Identity Crisis: Who Are You Really as a Follower of Christ?
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Princess Bride (Men: This is not a chick-flick movie. It has sword fights, great feats of strength and overcoming overwhelming odds to rescue a damsel in distress – plus it’s funny). One of the main characters in the movie is Inigo Montoya, a man obsessed with revenge.
When Inigo was a boy, his father was killed by a six-fingered man and he has spent most of his life training so that he can one day exact his revenge. He even has his introduction to the six-fingered man down pat:
“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
And (spoiler alert) he does just that. Once he has exacted his revenge, though, he is left with a conundrum because his entire identity had been tied up in one thing.
“Is very strange,” he marvels in his Spanish accent. “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”
Our identity, even as Christians, is almost always based on the work we do for a living. Yet we are many more things.
Many Americans are in the same situation about their identity, although they may not realize it. When you ask someone, “Who are you?” (or sing it, like The Who, “Who are you? Who, who?”) the person is likely to reply with something like this:
“I’m an office manager.”
“I’m a school teacher.”
“I’m a rock star (if you happen to ask a member of The Who).”
Our identity, even as Christians, is almost always based on the work we do for a living. Yet we are many more things. For example, I could answer the question, “I’m a husband,” or “I’m a father,” or “I’m a baseball fan.”
Still, my identity is not tied to my occupation or my marital status or my devotion to the New York Yankees. My identity is that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a child of God.
Paul wrote a lot about this identity. He said we are now citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), our old self was crucified and we now live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20), we were chosen for adoption into God’s family (Eph. 1:5), we are children of God (Ga. 3:26) and we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:6). John adds that our new identity as God’s children is a result of God’s great love (1 John 3:1).
When you think about it, shouldn’t our identity be the same as our top priority in life?
This is obviously quite a bit better than even our noblest professions or relationship statuses. This new identity comes with some pretty good perks – a new abundant life on earth, co-heirs with Christ in his glorious inheritance and eternal life.
When you think about it, shouldn’t our identity be the same as our top priority in life? And when we answer the identity question with our job function, what does that say about our priorities? If we truly make following Christ our No. 1 priority, then our identity will first and foremost be that of being a Christ follower. (This works even if the question is, “What do you do?” You can answer, “I follow Christ.”)
I’ve even thought of a catchy way to phrase it a la Inigo Montoya: “Hello. My name is Child of God. You have been saved by grace. Prepare to live.”