If someone asks who you are, what is your reply? Usually, the simplest way to convey our identity is through our name, so we just say ‘My name is Clark, who are you?’ Often tied to our name, especially our surname, is our family identity. Especially when we are younger, not only are we often seen with our parents, but when we are often identified with them as well, ‘Oh that is Kevin Arnold’s son, Steve.’ In some Scandinavian traditions, they even took the name of their father, e.g. Leif Erikson was the son of Erik Thorvaldsson. Though we can legally change our names when we are old enough, we really have no say when it comes to what family we are born into, good or bad. There are likely times we are proud of our parents and immediate family, and other times we would not like to be associated with them. So, how do you identify, and what comes to mind when someone asks ‘who are you?’
For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. Matthew 12:50
Closely tied to who we are is the question, ‘what do you do?’ When someone asks me this, I often reply with what I am currently doing, ‘Oh, I often travel around and also attend 2 year old birthday parties.’ Most of us reply with where we currently or formerly worked. Especially for men, much of our identity is tied into what we do. We are often driven to do things and our work provides us an outlet for that. Our identity is also closely tied to our roles with others in our lives, as a son, a husband, a brother, a father or grandfather. Who or what in your life gives you the greatest sense of your identity?
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13
How much of who you are comes from your identity as a Christian? When you became a believer, you were adopted into a new family, with a whole new set of rights and responsibilities, many of which we did not fully realize when we ‘signed up’. When God grants us rights as His heirs, through Christ, it is not something we have earned by our works, but something given to us through grace. Many of us may not see ourselves as adopted children, but when we come to faith in Christ, that is what we are, part of a large and diverse family with the same Father. This has become more significant to me recently, because in the coming weeks, we are planning to adopt two young boys who have been living with us for the past 2.5 years. For better or worse, they will now be part of a new family, and will be given new names.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
So, whether your identity comes from your family, your work, your community, your faith, or maybe a little of each, continue to examine how that influences your sense of self and how you view others. One of most humbling and exciting things I realized when I became a believer, was that Jesus leveled the playing field for those that enter into His family. Regardless of your family of origin, your background, and all the good or bad things you have done, He gives the opportunity for anyone to have a new life with Him. When we do this, we still do not have all our questions answered or fully know how our lives will go, but we have faith that our new Father will be for us as we surrender our lives and our identity to Him, and we are given a new name.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
Yours in Christ,