then we are claiming that we are pursuing Holiness. Jesus was our role model and although He tells us to be “perfect”, I believe that this has been misunderstood by Christians. Although we are forgiven and redeemed, we still struggle with sin, we are far from perfect and also do not claim to be so to anyone, but can still receive a label of trying to be “holier than thou.” It is more of a command to honor God, that we should imitate who He is in character. We are to worship Him with our thoughts (watching what we think about Hime and others), worship Him with our speech (watching what we say about Him and others) and worship Him with our bodies (keeping ourselves from anything that God deems to be sinful to the body.
God desires to be the owner and Lord of our heart. One day, God will transform our bodies that are marred by sinful nature, into a perfected body, like that of Jesus. It is then, that we will be perfect. ” But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” Phillipians 3:20-21. So many today have disfigured their bodies with plastic surgery or have obsessed with keeping their bodies tight and perfect. God has made each of us a certain way. Even the secular world promotes “acceptance”, but it is such a lie. The world actually pushes for perfection in an imperfect world. Many agents for Hollywood or modeling will tell all models that despite their gorgeous bodies, they could still afford to lose some “cellulite” or ten pounds. With God, He loves you the way you were created. He wishes for all to realize that it is only His opinion that matters about you, in the end. One day, we will have perfect bodies, but until then, God simply wants us to focus on our relationship with Him.
Our culture today is craving to be embraced, accepted and chosen. As Christians, if we are not reading the Bible to see who God says we are and what He thinks of us, we can get caught up in the world and how it defines what you and I should be looking for. Isn’t it funny though, that even non-believers are looking for perfection? It is just evidence of a previous perfection that once existed when Adam and Eve were created (before they fell into sin). There was a perfected state that humanity did have at one brief moment, but was quickly lost. The secular world might not choose you, but God says that He has chosen us in Ephesians 1:4-5, “ Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. “
We are God’s Masterpiece from all of His creation because He made us in His image. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” We are not “chance” or a random occurrence that came from nothing. We were created by a Master creator, with purpose, beauty and complexity. Don’t you find it ironic that Science studies nature, space and humanity? Science studies what it can observe and yet, it has failed to create anything that outmatches what God has created (everything observable in this world). Many secular teachings are telling students that “you are nothing, you have no purpose and are insignificant”, but listen to what God says, “26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” This word in Hebrew speaks of the resemblance of God. Unlike animals, humanity possesses language and intelligence that is on a higher level than that of animals. Around the world, humans speak thousands of languages and are able to form complex forms of thought processes, whereas animals do not (on an equal level).
God also says that we are His friend. When you are someone’s friend, you are welcome, loved and accepted. There is a mutual relationship that reciprocates and shows a union. Some often think that God is a tyrant and is out to get them, but once a person submits to Him in genuine repentance, there is a deep friendship that is formed. John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” The best way to get to know someone is by spending time with that person. When we spend time with God, reading the Bible, praying to Him, we form that deeper friendship and relationship with Him, which is exactly what He desires to have with us, fellowship.
“Christians are just…different.”
Just like this albino peacock, we are made new and will stand out. It will be obvious to the non-Christian that one is “different.” This difference I speak of is not in appearance, per say, but in thought and action. Non-Christians will view it as abnormal and weird. Christians speak a strange dialect or “Christianese.” Christians smile all the time. Christians always go on and on about God and the Bible, but when people of other religions do, it is not as irritating to have to listen to it, as it is with Christians. Different is hard to accept sometimes, but what does God say? Well, although we are changed within our inner being to be acceptable before God, we will also become very much “alien” to this world. With that in mind, we have to remember that we now belong to God. Ephesians 2:19 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” We transform from being aliens to God and being His children, then become aliens to this world. By “alien” do not misunderstand me, I do NOT mean a literal alien creature, but “foreign.” It will not be evident from our outer looks, but by our behavior. Non-Christians cannot understand why Christians act a certain way, talk a certain way and think a certain way. It is because God changes a person from the inside – out. When we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells in our human body I Corinthians 3:16 reads, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” This is why we are told to honor God with our bodies. It is because the Holy Spirit dwells within us and by sinning, we sin against our body and the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, we feel it when we “grieve the Holy Spirit” and feel conviction for it. This is good, it’s a healthy sign, but if you can sin and feel no guilt, it is time to question your actual conversion and relationship with God.
God tells us that He loves us, exceedingly. Many people have read one of the most famous verses, John 3:16. They fail to see the tiny words that add extra emphasis because they read too quickly, but when we examine it, we can see how deep His love truly is for humanity. It reads, ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved …”. That “so loved” matters, it’s stating that it was not mediocre love, it was intense, deep and passionate. If you don’t know God and His love, please know that there is no deeper love than His. His Son’s sacrifice is evident of that love, for no one would sacrifice their only child for some that love and for many that never would. But God did. Romans 5:8, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I can think of no greater comparison of God’s love for us, than that which a parent has for their own child. It is no accident that we were created to reproduce, for this reason. For all the readers that are not parents yet, you will not understand until you are. For the readers that are parents, this is coming from my own experience as a Mother, but also from a professional experience in Early Childhood. When parents that have been anticipating the birth of their child, finally get to see their child, that love is born. That parent would willingly and unconditionally give their own life for their beloved child. It is the same with God.
So know that because you were created in God’s own image, you are so valuable and loved! His love runs deep and it is in return that we are to be His Ambassadors. As an Ambassador, we represent the King, we speak on His behalf. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This is the part that confuses and irritates non-believers. We proclaim it to everyone because we have become new in Christ, heirs, children of God, forgiven, redeemed, loved, saved, given eternal life when this one passes, transformed, adopted and chosen. May our love for the Lord reflect so to others, not only because we love Him, but because He first loved us.