In this video, Melissa Kruger, Megan Hill, and Jen Michel unpack passages of Scripture that inform how believers understand their worth and how this contradicts the messages of our culture. For more from these authors and others—including Trillia Newbell, Jen Wilkin, and Hannah Anderson—pick up a copy of the new book Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of Our Identity in Christ.
One of the things that I actually really enjoy doing is taking personality tests. I don’t know if you all like them or you’re annoyed by them. But I really like it. There’s something to me about being able to read the description know that there are other people like me. Maybe I’m a little disturbed that the test so accurately described me, but I think one thing that we all know is that Scripture accurately describes us too. It says, “This is who you are in Christ.”
What are some of the scriptural thoughts that encourage you when you think about your identity in Christ?
I’ve been thinking recently about the beginning of Philippians: Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, and he’s thankful for their partnership in the gospel (Phil. 1:5). And then he says that they are partakers with him of grace (Phil. 1:7). What an outstanding claim. Here we have the Apostle Paul, and he’s writing to the church at Philippi, which started with a slave girl, a jailer who worked for the enemy in Rome, and a woman named Lydia. These were people who were not super important in that society. But to this marginalized church, Paul says “You’re my partners in the gospel, and you share in God’s grace with me. You’re going to inherit this grace. This grace belongs to you with me.” And I love that the church at Philippi was just as secure in who they were in Christ as the great apostle Paul.
I recently have been thinking a lot about Titus 2:14 where it talks about Jesus has redeemed us from lawlessness and he’s made us a people of his own possession who are zealous for good works. And I love that because, number one, it reminds me that I’m not just an individual. I’m not just a solitary unit. In the kingdom of God, I’m part of a people. I’m part of a family. And it just reminds me of this great cloud of witnesses that have gone before. God is gathering the people for himself and I’m not alone.
He’s purified the people for himself. He has called us to be holy, to be his. And he’s also making us zealous for good works. And so we’re in the world doing the work of God in the world, and it just reminds me of both my identity and my purpose for why I’m here.
I love that image of belonging because I think we all know with our cell phones, especially in the lives of teens, we see others but don’t really feel like we belong to anything. A lie can get in our head as we look at our phones. We think that everybody out there belongs to something better. We see them at a party or we see other people doing these things that look like their family is perfect. And we can really start to believe lies like, “I’m alone. I’m isolated. I’m not good enough,” or, “I’m not right enough. Everybody else’s life is picture-perfect and mine is clearly not.”
How do you think culture influences these lies that we can hear shouting in our brains? Because I think these lies are diverse and prevalent. How do you all see them affect the women you minister to or even your own hearts?
I live in Toronto, which is an ambitious kind of city where your worth and identity is all about what you achieved, what degree you get, what company you work for, how fast you are climbing the ladder, what car you drive, and where you live. It’s just all those externals. Your worth is defined by what you have and where you work. And it’s the reason why the first question that you ask somebody when you’re at a dinner party is, “What do you do?” Because that’s how you’re supposed to find your identity.
Yeah. And do you think that’s isolating then?
I think it’s incredibly isolating, and I think it’s this elusive pursuit. When is it ever going to be enough? So you made it to manager, but now you’ve got to make it to director, and then you’ve got to make it to partner. Whatever ladder you’re climbing, you never really reach the top. You’re always climbing. There’s always something new to have, something that somebody has that you don’t have. You can clearly see that inner restlessness that Augustine talks about, that “our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.” We’re not meant to find our identity in these external things because they don’t ever fully satisfy.
I think we also see people wanting to define themselves, and I think that’s the interesting thing about the personality test that Melissa was talking about. I realize some science is behind it, but ultimately you get out of the test what you put into the test. And so, if you put, “I’m a caring person who likes people,” then at the end it’s going to say you’re a caring person who likes people, because it will tell you exactly what you put into it. So even there, we see that people want to be able to define themselves.
In the Bible, God tells us what our identity is, and he declares us to be his people. And he declares the purpose for which we’re made, and that purpose might be something different than what we imagined for ourselves, but it’s the thing that the Lord sets before us.
It’s hard in these different topics to keep reminding ourselves of truth day in and day out. So, how do you do that? When you realize that you are believing the lies, how do you speak truth to your own heart? What process do you go through when you’re hearing a lie? What do you need to remember? How do you all do that?
That’s partly why the church is so important. The Scriptures define who we are and give us our identity, but then the people of God help us claim that identity, live out that identity.
When we come together as a church and hear God’s Word proclaimed, Lord’s day after Lord’s day, we’re all sitting there receiving that message together. Someone in the pew next to me, and another person in the pew next to me, we’re all hearing the same truth. And then by the help of the Holy Spirit and dependent upon him, living that out. But we’re all in it together.
And these people in the church speak the truth of Christ and live out the truth of Christ, encouraging me to live in that truth. And that’s part of what we’re saying about not being isolated. Being joined to God’s people is what really helps us to live into the identity that he’s given to us.
Only in the church are we told a different story. I think about the liturgy that we work through every Sunday. We’re saying that God has called us, cleansed us, communes with us, and wants to be with us. He speaks his love over us and sings over us. And that relationship is completely apart from anything we’ve ever done to deserve it. We rehearse that story Sunday after Sunday when we gather with God’s people.
I can’t even imagine trying to remember that story. We all know how embattled we are Monday through Saturday. Then we get to Sunday. Now is the time to remember the story, to rehearse the truth of who we are.
I feel like a sieve. You know, I get to Monday morning at 10 a.m. and all the truth is already filtering through. We’re forgetful people. We’re relying on lies. And how does God reset our identity? That’s a work of grace. We go to God. We don’t try to fix ourselves. We can’t just muscle up and tell ourselves, Well, okay, today I’ll remember who I am in Christ. Rather our posture should be, God, I forget. I’m so vulnerable to forgetting, so vulnerable to wandering. Heal my broken heart. And we constantly put ourselves into the care of the Great Physician who heals our identity and reminds us of who we are. We pray, Lord, give us ears to hear your truth and courage to resist the lies from the world.
Romans 12:1 reminds us we’re not called to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That requires regular intake of Scripture that’s constantly setting our true north.
What I love is even that verse speaks to our need for transformation because what people can sometimes try to project is perfection, but the gospel reminds us it’s okay that we’re not okay. That’s why a Savior came, and it’s the best news imaginable. Finally, we can for the first time be vulnerable. We’re not perfect; we’re not all we should be. This image-bearer is broken, but she is being transformed. The reality of our identity and the great hope is that one day we will be perfectly restored. And that’s the day we’re all waiting for. Come Lord Jesus!