So there’s multiple concepts I want to discuss with identity in coming to terms with your own identity, but also in regards to discussing it in terms of others. Such a post is likely to become very long so I’m going to break it up into multiple parts. I want to dig into the concept of what identity actually is to us.
What is Identity
Wikipedia has this to say on what identity is in terms of analyzing it from multiple views:
In psychology and sociology, identity is a person’s conception and expression of their own (self-identity) and others’ individuality or group affiliations (such as national identity and cultural identity). The concept is given a great deal of attention in social psychology and is important in place identity.
That’s a decent naturalistic way to explain it, but as Christians we know that naturalism is definitely not everything. It is also most assuredly not the ultimate Truth which is the Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit or the Scriptures which speak of God.
There are many concepts that we can hold onto in terms of identity. For example, I would describe myself as a Christian. That is one form of identity. I can describe myself by my job in the fitness industry. That would be another form of identity. I can even to something as simple as being male.
I think the more nebulous part of identity involves not just who we are in the world but in terms of our core personality in how we interact with the world. When I talk about personality I’m talking in terms of not behaviors which can be learned and unlearned but moreso the core facets which we have been created with. The Myers-Briggs or the more accurate Big Five personality test attempt to sum up some of the traits of personality where each person is fairly unique in how they manifest on a spectrum scale.
Likewise, I would in this our hopes and dreams as well within the set of core personality. Some people want to be teachers, some people want to be engineers, some people want to do whatever else. There are realistic and unrealistic dreams, so this has to be taken into account as well.
Thus, identity is the core view that we have of ourselves. How we view ourselves affects how we interact with the Father, and how we interact with others.
In this respect, if our identity is off but we have up the perfect facade it is like building a house upon the sand. The wind and the rain can blow it down.
This is the way I have come to view that which we call “game” both the male and female versions. It’s essentially building the facade of a house. You don’t see any of the interior, and you don’t see any of the foundation. Sure, you can build something up to look really attractive and beautiful — if you’re a man or a woman — but ultimately if the inside looks like garbage you’re in trouble. Even more so if the foundation is garbage.
However, the way Father wants us to build ourselves is much different. We are to align our core values, our foundation, with the Father. Then we are to assess the interior of the house to make sure it can support the structure, and only then are we free to make it look attractive. Applying the backward approach using game is tenuous at best and soul damning at worst.
Prodding identity yields defensiveness
Donal recently posted an analysis about a the blog post of a girl who is discussing singleness. Now, my intention is not to dump on the girl writing about singleness or being content about it but to use it as an example because it shows clear what I am talking about.
When something becomes the identity that you associate yourself with you will try to convince yourself that you’re right, especially inadvertantly using emotional language, grammar, and bolding.
The woman in question is currently single and really wants to be married; however, she has written a whole article trying to convince herself that singleness is OK. Well, that’s an identity crisis right there and it shows. Fortunately, she got some of it right in that she is supposed to be looking at the positives of singleness; however, as Donal analyzes in the article it could have been better if she had stated she was specifically using the single time in preparation for marriage.
If you’re single and want to be married, you should be using your single time to actually prepare to be the ideal spouse of your ideal spouse. What if your ideal spouse shows up, and you’re not their ideal spouse? They’ll pass over you in a heart beat. That’s the only major issue I saw with her post.
This present a major problem if you root yourself in an identity that is not in the Father.
There’s various of other examples such as being a fan of sports teams, your career or occupation, your hobbies and activities, or even being “alpha” or “red pill.” This is not to say that having a vested interest in such things is bad. But rather, is such a thing worth having significant investments of emotions, time, and energy expending in defending them?
As I’ve grown as a Christian I find myself less defensive about things that ultimately don’t matter that much. Sure, my job is important but it doesn’t define who I am. I am, at the core, a son of the Father. Do I need to be defensive if someone thinks I’m wrong? Or can I just let it go because in eternity that doesn’t matter. What matters more is the person in front of me and not what we are talking about.
I build a case for these in the previous section because they are good indicators of things that we hold onto tightly that have become or may even become idols in our lives even unknowingly.
Revelation is the key to understanding not just our identity, but to be able to read, understand, and apply the Scriptures. This is made manifest through the unveiling of the revelation of Jesus in our lives. Paul discusses this many times throughout the New Testament that he is writing by his revelation with Jesus. The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis:
G602 — ἀποκάλυψις — apokalupsis — ap-ok-al’-oop-sis
From G601; disclosure: – appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.
A revelation occurs when you read the Scriptures where the verses come alive to you or resonates with you. Likewise, a specific Scripture may have specific meaning in your life. It is a moment where you understand more of who the Father, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit are and are able to be molded and conformed to be more like them.
One such example that is non-Scriptural by some measure is the red pill. When you take it, your eyes are unveiled and you can see past the lies that feminism, society, and virtually everyone have fostered. There’s nothing wrong with taking the red pill; however, the problem is when it becomes part of your identity to which you need to become defensive about it when it is bashed. If you truly are comfortable in your knowledge there is no need emotionally to defend erroneous statements.
What happens with revelation is that the “old” is taken off and the “new” is put on. You replace a lie, a half truth, or even an inferior understand of something with a new understanding that gives you greater knowledge and forms how you view the world.
Digging deep into your identity
Let’s look at some practicals.
As I mentioned in the previous post Behavior cycles and Identity one of the major reasons how this got started was that I was looking at the lack of joy and peace. In particular, the thing that stood out the most to me is that ultimately the lack of joy and peace stemmed from an identity issue.
For example, even if I understand that God has forgiven me, I also need to understand that I also need to forgive myself. I need to walk free from the chains that are already broken. Whereas the Father sees me in the light of my true identity — made free to be His son — I still see myself as one who has to perform on some level before I am worthy to be His son.
This is the contrast between the grace and mercy that have been made freely available to us, and my own perception of a works or performance based model where I have to strive for the Father’s love.
In particular, this is where stubborn sins may have hold over our lives. Pornography is one great example of this. Prior to my rebaptism last year, I was trapped in a cycle where I was addicted. I was trying to escape such a thing myself, walking into a false identity of who the Father says I am in Christ. I was turning the “take off the old and put on the new” into a works based performance type of issue where I thought I need to be better or earn my salvation in a sense by not sinning.
I’m here to say that is backward thinking. When you know that the Father is already pleased with you that drastically changes your perception of who you are in Christ.
Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
The Father is well pleased with Jesus even before He begins His ministry. However, you would think that the Father would say that He is more pleased as Jesus is carrying out His ministry; yet, the Father says the same thing affirming Jesus’ identity in Him. The only addition being that they should listen to Him.
Old Covenant versus the New Covenant
This is the shift in transactional nature thinking from the Old Covenant to that which is freely given in the New Covenant. The mindset that we have where we have to be better, or we have to be able to stop sinning so that the Father will be pleased with us, or that we need to do this or that in order to have the Father be pleased with us is a false works-based performance mindset.
When you truly understand this, the weight is lifted off you because you know that the Father is pleased with me without doing anything. He is still pleased with me when I sin, because Jesus’ blood covers over that sin. He is pleased with me when I do what is right — not because I did what was right but because Jesus redeem me to be His son. Of course, I am not saying this to abuse grace as Paul talks about in Romans, but understanding this true identity is key.
The weight that is lifted off is not just the performance based or transactional thinking that we have but it changes our mindset as well.
No longer do I have to labor under the weight of my own sin. It’s already covered by the grace. Therefore, it has not bound me any longer in any sense of the guilt that comes with doing it. I can ask for forgiveness and move on. When sin ceases to become a big deal — like a weight that drags you down — your mindset completely shifts. You don’t have to be a slave to it any longer. You can more easily put it aside. The Goliaths are slain with a stone to the face because of the grace and mercy of the Father.
I don’t have to prove my worth to the Father by keeping the law or stopping from sinning because I am covered by His grace and mercy. This mindset changes how you think and leads you not to abuse the grace and mercy but lifts off the burdens in order to allow you to live in the freedom of Christ. This is what Jesus means by his statement that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Yet, it is so easy to fall back into the mindset of Old Covenant thinking.
So the topic I want to address now is how does this apply to us as Christians?
I’m not sure how the Catholics or Orthodox view it, but my understanding of general Protestant denominations is that Jesus tore down the veil so that we can have a “personal relationship” with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Specifically, I’ll provide one of the examples where I had a revelatory moment of the love of the Father. It was a couple months ago that I started digging deeper on the lack of joy and peace post. As I explain in the revelation section, our perception of God the Father is limited by the unveiling of His Word in our lives.
Over the past couple months, one of the true revelatory moments for me was going way back into my childhood. I’m not an easily offendable type of person, so forgiveness is pretty easy for me. Likewise, if I know where I have sinned it’s easy for me to come to the Father and admit my sin. However, there are parts of the “relationship” that are missing more than just forgiving and admitting/confessing sin and repenting.
Personally, I realized that while I was eager to talk to the Father and thank Him for my successes in career, hobbies, or other areas of life, I was extremely hesistant to pray to Him about that which I felt was “off” or “wrong” especially when it was not sin. There was a sense that as a man I had to suck up things and deal with them myself rather than taking everything to the Father because He knows all and He cares for me and you.
Thus, it was in those moments that I started to take everything in my childhood that I felt like was my burden to carry as myself as a man. I gave to Him all of my thoughts both positive and negative. I gave to Him all of my feelings both positive and negative. I poured out my heart to Him on the level that I never would have for a human.
Now if you’re a non-Christian, if such a thing is solely a psychologically cathartic experience in itself is readily applicable explanation. I believe that part of it is like that. But overall, the fact that the Father does know and He does care when you pray to Him in this manner is freeing.
Example of David
I think David is the most illuminating example of the Scriptures of this. The Psalms are a conglomeration of poetry, songs, and prophecies all mixed into one.
David cries out to the Father as though he is speaking directly to Him in everything. The victories and defeats. The exhilaration and depression. The joy and the sorrow. The anger and patience. The mercy and justice. The righteousness and unrighteousness.
Many of these Psalms were sung in the tabernacle and thus made public before the whole nation. Imagine having Psalm 51 which was written after He committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed broadcasted before the nation?
My main point is this.
If you want to go beyond the surface with the Father and truly understand His love for you then you have to allow yourself to be completely vulnerable with Him. He alreadys knows all, and sees all, and understands you better than you know yourself. But it takes two to have that relationship.
Personally, it’s from this place of intimacy and personal relationship with the Father that He’s begun to show me what I started talking about in Behavioral Cycles and Identity:
The primary question that growing in the love of the Father is this… how do you love someone that is your enemy? Maybe even someone that claims to be a Christian but doesn’t read the Scriptures or blatantly ignores them?
When I look at a single mom how can I feel mercy and compassion for them rather than revulsion and judgment?
When I look at the brokenness of divorce on families, how can I see that both the divorced and the divorcee are both hurting and that both need the Father? Sure, one may shoulder more “blame” and “responsibility” but they are both in need of the Father. Christ died for both of them.
How can I stamp out any bitterness, anger, resentment, and the like out of myself and learn to love?
The goal is not to hate them or even yourself when you sin, but to help them turn back to the Father in their sin. To help them become the prodigal son, and eradicating the mindset of lies that still exist within ourselves as Christians.
Overall, I believe that this is the direction that this blog will be headed as that was my original intent: To become more like Christ which should prepare me for marriage and all that it entails.
At the core of Christianity is the relationship with the Father, and it’s out of the outflow of this relationship that we learn to love and interact with others. Having a much clearer understanding of these concepts has allowed me to make incredible progress in the development of relationships (not just romantic ones) because of the confidence and compassion that is brought from them.
Knowing that the Father knows you and is well pleased with you is big. But knowing that you can come to Him with anything is one of the first steps that takes you down the road to becoming a Christian who is unashamed, bold, and confident in who you are in Christ. If you could easily go up to anyone and talk to them about Jesus then how easy is it to be confident with women.
It’s not often about what you say but how you say it and do it.
I will be continuing this series with my next posts. Stay tuned.