The Idol of Identity-America’s Anxious Pursuit of Self

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Finding oneself and “knowing who you are” is of utmost value in America.  We’re told the same message from infancy in animated movies, songs in adolescence and even prestigious institutions; “follow you heart”, “Love yourself”, “be you”, and “don’t ever change who you are.” You often hear of people having what is called an identity crisis, something I have even found myself saying I am in during different points of my life.

Being happy and secure in our own skin have become an acceptable value worth chasing in both non Christian and Christian circles. I’ve heard it in both secular classrooms and in youth groups.

To me, there seems to be some type of miss here. I don’t find this worldview in the pages of Scripture. The times in life that I’ve grappled with anxiety and fear regarding my view of myself, I find that I’m in a period that has me focusing inward instead of outward. I do everything I can do to feel better about where I’m at in life and who I am- rather than focusing on who Christ says I am, and the purpose for which I have been given my very existence.

So. Who exactly are we, according to the pages of Scripture?

It is infinitely true that every human being is uniquely special in the eyes of God. Psalm 139 beautifully lays out how distinctly God creates each one of us. David writes that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. What beautiful words! We are woven together in the depths of the earth-with our Father’s loving eyes carefully watching over every moment. All of the days ordained for us are planned out by our Creator before we are even born. We truly are precious in God’s eyes – so precious that His Son died to save us from our own depravity.

Along with being cherished and carefully crafted by our Creator, believers are also sinners from birth with no desire for Christ, yet specifically chosen by God to be His-cherished, and made to be on mission to make His name famous and to glorify Him with our lives. Everything we do, everything we seek after, everything we become must be filtered through the questions of; does this honor Christ, does it help others know Him more, and does it help me become more like Him?

Everything we do, everything we seek after, everything we become must be filtered through the questions of; does this honor Christ, does it help others know Him more, and does it help me become more like Him?

God’s purpose for each person looks different-we are all called to live out making His name famous in different ways. Within these ways, though, we are all called to be obedient.

Practically, our human roles and responsibilities are ever changing. We switch occupations, titles, we are single, married, we become parents, grandparents, we have certain friends-they move, life changes and we grow apart, people pass away who are near and dear to us, our bodies are slimmer or larger than we want and we have to work jobs we never expected just to get by. If we are seeking our identity-our value-in any of these things, we will live a life of fleeting happiness, confusion, anxiety, and absolute emptiness.

When these large and sometimes painful or confusing life changes happen, if our identity is anchored in the reality that everything is working out according to the counsel of God’s perfectly crafted will, and that as long as we are seeking Him and making decisions based upon our best understanding of His leading (determined by wise counsel, peace and above all, Scripture), then we can finally lay to rest the pressure of “discovering ourself.” For, we will understand that far greater than any fleeting need to know who want to be at any given moment of any given day, is the high calling of seeking God’s glory and will for our lives and running with everything within our being after that which we have been called.

Far greater than any fleeting need to know who want to be at any given moment of any given day, is the high calling of seeking God’s glory and will for our lives and running with everything within our being after that which we have been called.

As John Piper so beautifully articulates: “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.”

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