Discerning God’s direction for our lives instead of believing the lies of the world will allow us to live into our true identity in Christ.
At any given moment in North America, just the click of a button can flood the senses with what advertisers produce every day to make millions of dollars: commercials.
In less than fifteen minutes, the television makes evident what our culture values and how it spends its money. We want to look good and feel good. We are drawn to everything from newer cars, trendier clothes, the latest medications, satisfying foods, more attractive bodies, the most recent digital devices, and so on. Advertising ploys in an increasingly individualistic society make standing out from the crowd desirable, yet most of us also dread being left out or not fitting in. How we feel about ourselves can vary from moment to moment, commercial to commercial, and situation to situation.
Even within the subculture of the local church, individuals can both strive to stand out and yearn to fit in.
Our sense of identity and value can fluctuate from the moment we arrive at church depending on who greets us, how they greet us, whether we were asked to serve, if we were voted into a position on the board, or if we participate in communion. Our emotions play a key role in most areas of our lives.
Sometimes, when our emotions have been bruised, we lose our sense of self. When our God-given identity has been attacked, abused, or abandoned, it not only impacts our sense of self but it also our relationships with God and others. We may start believing the lies our damaged emotions tell us and looking for social situations that prove they are true: I was passed up for a promotion which proves I am inadequate. My spouse will once again be disappointed in me. How can God love someone who is continually failing?
This spiral of self-doubt makes it difficult to receive love and to trust those around us. Experiencing trauma or abuse in various forms can add to this spiral, causing us to believe things about ourselves that are not true. Without even being aware of it, we may adopt a malformed identity and an emotionally unhealthy spirituality.
Our capacity to believe spiritual truths is often inhibited by our emotional responses to them.
Resurrecting Our True Identity
The source of our identity is not ultimately rooted in something that fluctuates like emotions do.
Truth is never dependent on how we feel.
Emotionally healthy Christians recognize that we were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Psalm 139 clearly states that we are unique from the point of conception, designed by God in the womb. We are not simply a “blank slate” on which our identity may be inscribed, as some would have us believe.
The enemy wants us to focus on cultural norms of acceptance. If the enemy can get us to focus on building our identity based on the ever-changing desires of culture or even our position within the church, we risk losing our God-given identity and purpose. Thanks be to God that He has not abandoned us to the enemies’ tactics and lies!
When we fully believe God designed us at conception to be uniquely His, then we can embrace the fullness of truth that we are eternally valuable to Him. We can allow Him to renew our minds and create a new heart within us. These biblical truths will set us free spiritually and emotionally. Emotional maturity and health begin when we choose to believe truth over emotions, and we become emotionally intelligent Christians as we practice living out that truth.
Christ’s resurrection showed us His true identity. He is the Son of God and the savior of the world. The power of God can be seen in both the empty grave and in our ability to know ourselves the way He knows us so that we can worship Him in Spirit and truth! As we shed the lies of the enemy which cause us to focus on our failures or inadequacies, we can focus on Him who made it possible to be freed from sin, guilt, and shame.
Most of the disciples were not successful by the worlds' standards, but they followed Jesus with passion. They believed God raised Jesus from the dead, and they lived and died full of faith. Although the world called them fools, they allowed the Holy Spirit to use them and build a church that has lasted to this day. Paul did not focus on his past of persecuting the church but allowed Jesus to resurrect his true identity as a protector and preserver of the Christian faith.
Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us before we knew Him! Allow Him to resurrect your identity and become an emotionally intelligent Christian. Choose to believe this truth: you are uniquely and eternally valuable to our Almighty God.
Elaine Briefman is the associate pastor and a licensed marriage and family therapist who serves at the Hallwood Community Church of the Nazarene in Marysville, California, USA.
Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2018.