When I was a senior in high school, a long time ago, I was with a friend from church and she was going to introduce me to one of her friends who thought I would hit it off with. She asked me if I was nervous about it and I said “a little”. Then she said something that made it even worse…
“Just be yourself.”
The problem was I didn’t really know who that person was yet. I was such a people-pleaser, I would wait to see how someone would evaluate me before I knew who I was around them. Then I would just become what the person needed at the moment. I had zero self respect as a young man and I’d be lying to tell you it follow me down well into adulthood.
Natural born people-pleasers like myself have an issue with identity because that is normally defined by the person doing the evaluating. “Just be yourself” is the equivalent “Just do brain surgery.” Identity is a dynamic thing because it changes depending on many different factors.
As a father of teens, I see the need of having this conversation on repeat. I want to help answer the question that most everyone asks, “Who am I?” by looking into what it means to be an adopted child of God.
Your answer to the second question will define the first and third. I heard a wise mother once say, “If you know whose you are, you’ll know who you are.”
A little exercise: Look at this passage from the Bible with me.
Ephesians 1:1-13 — How many times is the phrase “In him”, “In Christ”, or some variation of that phrase? Depending on what version you have, it can be seen 7 up to 13 times.
The first aspect of our identity in Jesus is ADOPTION. The spiritual provision we receive from being an adopted child of God is the thing we crave the most, belonging and security in this life.
If we wait around to find identity in what others say about us, we will have short circuited this incredible spiritual provision as a result of believing what God says about us.
Romans 6:9-13 — 9 KNOWING that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so CONSIDER (or reckon, count) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but PRESENT (or offer) yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
What are some issues if we fail to KNOW, CONSIDER, PRESENT?
- Idolatrous Human Relationships resulting in, not just people pleasing, but people worship.
- Chronic Fear of Rejection — “I will die alone.”
- Material Anxiety — “Will we have enough?”
- Obsession with Physical Appearance — “I’m not worthy of love and acceptance if I don’t look a certain way.”
How do we apply this aspect of adoption as God’s children as an essential part of our identity in Christ?
- GIVE and receive the truth in love. This requires putting relationships at risk at times to obey God. Truth in love.
- GIVE something of significance away.
- TAKE inventory of your own heart.