Identity theft has occurred to over 27.3 million Americans in the last five years. Massive amounts of souls have had “self” ripped from them.
Typically, to steal an identity, clever thieves slowly gather data on an individual; once the social security number and credit cards and drivers license are in the hands of these garbage-pickers, they can reroute mail, apply for loans (using your hard-earned credit score) and even receive new credit cards in your name, racking up debt that they’ll allegedly never have to pay back.
This drives me to wonder: where should a person find their identity? Is one’s personhood really found in the pages of a few government and financial documents?
I would venture to say no.
And actually, I think the search for yourself would go much more smoothly if you avoid placing your worth in material things, in immaterial success and in the opinions of mere people.
Although I love the melody, Madonna’s “Material Girl” zeroes in on the people’s incessant greed for things. She doesn’t care for deep, long-term relationship; all she wants is a boy with cash, because to her, that’s “seeing the light.” The problem isthat money will come and go. It’s a luxury for many, but it’s certainly not eternal enough to place your identity on.
And the same goes for immaterial success and opinions. I would venture to say someone who has–until death– absolute success and favor with people has not truly staked a hold in absolute identity. They’ve merely hardened themselves to seeing through these secondary sources to the real source of worth.
Also, if success and social status defined identity, where would that leave poor, unpopular souls? Are they without hope? No, and let me explain.
A solid source of identity, in my view, must always be present (unlike money, prosperity, praises or criticisms). It must be true. It must be accessible to all. To find this eternal, true and accessible identity, you have to look outside yourself, for you are not eternal. You are not the source of all truth (I’m sure you’ve lied as I have!). And you are not accessible to all.
This source must ultimately be God Himself. As a Christian, I believe God originally made the world very good. People were satisfied with their worth in God. But tragically, men and women — all of us — turned away from this absolutely accessible source of satisfaction to lesser things. We missed God. We sinned, and in so doing, separated ourselves from God.
In seeing our great need for renewal, God knew he had to bridge the chasm. But God did not require people to work for heavenly dollars (money) or fight to the top (success) or be judged by mere other humans (since we’ve all got sin). No, God instead sent himself as Jesus to live the perfect life we have not, to die the death that sin required of us and to give the gift we cannot earn: salvation.
It is within this amazing, eternal and awesome gift of salvation that we find our true identity. It was never in ourselves. It’s outside of ourselves. In Jesus, we get forgiveness and renewal in our relationship with God. And this offer is open to anyone and everyone.
What great news! We trade our broken ideas of worth for the source of worth himself: Jesus.