Despite the unshakeable reality of my new life in Christ, I still struggle with identity amnesia. I daily forget who I am and whose I am.
I suspect my generation, Gen Z, has a particularly thick mass of identity crises to wade through. The world screams “Be you” and “Your choice” and “Your truth”; yet it also screams “Be like us” and “Choose our way” and “Our truth is the right truth.” It’s dizzying.
We’re constantly told, as if it’s freeing news, “You belong to yourself and therefore define yourself.” The malleable understanding of gender and sexuality, the pervasive pressure for a unique social media aesthetic, and (dare I say) the gravitational pull toward political extremes are just some of the surface-level symptoms of the deeper issue: we forget who we are and whose we are.
In search of sturdier ground for understanding who I am, I’ve been drawn to the centuries-old Heidelberg Catechism. Here’s how it begins:
Question: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
In 1563, long before our iPhone-age manifestations of the ancient identity problem, the authors of this confession bravely gave us the antidote. Christianity provides a radically unexpected but truly freeing message: You belong to Christ. Therefore, he defines you.
Christianity provides a radically unexpected but truly freeing message: You belong to Christ.
Last year, when I started reading the Heidelberg Catechism, my fellow songwriter Ben Shive was teaching a children’s Sunday school class about the Tower of Babel. At one point, a little girl said, “I see. They were trying to make a name for themselves, even though God had already given them a name.”
Ben and I looked at each other and said, “That needs to become a song.” We belong to the One who names us. It’s good news—freeing, redemptive, liberating news—that I am not my own. Singing this story is one cure for identity amnesia. Watch the lyric video below to hear our resulting new song, “I Am Not My Own.”
Clay Belongs to Potter
Everything about you—your personality, biology, emotions, humor, gifting—was fashioned by the Father. He shaped you like a potter shapes clay: carefully, intentionally, and with an absurd amount of love. Anyone who has taken a pottery class can tell you it really feels like the clay tries to fight back. It wants to keep the shape it has claimed for itself rather than give itself over to the loving intention of the potter.
But the story of the individual Christian is also one of grace. In the end, the clay doesn’t form itself. Sooner or later, the potter has his loving way.
The clay belongs to the Potter. The creation belongs to the Creator. The masterpiece belongs to the Maker. The song belongs to the Lamb. I belong to the Lord; I am not my own.
To belong to the Lord is not to be idle, because knowing who we are and whose we are comes with a task: we’re called to care for our bodies, minds, and souls. We’re vessels in service to God, priests and priestesses set apart for true worship.
In the end, the clay doesn’t form itself. Sooner or later, the potter has his loving way.
If you’re anything like me, you have an underlying fear that if you mess up in your joyful work, you no longer belong to him. If you give God any cause to mistrust your loyalty, you’re out of the family.
But here’s the good news: even then, you are not your own. You were bought at a price you didn’t set. Nothing you do can outmatch God’s love for you. The Bible makes this clear: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1, NIV).
I am not my own. I belong to the Lord.