Identity 03.03.19 excerpt
We sing a song often in our Sunday morning praise service that says, “I know who I am”. But do we really know who we are? In Luke 15, Jesus told a story about a lost son. This story has become known as the parable of the prodigal son. In this story we have a father who is a nobleman with two sons. The younger son decides that he wants to go his own way and live by his own rules. So, he asks his father for his portion of the inheritance. Shortly thereafter he packs up his belongings and departs, leaving behind everything upon which his identity has been established, to go to a foreign land where he could create a new identity.
Once he arrived in the new land, he started living it up, spending all his inheritance on reckless and immoral living. Once his money was gone, things went from bad to worse. There arose a severe famine in the land and now he had no purchasing power. So, he took a job feeding pigs. One day as he fed these pigs he became so hungry that he started looking at the pig’s food with envy. At that moment, the Bible says that he “came to himself”- he came to his senses and realized how foolish he had been. He started thinking about how the hired servants of his father were eating better than he was. Here he was, the son of a noblemen, looking at pig slop wishing he could eat it while servants of his father had access to good food and descent living. He had lost his identity. Being the hired hand of a pig farmer might have been OK for someone else, but wasn’t who he was….or who he was supposed to be.
So, what did he do? He packed up his stuff and headed for home. As he thought about reuniting with his father, he didn’t think about assuming his identity as a son, but rather, as servant. He was repentant and ready to become less because he realized that he had taken his identity for granted. But when he got there, that’s not how his father saw him. He was still his son and was treated with love, compassion and acceptance.
There are times in our lives where we have what I’ll call an “Aha!” moment - that moment when we realize that how we’re living or what we’re doing doesn’t measure up to who we know we are or what we’ve been called to be. It is at those times that we must examine ourselves, repent of our waywardness, and with humility commit to live up to our true identity.
You may or may not have grown up in the best of circumstances. The people in your life may not have been the best role models. Your family name may have been associated with poverty, crime, substance abuse, or riotous and ungodly living. You may have been abandoned, neglected, and/or abused. But you don’t have to be identified by any of those things. Your identity evolves and it is not simply about where you came from or where you’ve been, it is about who you are now and where you are going. Every family has a story – good and bad. But your story can have a better ending when you realize that when Jesus Christ is in your life, you are a part of God’s family. In God’s family there are responsibilities and requirements, but there are also privileges and rights.
If you ever wanted to have a new identity, you can have it in Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we do not lose our true selves, we become our true selves. You’re a new creation in Him. Don’t try to live like those who don’t know Christ or adopt the world’s value system. There’s no life in it. You are made in the image and likeness of God and your identity is secure in Him.