Have you ever felt insecure in your career path, marriage, physical beauty, or status in life?
These are questions that preoccupy many of our lives. Growing up in a multicultural home, I began to think about the source of my identity at an early age.
My father is an Asian-American immigrant, and my mother is mostly African American. Growing up among diverse cultures was an eye-opening experience. My parents always taught us to embrace different cultures.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who live with fear and ignorance. One of my first experiences with discrimination occurred when I was about 12 years of age. My sister and I were good friends with another Asian-American family next door.
We played together, laughed together, and went to school together.
My sister and I looked more Asian, and there were never any questions regarding our heritage. One day their mother found out that our mother was “black.” She told her children they could not hang out with us anymore — simply because our mother was black.
This painful experience taught me the importance of identity. I felt the Lord asking me a simple question: What is the source of your identity?
In this world identity is everything: the clothing we wear, the careers we choose, the cars we drive, and the places we live. In other societies, your caste or family name determines your destiny.
If we are not careful, we will take our identity from external things rather than relying on who God says we are.
These are a few short reminders that will enable us to thrive with a proper perspective on our identity.
You are loved by an eternal Father.
Knowing that you are loved by your Father in heaven is key to understanding your identity. This fact is even more important today. I believe the epidemic of fatherlessness in our society has reached crisis levels.
The absence of fathers has led many down the road toward attention-seeking behavior that is destructive not only to themselves, but to others.
We can be confident knowing that our heavenly Father loves us no matter what. We don’t have to gain others’ approval. Our Father in heaven has justified us. He loves us; He made us.
We don’t have to prove or earn His love.
Identity in Christ gives us confidence.
When our identity is rooted in Christ we gain confidence in who God created us to be. Confidence is not to be mistaken with arrogance. Confidence is knowing who you are regardless of the circumstances around you.
The Psalmist declared: “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.”
We can be confident that God uniquely created us to be who we are and that we are made in His image.
Identity in Christ gives us compassion.
When we put our identity in anything outside of God, it leads to idolatry. Idolatry is not confined to the man or woman worshiping stone statues.
It is the blind worship of our wealth, status, race, ethnic heritage, national pride and career.
When we recognize that God is the author of all people and that we are all created in His image, it changes our perspective on people. It gives us compassion for people who may look or seem different from us. Instead of seeing people as a means toward our ends, we can begin to see people as God sees them.
So much pain and suffering in the world exists because we lack compassion for those who are different from us.
Identity in Christ gives us perspective.
Many young professionals, athletes and ministry leaders build their identity around their success. Many of us falsely believe that our identity is connected to what we do, our ethnic heritage, our gender, or what family we were born into.
When we make these factors the cornerstone of our life, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.
What will be left when we lose the things we built our identity on?
Knowing our identity in Christ gives us the proper perspective. Knowing that our Father in heaven ordains our footsteps should give us peace that all things work toward good for those who love Him.
First Peter 2:9 says: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in to his wonderful light.”
We can be confident that no matter what life brings us, we are secure in Him. Our identity is not defined by others. It is defined by our loving Father in heaven.
Touray Kungkagam enjoys alpine climbing, hiking, and the study of science, history, and culture. He lives in Seattle, Wash., with his wife and daughter.
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