Over the last few years there has been a huge push for people to protect themselves from identity theft. And this is probably why…the Javelin Strategy and Research group reported that there were over 10 million victims of identity theft in the United States, that it can take up to 5,840 hours (or 243.3 days) to correct the damage caused by identity theft and that account fraud totaled 31 billion dollars and the dollar amount lost per-household averaged $1,620. The main two ways people experience identify theft is from the the theft of a debit/credit card or your Social Security card. So obvisously with stats like this, protecting your identity from “bad guys” is pretty important. Even if these numbers are inflated by corporations who financially could benefit from us using their services to protect ourselves, these numbers are staggering to me.
What’s more staggering and more alarming to me is the number of people, young and old, who are suffering from a spiritual identity theft. It’s happening every day. Thousands of people are being affected daily. One of the most critical tasks I face as a pastor today is the challenge of helping people discover their identity in Christ Jesus. As people get older they experience new freedoms in life and they began to analyze themselves more critically and become more consumed with their self image and they start to make extrememly important decisions about their idenitity.
A friend taught me that more than annointing, more then anything else, that character matters to God. Everyday people make decisions, decisions that determine their character and their identity. Our indentity could be defined as a collaboration of our actions, motives and what we value. Do your actions, your motives behind your actions and what you value truly reflect your idenity?
To understand who we are, we must look at ourselves as if we were looking in a mirror. And not just externally, but internally, and spiritually. Who are you really trying to impress? What are the things you love and what are the things you can’t stand? What gives you joy and what destroys your peace? What are things that are influencing you and your actions or motives? What do you find value in? When do you feel valuable?
Scripture tells us that God has made us and that we are His masterpeice. Above all of the things He has created, we are His best work. His best.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
Scripture tells us that God deeply loves us.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” (Colossians 3:12)
And, Scripture tells us that God believes we have tremendous value.
“…the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” (Deut. 14:2)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.” (Romans 8:15-21)
The byproduct of believers who view themselves from God’s perspective, in light of His truths, the byproduct is confidence in and contentment with these truths. It’s about letting our identity rest in who God says we are rather then in what the world trys so desperately to get us to believe about ourselves. Our spiritual idenitity has be grounded in godliness, or simple put: we’ll experience spiritual identity theft again and again.
I also believe that God has placed many of us to stand in the gap today because we have people in our lives, people we lead and have influence over, who are are experiencing spiritual identity theft and I believe that we need to rise up as a Holy nation, living for God who has called us out of darkness to proclaim God’s desire for us to be people who passionately live in light of our spiritual identity in the midst of the world we live in. And this will be no easy task but the Lord believes in us to be people who point others to Him in this area so that they can continually connect their hearts and minds to His revealed truth for their lives. So it comes down to this: we must be people who live in light of our spiritual identity in Christ because the world is watching how we choose to live out our identity.
People respect you and they are learning from you by watching your personal spiritual journey, so what are you teaching them about your identity in Christ? Talk about your life and your struggles, share with them the victories over temptation and sin in your life, talk to them about the people who truly influenced you and helped you with those past messes and mistakes in your life. Be incarnational this way because the way your identity in Christ impacts your life on a daily basis is a great way for people to understand what it means, practically, to be grounded in godliness.
We have the best product in the world to prevent spiritual identity theft. We do. It’s a life of holiness found in Jesus Christ. Satan has wrapped up this idea of what our identity isn’t, in some pretty powerfully attractive things. But, just like people today get confused and give over information that leads to personal identity theft we should not fall victim to Satan’s schemes to seek out and destroy our heart, our mind, our character…and our identity in Christ.
Do your actions, your motives behind your actions and what you value truly reflect your idenity? Are you suffering from spiritual identity theft? God has provided us with the truth about who we are, how we are loved, and, how deeply valued we are. We need to embrace these truths for our lives and then share with the world how we live these truths out so that we can influence them and help prevent spiritual identity theft. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:37-39] Don’t let your identity be seperated from the spiritual reality that you belong to God, you were created in His image and He desires for all of us to live a life that is committed to a message of God’s redemption and love as we live in light of our true spiritual idenity.