My junior year of college, I walked into my apartment, mentally preparing for what I assumed would be an awkward conversation. I wasn’t sure about what I was going to say, but I knew I needed to talk to my friend. Confrontation is never easy, and in this situation, I’ll admit I felt like perhaps I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
My friend had been using a fake ID to get into college parties with her sorority sisters. While she wasn’t using it to drink alcohol, she was assuming someone else’s identity each time she went out with her friends. Her intentions were good (to build relationships with her non-believing sorority sisters), but her means involved telling a lie to do so.
The conversation went much better than I anticipated, and my roommate graciously responded to my fumbling attempts to explain my concerns. She agreed what she was doing was dishonest and threw away her fake ID.
At some point or another, we’ve probably all assumed an identity not our own. As children, most of us played dress-up and pretended to be doctors, teachers, builders, veterinarians, and superheroes. Others have acted in plays or transformed into a favorite character for a costume party.
Pretending to be someone else for an evening can be pretty fun. However, there’s always the understanding that tomorrow will come, and we’ll go back to being ourselves.
The problem arises when we dress ourselves up with counterfeit identities and wear them on a regular basis. We believe we aren’t enough, so we find ways to make ourselves appear better.
Some do this in their work environment—one recruitment firm estimates that 40 percent of all résumés contain false information, including dishonesty about age, experience, education, and previous salaries.
Others do this in subtle ways by exaggeration, self-promotion, or spreading gossip (tearing others down to elevate themselves). The fear of not being enough overflows into false living.
There’s also the opposite reality that someone may attempt to steal our identity. In college, my wallet was stolen while I was out of town on vacation. As soon as I noticed it was missing, I called to cancel my credit card. However, when my statement arrived, I realized someone used my credit card to go on a massive shopping spree. I felt vulnerable, angry, and powerless all at the same time. I was an early victim of a problem that has only grown over the past 20 years—identity theft. In 2016, more than 15 million people were victims of stolen identity, with a total loss of $16 billion.
Fake IDs, padded resumes, and identity theft aren’t just societal problems. They represent our spiritual struggles with identity. Sometimes we knowingly live duplicative lives: we act one way with one group of people and quite differently with another group. Other times, we put on a pleasant Christian exterior, but inside we’re angry, bitter, and boiling over with frustration at God and others.
We’re also prone to becoming victims of identity theft in a spiritual sense: the Devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us with his lies and accusations. Our three enemies—the world, the flesh, and the Devil—all seek to discourage and dishearten us from living in the fullness of who we are in Christ. The world wants to conform us into its mold, our flesh craves self-glory, and Satan reminds us of past sins and present failings in an attempt to paralyze our faith.
I wish putting on our true identity were as simple as my roommate tossing out her fake ID. But in reality, it’s a battle. It’s a struggle to remember who we are in Christ. We need a biblical understanding of identity to guard our hearts and minds as we seek to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
We need a biblical understanding of identity to guard our hearts and minds as we seek to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
Who does the Bible tell me I am in Christ? This is the question we explore in the new book Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of Our Identity in Christ. Each chapter we consider our identity in three ways:
- Identity theft: Expose our false notions of identity.
- Identity truth: Understand the biblical truth of our identity in Christ.
- Identity transformed: Reflect on what it looks like to live in our new (and true) identity.
I always find it helpful to discuss concepts like this with others, so I’m thankful for the various voices this book. Each of these contributors has a passion for Jesus and a love for people. They write with profound theological insight, biblical knowledge, and practical application.
At the end of each chapter, we’ve provided study questions if you decide to grab some friends and chew on these concepts together. We’ve also offered a verse to memorize at the end of each chapter. There’s no better way to guard our minds than hiding Scripture in our hearts to correct and rebuke the lies we tell ourselves. Take the time to memorize these passages to remind you—day after day, week after week—of who you are in Christ.
Who We Are in Christ
To that end, the main emphasis of Identity Theft isn’t focused on who we are specifically as women. Many have written with skill and insight considering how the Scriptures speak to us as women. This book attempts to back up a step and reflect on the question: Who am I in Christ?
As author and missionary Elisabeth Elliot expressed, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”
Our identity in Christ is a fixed anchor guiding us through the changing seasons and circumstances of our lives as women.
Our identity in Christ is a fixed anchor guiding us through the changing seasons and circumstances of our lives as women. We’re not primarily defined by our college degree, marital status, the number of children we have, where we live, or the work we do. It’s our identity in Christ that shapes every aspect of our lives.
As Paul told the Colossians, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Understanding who we are in Christ impacts every other area of our lives. Let’s dig in—we have life-changing truths to consider. Our prayer in this book is for you to experience the fullness of life offered to you in Christ. Don’t waste your life on lesser pursuits.