Identity is an important part of our modern society. In fact, it might just be the single most-discussed topic of the day. Identity is the driving force behind movements, political divides, and even religious bigotry. So, who am I and why does it matter?
Let me start by trying to answer the question above – who am I? Secular reasoning wants us to believe our identity should be seen as an ongoing process. Rather than a static snapshot, we should embrace a flowing sense of self, whereby we are perpetually reframing, reorganizing, rethinking, and reconsidering ourselves.1 That fluid, theoretical view (and meaning) gives room for interpretation in every single choice, every single idea, and every single facet of life. However, it fails to give genuine, inherent, tangible meaning to just about anything and creates a world where I’m free to be whatever I choose to be despite the ethical, moral, biological, or theological implications.
I’m sure that the Word of God describes it must more concretely. Instead of a constant evolution of self-identity, God paints a different picture when He inspires the Apostle Paul to say, “by the grace of God I am what I am,” in First Corinthians 15:10.
In that passage, the Apostle doesn’t excuse his sin, or overinflate his worth. He simply honors God’s redemptive work.
The Apostle Paul knew, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” (1 Timothy 1:15) and was unwilling to hide from his previous self. He boldly declared “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day,” in Acts 23:1, yet was confident enough to also say, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” in Romans 7:24-25.
He knew who he was, a sinner saved by God’s grace. So am I. That identity supersedes every other identity I possess.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to explore several different identities that Christians can be fairly and unfairly labeled. From hypocrites to saints, Pharisees to fundamentalists, I’ll explore them one-at-a-time and answer the question, “Who am I?” Maybe I am a hypocrite and a fundamentalist, maybe I’m not. Hopefully, at the end of this series, we’ll find some common ground and you’ll see what I see – who I am is much more complicated that a simple term or idea. It just might be the most important question I ever ask myself.
1 Follow this link to read more from Psychology Today.