The other night I went with our high school students to watch How to Train your Dragon 2. As I watched the movie, I was reminded just how significant the question of identity is to each of us.
In the movie, the main character Hiccup seeks to answer the question, who am I? He wonders if he could become the new village chief, even though he is nothing like the current chief–his father. He wonders where his spirit of curiosity, peace, and exploration comes from. In Hiccup’s mind, understanding who he is will determine what he should do.
For Hiccup, even though he is told to look within himself, the answers to his questions of identity come from outside himself. Through the encouragement and wisdom of his family, friends, and community, he discovers who he is.
The movie reminds us that we all desire to know who we are. That who we are will drive our actions. And that the answer to who am I? is actually found outside of ourselves.
This is the way God made us.
God made us to desire an answer to the question who am I? God made us so that our actions would be dependent on our identity. And God made us to search for our identity in things and people outside of ourselves.
God made us this way because it is his desire to give us our identity. And it is his desire that our actions be dependent (or motivated) by our God-given identity.
What is our God-given identity?
For those who have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ, God says to them:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9-12:)
Notice, first God reminds his people who they are:
(1) Chosen race, (2) a royal priesthood, (3) a holy nation, (4) God’s possession, (5) God’s people, (6) receivers of mercy
Then he encourages them to act in manner that flows from that identity…
(1) Abstain from passions of the flesh, (2) keep your conduct honorable, (3) do good deeds.
Of course, the verses in 1 Peter are just a small sample of our God-given identity. In his book, Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ, Neil Anderson provides us with a fuller picture of our identity in Christ. Take a moment and watch this video inspired by Anderson’s book:
Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, we no longer have to wonder who am I? We are free from this existential crisis. In Christ, we are given an identity that is bigger, stronger, and more worthwhile than anything we can find in our family, friends, or community. In Christ, we are given an identity that will last forever.
In Christ, we find an identity that guarantees our acceptance by God. In Christ, we find an identity that guarantees our security of self. And in Christ, we find an identity that guarantees our significance in the world.
Only in Christ do we discover who we were truly made to be. Only in Christ do we discover our true identity.