If something positive has come from this crazy year, then it may be our struggle with self-identity. The question, “Who am I when my ambitions, accomplishments, health, and possessions get sidelined?” has stared us all right in the face. For instance, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time struggling to get noticed for our strengths while covering up flaws. Mental and physical energy is given over to keeping it all together so that others will give us approval for how well we manage life. We attempt to be identified by how good we are. And if we keep it together well enough for others, then God will surely give us his stamp of approval, right? 2020 has become the year, however, when it is clear that we all deal not only with the disease Covid-19, but also we also deal with another pandemic called sin. Sin prevents us from getting it all together. Our lives cannot be defined adequately anymore by how good enough we are.
Yet, the Bible points us to the grace of God. The gospel of Christ is the vaccine for sin and ultimate death. The gospel is the vaccine for your identity struggles, as well. You could be the poster child for overachievers, but in Christ, salvation is still by grace through faith, not of our works. Since we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, could it be that our identity is found in recognizing that we are valued children of God? The Bible says that we are all created in God’s image, meaning that God loves each and every one of us enough to die for us and thus invite us to be a citizen of his kingdom by grace through faith.
Friends, as believers, let’s therefore become less and less dependent on the external. In other words, our identity is found in the fact that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and was raised from the dead! Our identity is not found in what others think of us or in what we have. We can never really be good enough to earn salvation. Fortunately, God loves us more than we could possibly imagine even though we’re not good enough.
A theologian and pastor named Henri Nouwen coined the term “downward mobility” to describe the Christian life. While many struggle for upward mobility in order to find some semblance of an identity, the Christian does not have to be worried about such things. The believer follows Christ by taking up a cross daily and following Him, meaning that all that we do is focused outward on loving God and loving neighbors, not because we’re good enough, but because Christ is.
If you need to know how valuable and loved you are, then look to the cross.