- A Guide To Improving Your Church’s Online Sermon, Community, and Connection - March 16, 2020
- Why Having A Strong Identity In Christ Is Hard - September 30, 2019
- Everything You Need To Know About Bible Translations - March 4, 2019
We all want it – to have our identity in Christ be unshakable. But for many of us, we just can’t seem to live out the truth day in and out that we are a child of God.
Yes, we might understand that we’re a child of God on an intellectual level. But when we’re stressed, frightened, or confused, does knowing your God’s child provide comfort and clarity? Or do we tend to fall into the same old patterns of response that never change?
Is Jesus truly the sculptor of our identity and how we respond to the world – or do we often have to admit that there is a long way to go before we can honestly say, “I am a child of God” and believe it with full sincerity?
Why is that? Why do we have such a hard time holding on to and living in the identity of Christ?
In this article, we will discuss what it looks like to identify as a child of God and some of the reasons why it’s hard to have a strong identity in Christ. Then, we’ll offer up some practical solutions for you to put into practice today so you can continue building unshakable faith.
What are some of the
signs that you struggle with your identity in Christ?
For many of you reading this, you no doubt have already had a moment in your life where you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior. There are many terms for this point in your faith journey – “being saved,” “born again,” “having salvation.” The theological term often used here is “justification,” which literally means you’ve taken on Jesus’ payment for your sin and you’ve been rectified in relationship with God.
However, this is just the start of your faith journey – because God has so much more in store for you, and central to growing in faith and connection to Him is building our identity in Jesus. As John writes in John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (NIV)”
Seeing ourselves as the children of God is a primary marker of someone who has a strong identity in Christ.
But it goes beyond that, because having our identity strongly rooted in Christ also means that there should be outward changes in how we react and respond to the world.
In his first epistle, John wrote in 1 John 3:10, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (NIV)
John is speaking very broadly here, because we know God has grace on our sin and forgives us, even after we’ve been saved. But John does speak here to the reality that an identity in Christ should make our lives look differently.
We should have compassion in our responses to others. We shouldn’t be so quickly to get angry. There should be restoration in our relationships, and we should be looking to settle grievances.
For those who have an identity strongly rooted in Christ, our actions should literally mirror the kinds of responses that Jesus Himself would have made.
We need to have our actions and decisions continually refined by Christ.
When we are rooted in His image, God shapes us to be more like Him.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
“Fixing our eyes on not on what is seen” is at the very heart of having a strong identity in God and reflecting the image of Jesus in our world. When we are able to react to others and ourselves, then that is evidence that God is working on us and we are “being renewed day by day.”
But having a strong identity in God isn’t easy.
There are so many things, both internally and outwardly that tear us down, making it difficult to understand who God has created us to be.
- Low self-esteem
- Past hurts
- Parental issues
- Misunderstanding of Christian theology
- Misunderstanding of God
- Misunderstanding of Jesus and His ministry
- Being easily influenced by others, both good and bad
- Not being actively invested in your faith
- Listening to the wrong sources of information
- Unsure of God’s voice and direction
- Lacking the Fruit of the Spirit
- Confusion over all the different people and messages lobbying for your attention
Again, having a strong identity in Christ and genuinely believing you are a child of God is not easy. There are so many barriers that can get in the way, but there is always an opportunity to grow in faith.
Steps For Growing Our Identity In Christ
Learn To Evaluate Our Behavior And Responses
Many adults tend to see themselves as having fully formed as both people and personalities, and as a result, see themselves as being “who they are.” But the Gospel of Jesus repeatedly points us to the need for transformation in our lives. Paul writes in one of my favorite verses, Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul’s word here isn’t simply for new Christians or younger people – it’s for all us.
In order to become more strongly centered on what God intends us to understand – that we are His child – we have to be willing to step into transformation. The positional willingness of our heart is the fertile ground God can use to grow and shape us.
If we are willing to check our own personal responses to circumstances, particularly when life isn’t going our way, and ask questions like – “Am I responding in anger or impatience? Is this how a child of God would act? – then we are able to start moving in the direction of seeing how much we genuinely need God to mold us and grow us.
Pay Attention To The Competing Voices In Our Lives
Everywhere we look, there are advertisements, social media posts, friends, family, neighbors, politicians, TV and movies, and every other possible “voice” striving for your attention and support. Never before in history have so many ideas been brought before our attention routinely and repeatedly. This sort of fatigue has an effect on us, and makes it difficult to discern timeless truth from passing ideas and people.
The Gospel of Jesus, which is what points to the reality of God’s love for us as His child, has to be the thing that we cherish the most. We simply need to prioritize our connection with God over everything else if we want to take steps forward in having an identity built around Jesus.
Being able to see Jesus at the center of our identity is a real challenge in the 21st century, but throughout all of history, Christian people have faced the same struggle, even those we read about in the New Testament. That’s why the author of Hebrews wrote in 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
It’s God’s intention that we remain focused on Him and the love He has for us as His child. To hold “unswervingly” to His hope means that we don’t get side-tracked by all the voices around us. To build an identity in Christ, we have to recognize that what God says about us is the thing that really matters.
We live in the world, and we’re called to minister to the world – but that doesn’t mean we have to conform to it. The Gospel has always been counter-cultural to the ways of humanity – and we can begin seeing ourselves as the child of God when we recognize that it’s His voice as our loving parent we should be listening to.
Find Ways To Connect To God Everyday
Building an identity around Christ isn’t something that happens overnight,
For example, few people would self-identify as a “piano player” after a single lesson, or if they only sit down at the keyboard a couple times a year to practice. Most people wouldn’t call themselves “a runner” if they only go out for a jog on the rarest of occasions. And I doubt few people would think of themselves as “a chef” if they only fix a box of macaroni and cheese at home once a week!
Our identity is built around things that we repeat daily, frequently, and think about a lot. There has to be a strong connection that’s built over and over.
When it comes to building an identity in Christ, we too need to look at it as a process and not something that just happens automatically. In order to see real transformation, we have to be willing to put in the effort to build a stronger connection with God everyday.
Regular Scripture reading, for example, helps us to better know the message God has for us, and check our beliefs about Him through the lens of the truth He’s already provided us. Prayer and reflection help us refine our thinking, test our thinking in the company of God, and seek his renewal in our lives. These are just a few of the things we can do to begin cultivating a practice of engaging God daily and understand His goodness and work in our lives. He is our Father, and He wants to turn to Him daily.
With an understanding of how vitally important it is for us to stay connected with God daily, we’ve created something to help you on your journey toward a stronger identity in Jesus.
Forevergreen is our monthly membership plan that provides you all the tools and resources needed to create space in your life to connect with God more deeply, while better understanding the truth of His love for your life. Forevergreen members receive a monthly planner with Scripture, devotion, prayer prompt, daily truth and reflection questions all in one spot, along with a place to plan your day and process what God is speaking to you.
And if doing a digital planner isn’t quite your thing, we are now providing daily emails with the same content from the planner in an email format as part of the membership!
In addition to the planner, we also provide a monthly in-depth Bible study, written by us, professional ministers and theologians to help you tackle the most important issues for building unshakable faith and growing in your connection with God.
If you’re serious about growing your identity in Christ, and taking on all of the other important topics for a deeper connection to God, then you should check out Forevergreen. We believe that following this plan could really change your entire perspective on what it looks like to be God’s child and grow in His love for you.
Growing our identity in Christ isn’t easy, but it’s central to our purpose in following Jesus. I have no doubt in my mind that God blesses those who put in the effort to seek His will and place Jesus at the center of their lives.
Growing our identity in Christ is one of the most important things we could possibly do in our lives – and I wish you all the best in your journey to deepen your understanding that you are a child of God.