Who are you? How would you answer this question?
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the stories of nine different characters in the Bible, who each tried to build their identities in all the wrong places, and then discovered the kind of wholeness that only God can give. And in considering their lives, we’ll discover the identity traps we fall into, and the identity Christ offers us that changes everything.
In this sermon, we explore a biblical and theological framework for understanding our identity and mapping our own hearts.
Identity is, at its core, a sense of self. It distinguishes us from the people around us. It gives clarity to our place in this world. And it turns out that a sense of self is meaningful when it meets three, deep-seated, underlying needs:
Now, this is where theology comes in, because the Bible tells us that we were created in the image and likeness of God. We were created to know God as our Father, and to know ourselves as His sons and daughters. In other words, we were made to find our identity as children of God.
And as children of God, we were made:
- To find our significance in His esteem.
- To find our security in His care.
- To find our satisfaction in His pleasure.
That’s the identity we were made for: to live as a child beloved by the Father.
But, we are sinners by nature and by choice; our sins have separated us from God.
So instead of children… we find ourselves orphans. We wake up in the universe estranged from the God were meant to call “Father.” We wake up as orphans. Our orphan hearts start trying to find identity elsewhere.
Consequently, there are three primary strategies we employ to get our identity needs met apart from God. We look to find our identity through:
Our Orphan hearts try to build an identity seeking Significance, Security, and Satisfaction from the creation instead of the Creator! To use the language of Romans 1: we’ve exchanged the glory of the immortal God for created things. In essence, that’s what idolatry is. Whenever we look to anything other than God for our ultimate significance, security, and satisfaction.
Whatever that is becomes our functional god, and we serve and sacrifice and offer up whatever it takes to get our deep identity needs met. It’s idolatry.
The lie of Satan is that we’re better off fending for ourselves, getting our deep identity needs for significance, security, and satisfaction met through people, power, or possessions. Anywhere other than our Heavenly Father.
And so we go out into the world trying to get our deep identity needs met. We pursue people, not so much to love them, but so that we can get our needs met. We acquire power, not so much to serve others, but so that we can secure ourselves. We amass possessions, not so much to share generously, but so we can enjoy ourselves.
The whole of our identity starts caving inward when we live as orphans. We go into the world needy, consuming, taking. It’s less about what we can give, and it’s more about what we can get. Because as an orphan, I’ve got to find my own identity; I’ve got to get my own significance, my own security, and my own satisfaction.
Because we are estranged from God through sin, by default we learn to build our identity and cope through life as orphans.
And so most of us, one of these three deep identity needs becomes dominant. We all need significance, security, and satisfaction, but one tends to loom large in our hearts. And then we tend to learn toward People, Power, or Possessions as our primary strategy to get that identity need met.
But then, in the mercy and grace of God, He sent us Jesus to take all our broken, sinful identities upon himself, to give us his own righteous identity instead, and to fill us with the Holy Spirit.
Do you realize what this means? By the mercy of the Father, in the grace of Jesus, and by power of the Spirit, you can begin to live as Children once more!
Which means we can live from the deep resources of our Good Father as His beloved children:
- He gives us the Significance of his honor.
- He gives us the Security of his love.
- He gives us the Satisfaction of his joy.
And having received His nourishment for our deep identity needs, we move out into the world in strength. We can approach people in love. We can use power to serve. We can hold possessions with generosity.
Every day this choice is before us: Who am I?
Am I an orphan that has to fend for himself, using people, power, and possessions to meet my deep identity needs?
Or am I a child of God? By grace through faith resting in the deep Significance, utter Security, and profound Satisfaction that are mine in Christ… such that I’m filled up to pour myself out for the sake of others!
How do we do this? We get close to our Father, so we remember who He is, so we remember who we are, so we can remember to act like ourselves.
Living the Message episode: https://youtu.be/UwUNqFQWrH4
Questions about this sermon can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org