By Jimmy FaultLeRoy
I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity lately. Partly because I have to speak to a men’s group about it next Monday, but mostly because I question my own. Regularly.
I really do. I have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, and I know right now that I belong to God. I know that I am an adopted son in His phenomenal family. But I often get confused about all of that - I stop talking to God for a few days, I begin to believe other messages about who I am. I start to ignore the ways that my Father in heaven describes me, and before long, I have forgotten. Everything.
It’s not like amnesia - waking up one morning wondering who I am. And it’s not like having my wallet lifted at the mall. Those are abrupt and obvious events that demand immediate attention.
What I’m talking about is more like what a friend of mine was saying about swimming at the seashore. You’re having fun in the waves, you get tumbled a few times, the pull of the tide is strong but doesn’t feel dangerous. But thirty minutes later, when you wipe the water out of your eyes and look back to the beach, you can’t see your umbrella, you don’t recognize anyone at all, and you find you’re 500 yards south of your family.
This kind of identity theft is a subtle drift, a slow, incremental movement away from the truth.
Actually, it reminds me a lot of “The Lion King” movie. Simba had been deceived and lured away from the pride, and over time adopts a whole new carefree lifestyle. But in a vision one night, the mystical image of Mufasa addresses Simba from out of the night sky. His father tells him, “You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me.”
It’s true for me, too. I am “in Christ,” and He is “in me,” according to Scripture. My identity is infinitely tied to Him. So if I drift away down the beach, or like Simba, if I get scared and go find an oasis somewhere, I risk losing not just a sense of the presence of God, but a sense of myself, too.
“A sense of...” - That’s all it is. I think it’s comforting to know that, even though I might lose my way, my actual identity is never lost. Off on my own, people might call me all sorts of things, the Enemy might attempt to cloud the issues, but my sonship always remains intact.
The story of the prodigal son is my favorite by far, and possibly the most poignant illustration of the permanence of the sonship of a follower of Jesus Christ. This guy jacks everything up - imagine what it would feel like if you’d spent all of your Dad’s money on sex and parties and after it was gone you found yourself up to your knees in pig manure and rotting vegetables. But he goes home. It takes a while for him to wake up, but somehow he remembers who he is and where he belongs. When he shows up, he is celebrated. He isn’t derided for being a hooligan and a fool. His father doesn’t subject him to servanthood. No. His identity has remained intact. He is who he is.
He is who his father says he is.