Not too long ago, I did a post on identity. I actually did it on my other blog, before I made the conversion to WordPress. You can find it here. As much as I have tried to move past the idea, it just continues to creep up on me. The concept of identity seems to be staring me in the face every day in every situation in which I find myself.
The latest confrontation with identity has dealt primarily with faith. It’s something that I dealt with myself when I was in my early 20s and I have found that there are some within the church who experience it earlier, some later, some not at all, and then some who simply refuse to confront it at all. We put our faith in people rather than in God. We don’t necessarily live out a faith that means something to us, we live out a faith that has been adopted by someone else.
Growing up as the son of a pastor (that’s what a PK is, in case you didn’t already know that, a Preacher’s Kid), it’s easy to adopt everything that your parents tell you simply because they told you. Of course, it’s good to adopt things if they’re true and if you really believe them, but sometimes, oftentimes, it’s necessary to explore those things on your own. I kind of think that’s what Paul meant when he said to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It needs to be a personal faith that makes sense to you.
To be honest, I have encountered some who consider themselves to be followers of Christ who have never really followed up on the doubts that have inevitably crept up in their lives. Doubt isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a question of what we do with it. Faith and doubt can coexist. John Ortberg has a good book about it (you can find it here). Faith is the substance and assurance of things hoped for and not seen. Out of our doubts, faith emerges.
What I found in my early 20s was that the faith that I held to wasn’t really mine, it was my parents’ faith. When I started feeling the doubts creep up, it was hard to combat those doubts with something that I hadn’t really explored myself. So I set out to understand it for myself. I went on the journey, the pilgrimage, to find out whether I really believed what I thought that I did, what I said that I did.
In the end, all of the essentials were the same as those of my parents. There were some divergences here and there, but they weren’t in the majors, they were in the minor things. Instead of following Christ because I was told to follow him, I followed Christ because I knew it was right and true.
I have encountered people who consider themselves followers of Christ who hang on every word said by pastors and preachers. They never explore those things for themselves and when those people inevitably disappoint them their faith is shattered. They lose all confidence in their faith because it wasn’t based on Jesus, it was based on what someone else told them. When we put our faith in fallible things, we will most likely be disappointed. When we put our faith in the infallible, we won’t be disappointed.
There are millions of people in the world searching for who they really are. Many of them find themselves in places that will disappoint, that will fail, that will crumble. In Christ, we find our identity, who we were created to be. It’s the one place in the world where we can go to find out who we really are without fear of rejection, without fear of failure, without fear of judgment. In Christ, we are met where we are, but we are never left there. Through Christ we experience restoration, regeneration, renewal.
Where do you find your identity? While some might see Christ and religion as a crutch, I have found it as a crutch that holds me up the way that nothing else can. In my weakness, he is strong. In my failure, he succeeds. In my rejection, he accepts. In my judgment, he declares me righteous because of who he is and what he has done. Call it a crutch if you want, I’ve just never found anything else that compares to what I have found in him.