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Who are You, Really?

It is impossible to separate your life from your identity. The two are so woven together that to change one necessarily changes the other. Consider any element of your identity. If you are a father, and you suddenly ceased being a father, then almost all other elements of your life would change. The way you work might change, the way you spend your free time might change, and the way you prioritize your life certainly would change. If you are a doctor, and you suddenly cease being a doctor as an element of your identity, then your vocation will change, your study habits and sources will change, and your economic situation might change. Of course, the reverse is also true. If you adjust any of those life elements – your vocation, your study habits and sources, or your salary – then your identity as a doctor also changes. For instance, you become a neurologist instead of a general practitioner, or you become a stupid doctor instead of a smart one, or you become a materially rich or poor doctor based partly on your salary.

Your life tells everyone who you are, and who you really are determines the focus of your life. This truth is captured throughout one of the most radical sounding passages containing a variety of identity related statements by Jesus. In Matthew 10:32-42, he famously teaches his disciples that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. He argues that he will turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and that a man’s enemies will become the people of his own household. In the midst of that teaching, Jesus contends that if you cling to your life, then you’ll lose it, but if you give up your life for his sake, then you will find it (Matthew 10:39).

When you identify with Jesus in a real way, the entire focus of your life changes, and who you are becoming gets displayed so vibrantly in your life that you naturally become separated from those around you who have not also assumed the new identity. You and they become oil and water in a transparent glass. But more profoundly, if you choose to identify with the elements of an earthly life, then the core elements of who you are really supposed to be wither away, and so does true life. You become an animated shell – a mask of what you could be. But if you forsake the elements of an earthly life, you become a member of a royal family, with a true life and the true benefits of the identity you were always intended to image (Genesis 1:27).

What does your life say about your identity?

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