As I’ve counseled others and worked through my own struggles, a foundational truth has come to light. As believers, our identity is found in Christ, and that fact changes and shapes everything. Who we are in Christ defines our worth, our purpose, our ability, our love for others, our hope and joy in the midst of difficulties… and on and on. In so many of our struggles, part of the answer is to know, remember, and walk in the truth of who we are as children of God.
There are many ways that our identity in Christ functions in our lives. When we face hard things like fear, loneliness, discouragement, anxiety and depression, looking to who God says we are can be a source of great comfort. Our identity in Christ also illuminates our sinful habits and reminds us that we are weak and needy and lost apart from the Lord. Finally, our identity in Christ motivates and enables us to serve others and follow God. One important thing to note — our identity in Christ is absolutely dependent on who God says HE is. So as we think through these truths about ourselves, let us remember that our ultimate focus should be on the Lord and His steadfast character and faithfulness.
From time to time, I plan to return to this topic on the blog, breaking down the different truths about who we are in Christ and providing some Scripture passages for further study. For now, I’ll leave you with a story of how Jesus’ identity informed his actions.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples ‘feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
– John 13:1-12
Most of us know this story well, but one key element is often overlooked. Check out the bold sentence above, this statement that immediately precedes Jesus’ counterintuitive and countercultural actions. Jesus knew three immensely important facts about himself (and God):
- Jesus knew that God had given everything into his hands. This enabled him to give freely of himself, humbly stooping down to serve his disciples.
- Jesus knew that he had come from God, so his identity was secure and he didn’t seek affirmation from people.
- Jesus knew that he would be returning to God. This future hope motivated him to lay down his life.
In the same way, the things we believe about our identity fuel our thoughts, our actions, and the way we live. As you journey this week, I encourage you to start thinking about these things… What does God say about who you are as His child and a follower of Christ? Are you living out of that identity, letting it shape your thoughts and actions?
* Click here for further teaching on this story *