Recently my wife and I had our bank accounts hacked into by someone pretending to be me. Obviously the situation was scary, frustrating, and upsetting. Why? Because my identity, my wife's identity, and your identity are unique to who we are. When someone steals your identity, they are stealing something that is unique to you and you alone because your identity is the makeup of who you are. For Christians, our identity is no longer in who we are but in who Christ is (John 1:12). Because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, we place our faith in Him and are called "the children of God." This means that we are all that God says we are. What a wonderful reality!
However, we are constantly in an identity crisis. Like a thief trying to steal another's identity, we can try to find our identity in someone other than Christ. How can you know if you are in an identity crisis? Here are three warning signs:
1. You Determine your value and worth on someone else's thoughts and actions.
One of the sure fire ways to find out if you are in an identity crisis is when you begin determine your worth by looking to what someone else thinks or says about you. This is subtle. We don't wake up in the morning and think, 'I wonder what so-and-so thinks about me today.' Instead, we live in such a way that we are fearful of upsetting others because we want them to carry an honorable opinion of us. When we sin, instead of pursuing a person to confess and find help, you hide your sin because you are afraid of them having a low view of you. Are you finding your worth in what other's think about you?
For Christians, our identity is no longer in who we are but in who Christ is (John 1:12).
2. You Seek to Find in someone else what you can only find in God.
God has given His people the gift of community. We can find comfort, help, and encouragement in other believers (2 Cor. 1, Eph. 4:29-30). However, this is merely to be an aid in our sanctification process. The moment you try to find all of your comfort, joy, peace, and love in a person is a sure sign that you have an identity crisis. Are you looking for someone else to give you what only God can give you?
3. Your greatest hopes and desires are found in a person, not god.
God, by His grace, saves us and gives us new desires in our hearts to seek Him and do His will (see Psalm 37). The problem is that we often drift into placing our greatest desires and hopes in people. We desire someone so much that if they were taken from us or we can't have a relationship with them like we had hoped, we despair and turn away from God. We place our hope in someone so that when they fail us or sin against us, we are in utter agony and subtly drift away from God. Are you placing your hope and desires in another person?
The moment you try to find all of your comfort, joy, peace, and love in a person is a sure sign that you have an identity crisis.
Here is the truth: we are often guilty of identity theft. We attempt to take someone else's identity and try to function through it. But the reality of the gospel is that Christ has bought us with His own blood so that, by His grace, we might be called the children of God. And that, my friends, is an identity that brings the greatest comfort, rest, and joy that can be had.
"Healthy relationships have two essential character qualities. First is the humility of approachability. When both people step out from behind protective walls and open up to the perspectives and help of others, each individual, and their relationship, will be given an opportunity to grow and change. The second quality is equally important. In fact, these two qualities cannot live without one another. The second is the courage of loving honesty. Not only do we defend ourselves from the opinion of others, but we avoid uncomfortable moments by failing to say what needs to be said. In the fear of disagreement, tension, and rejection, we choose to be silent about things that, if addressed in love, could be used to bring new insight to one another and a fresh start to the relationship."
-Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (page 77).
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I am a Husband to Clarissa, Lead Pastor Resident at College Park Church in Indianapolis, 'Tweeter' at @brad_merchant, and avid reader of books.