I have a friend who recently discovered that her identity had been stolen. As she was sharing with me the process for reporting the fraud and protecting her identity, it surprised me just how exhaustive the process was. There are so many entities that rely on our personal information and “identities.”
This gave me pause to wonder: what is an identity?
According to the government, an identity is our name, address, birthdate, and social security number. Perhaps according to our own selves it is the elements of our personality that makes us unique – whether that be our eye color, our affinity for a certain hobby, or what we consider to be our talents and personality quirks. Maybe we also consider our geographic location, our familial relations, or our sense of what we call “home” a part of our identity.
While all of these things in unique combinations do make us “us” and can even set us apart from one another, they are not the whole of our identity. According to God, our identity is firmly rooted in being one of God’s children. A beloved child whom God created in God’s own image. A child whom God has redeemed through Christ and continues to mold into new creations by the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” I love the image of being God’s handiwork – someone specially handcrafted by a beloved maker. I imagine God as a master woodcarver, carefully sanding and sculpting, and meticulously painting on all the details that make us who we are and who God intentionally designed us to be.
But our identity as a child of God doesn’t end there. We were not created to merely bask in our own glory or the knowledge of being God’s handiwork. God created us to be in community, to love and serve our neighbor, and to share the good news that we are all created in God’s image. We were created with a purpose – a purpose that reflects God’s image and love to those around us so that others, too, may remember their true identity as children of God.
Perhaps the real beauty of this identity is that even when all other parts of our identity might be “stolen” by sin, misused, or forgotten, our core and God-given identity does not just disappear. God’s love and grace renew every morning. Whatever sin or shortcomings we feel may keep us from God, is forgiven. There is nothing that can suddenly change or take away our inherent identity as one of God’s beloved children. Even if our worldly markers and personal sense of identity were to disappear or be stripped away, we would forever remain marked with the cross of Christ.
Heavenly Father and loving Mother, we thank you for making us your children and loving every part of our beings. We praise you because we know we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Help us to see your image in every person we encounter and give us your grace to be different together. Amen.