“What is my identity?” and “Where does it come from?” These are two questions a lot of people never ask themselves, but they are extremely important! Many put their identity in appearance, popularity, job and athletic performance or in their relationships with others. Actually, all of these things are just a byproduct of the way we see ourselves. Where do we derive our identity? If we allow God to deposit His character and vision in our hearts, it will directly affect every part of our lives.
Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him (Jesus) we live and move and exist…” (NLT).
God is not just saying that without Him we can’t exist. It goes much deeper than that. The word “live” in this scripture means to enjoy real life, to be active, fresh, blessed and strong. If we are ever going to begin to enjoy “real life” we have to have our identity founded on Jesus, who is the real life, not founded on just the symptoms of life.
My first date was a catastrophe, destroying my identity and the way I saw myself.
I really liked this girl and wanted to do something I thought she would enjoy, so we decided to go to the movies. “Jaws” was playing, and she agreed to see it. However, the theater was packed and we weren’t able to sit together. I gave her the good seat and ended up sitting in the front row.
Before every shark attack, the music orchestration would kick in, raising the level of tension in the theater. After about three shark attacks, I had gotten so worked up I found myself digging my fingers into the armrest of my chair. In one scene, scuba divers were approaching a boat that had just been demolished by Jaws. The shark attack music began as the divers got closer to the boat, and I thought to myself, “Hey, you guys don’t want to be in the water while this music is playing!” Suddenly a human corpse popped out of the bottom of the boat. It scared me so bad; I literally flipped over my seat into the lady’s lap behind me, my head landing in her bucket of popcorn. I was now looking up into the face of the most terrified person I had ever seen. This woman was convinced a human head had come right off the movie screen and had fallen into her popcorn. She began screaming and scratching my face with her fingernails. I couldn’t move. I was off balance between a row of theater chairs and I was stuck. She wanted this head out of her bucket, and I wanted it out of her bucket equally as much. Now, both of us were screaming. I was kicking and flailing my arms and legs, and she was trying to tear every fiber of skin off of my face. The commotion caused a panic in the front five rows of the theater. People were diving out of their seats and running for the exits. This entire episode lasted only 15 seconds, but every second seemed like an hour, with my head trapped in a popcorn bucket and a terrorized woman trying to scratch my eyes out.
When the lady finally realized what had happened, she turned loose of my face, allowing me to return to my seat. I would have rather wrestled with Jaws than tangle with that woman and her bucket of popcorn. I watched the rest of “Jaws” embarrassed, beat up and feeling like a buffoon. When the movie was over, I got up and limped out of the theater. I had sprained both ankles during the movie. I was the last one out of the theater hoping my date had already left. She stood at the entrance of the theater, took one look at me and her face said it all. I was a wreck. My hair was dripping with butter from the popcorn bucket, and my face looked like it had gotten dropped into a food processor. She thought I was a real freak and decided we could never even be friends.
It took several months for me to get over this event. I had to wait until my scratches healed up and my bruised self-esteem was mended before I could ever look anyone in the eyes again. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I realized my identity isn’t in what a person thinks about me, but who I am in Jesus.
Douglas Coupland wrote a novel in 1991 called “Generation X.” The “X” signifies the “unknown variable.” (If you have ever stayed awake during an algebra classes you know this). Mr. Coupland was saying that this generation is a bunch of people who don’t know where they came from, where they are now, or where they are going tomorrow. Whether we like it or not, the phrase “Generation X” seems to have stuck.
Technically, Generation X are those born after 1965. Now that the X’ers are out of high school, many psychologists are trying to mark the present teens as “Generation Y,” the “Y” being another unknown variable. Maybe after we get to “Generation Z” we can start the alphabet all over again!
I am convinced one of the greatest revelations a believer could ever receive is understanding the purpose and destiny God has for our life. According to God’s Word you can know where you are going!
“So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) (NLT).
For us to replace an unknown variable with a God-given purpose and identity, we have to blast through some identity distracters the enemy would put on our path to throw us off course.
Lie No. 1: Image is everything. Our media-saturated culture has become so obsessed with appearance. It’s easy to feel that if we don’t look like Mr. or Miss Universe, we will never be able to live with ourselves! USA Weekend surveyed teens from across the nation and said only four out of 10 teens consider themselves attractive. Half the girls want to lose weight, and half the boys want to tone up.
There is a saying, “Ugly in the cradle, pretty at the table.” Those words can work for teenagers too. As a person you are not done developing. My wife, who is ? years old (she won’t let me put it in print), is much more beautiful now than she was when we were in college. I’m not just saying this to be sweet; it’s the truth. Pictures don’t lie. Your relationship with God will affect your outward appearance.
“For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” (1 Tim. 2:10) (NLT).
If we will be secure in who we are in Christ, and not in our looks, it will produce something that most people, even the knockouts, don’t have: Godly confidence! God-given confidence will affect your entire life, causing you to be more popular and have more influence than even the best of lookers.
Lie No. 2: You don’t have what it takes. A recent national survey found that the majority of all teenagers don’t feel good about themselves. We have to blast the myth that “you’re not good enough.” The problem is that this lie has moved over into the body of Christ. The devil takes our insecurities and amplifies them. Soon he begins to pound on our identity and paralyzes us, preventing us from stepping into our destiny. We have a promise that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13). Many people quote this scripture, and confess this scripture, but God is looking for someone to believe His promise.
Lie No. 3: It doesn’t matter how you do it; just get the job done. God’s Word is very clear; morals are important! In today’s society we give the guy who “gets the job done” the praise. It doesn’t matter how it gets done; we are happy as long as it gets accomplished. So we no longer glorify character, but rather accomplishments.
If we are going to be around for the long haul, the one thing we have to remember is: If we sow it, we will eventually reap it. Even though some people appear to be getting away with wrongdoing, it will come back on them. Some men’s sins go before them, while other men’s sins follow up after them, but they will eventually be found out! God has promised us if we will lead a blameless life and do what is right, we will stand firm forever (See Ps.15:2-5). What’s right may not be popular, and what’s popular may not be right, but the rewards will last forever.
Lie No 4: To be popular you have to be a people pleaser. Acceptance by our peers is a major concern for most people. We all want to be accepted and to be part of something larger than ourselves, but at what price? It is amazing to see how people have started heading down the wrong road, and others won’t turn loose of bad habits, just so they will have a sense of acceptance.
Of course, your former friends may be very surprised when you no longer join them in the wicked things they do, and they may say evil things about you. But just remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. (See 1 Pet 4:4-5)
One thing we can count on as believers is that we are (already) accepted in the beloved (See Eph 1:6). We can be secure that if we will hold on to that promise, it will produce an identity of confidence that can’t be shaken.
We can only begin to enjoy the “real life” when our identity is grounded on our relationship with Jesus.
For more information on Eastman Curtis visit his website at: www.eastmancurtis.com
Devotional used with permission of Author