Who am I? The identity a man or women claims profoundly shapes their life. According to the broader secular culture, human identity is found within. Yet the method of discovering one’s true self is fraught with the uncertainty and peril for no person can quickly interpret their biological and environmental influences. They must simply try things and take their emotional temperature without knowing how tomorrow’s experiences could reshape their values. The unending search for uncertain meaning leaves many a soul asking as Kelly Clarkson has sung, “Can someone just hold me?” Don’t fix me, don’t try to change a thing. Oh, someone just know me.”
In contrast to the secular world, Christians claim to be known. They claim to be the sons and daughters of Jesus. And as the children of God, they have clearly defined identities. According to Jude 1, Christians are the called, the beloved, and the kept.
Christians are called. To be called touches on God’s providence but also lands upon holiness. To be called is to be called out of sin and darkness and into righteousness and light (1 Pet 2:9, 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:8-9). Christians have left behind anger, greed, and bad jokes. To be a Christian is to be a man or woman who has been reformed and who is reforming. Those who identify with the calling of God pursue the mercy, peace, and love of God. They quickly confess their sins and offer forgiveness. If they feel the impulse to find meaning in sex outside of marriage, in coveting, or in mistreating their neighbor, they feel from their desires. The Christian knows that happiness comes from embracing the commands of God.
Second, Christians are loved. The believer’s connection to God exists because God loves the sinner. In Ephesians 1:4b-5, Paul writes, “ In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Salvation is God proactively loving sinners. He sends his son to live, die, and rise again so that our sins will be washed away. He then sends his spirit to open our eyes so that we will repent and believe as we begin to understand the height, depth, and love of God (3:18). And those who identify with God’s love are changed by his love. Jesus says,
I made know to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).
Jesus gives his children the hug they have been searching for. But the hug does not just surround the Christian; it transforms him or her. Jesus provides believers with the love they lack. The man and woman who identities with Jesus should embody love in all they do. Christians find their identity as they cook diner for the old lady who has unfairly criticized them, as they speak kindly to the child who broke their lamp, and as they meditate upon the deep, deep love of Jesus.
Lastly, Christian are kept. God the Father calls them. Jesus keeps them. Though Christians may find themselves daily if not hourly in need of God’s mercy, they will never exhaust God’s reservoir of forgiveness, grace, and love. The Christian cannot lose their identity in Christ. Jesus tells his listeners in John 10:27-29:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
No person, spirit, or power (including you and I) can break the loving hold of God. Moreover, Jesus’s keeping power means he can keep Christians from stumbling. Christian do not have to fear that they will be undone by the uncertainty of tomorrow. Jesus will keep them from stumbling whether they inherit millions or learn they have cancer. To be a Christian is to have an unmovable divinely appointed, loving, and fully secure identity.
The Christian has been wrapped in the arms of God. And his loving hug will never end; he will never leave you wanting more. Friend, have you embraced your identity in Christ?