See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and this is what we are! - 1 John 3:1 NLT
A few years ago, I lost my wife to cancer. It was a devastating time for me. Even though I’d pastored for many years, I caught myself being angry with God for what I felt was an unjust decision in concern to my life. It seemed like God didn’t love me and had abandoned me.
The real issue was my loss of identity. Shaken and altered by tragedy, I redefined myself through the filters of circumstances, painful experiences and obstacles. As a result, I lost all sense of stability.
It took some time, but I finally returned to the Lord with the realization that I had acquired false beliefs about God and needed to stand in my identity as God sees me. I stopped viewing myself through my accomplishments, career, relationships and losses.
According to Ephesians 1:3-14, God reveals to every believer that they are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Here we learn that we are, in fact: chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, grace-lavished, unconditionally loved and fully accepted by Him forever. When we are secure in our identity in Christ, these foundations can never be altered by life's circumstances, loss or suffering.
Follow these 5 steps to learn how your identity in Christ changes everything in your life:
1. We must not seek our identity through our successes, accomplishments or relationships – If we are not seeking to find our contentment, peace and identity in Christ alone, then we are trying something else or wrapped up in worldly affairs. When our identity is in the eternal things of Christ, we will not be crushed by our failures, weaknesses and painful life experiences.
2. We recognize that false beliefs are rooted in fear, pride and feelings of rejection. Once we realize that the lie we have been living with is false, then we get to surrender it over to God in repentance and replace the myth with the truth found in scripture about God's love and grace towards us, eternally.
3. We begin to see ourselves as God sees us – If we live out of an identity that’s based on how God sees us, we will no longer feel the need to find our value in external things or lose our worth in the aftermath of painful experiences, situations and events.
4. Don’t be surprised by seasons of suffering, instead become confident that these seasons will produce God's grace in our lives. We can spend our lives fearing pain and suffering, or we can thank God during these times. These seasons often reveal Christ's presence in our lives and allow us to endure suffering from an eternal perspective.
5. Finally, recognize that you must live out of the fullness of your identity in Christ. To fight the often daily battle that includes rejecting false beliefs, we must discover our true identity:
- If you feel rejected, remember you are accepted by Christ!
- If you think you are unforgivable, remember you are forgiven by Christ!
- If you are alone and feel like an orphan, remember that you are adopted by Christ!
- If you believe you are unloved, remember that God loves you and will love you eternally no matter what you do or what you are going through today!
1. How can knowing your identity in Christ change the way you deal with anxiety, fear and rejection?
2. When are you tempted to doubt God's love for you? What steps can you take to embrace God's love for you during those times?