“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
For years, I put three small words on the back of my bank and credit cards: Please See I.D. I was trying to protect against theft and fraud, hoping that the cashier or server would make sure that the person using the card was who they said they were. I’ve had many different identifications over the years: new driver, college student, world traveler (almost), employee, Pennsylvania resident, etc. When you first meet someone, how do you introduce yourself? “I’m so-and-so’s son or daughter;” or, “I’m so-and-so’s mom.” Maybe you tell them where you work, or, like friends of mine who recently married, you may say, “I’m Mrs. or Mr.” Centuries ago, the early church were also given an identity, and it is one we can all share: “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26b).
“He didn’t die on the cross to sympathize with us, but to identify with us.” I heard those words on a recent Focus on the Family broadcast, and they just keep echoing in my head. God, the creator of the universe, chose to identify with me. I have been thinking of my friends who have suffered through miscarriages and the loss of children. He came and identified with their grief. (“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he was put to grief.”) My heart has been burdened for those struggling with bondage and addictions. He came and identified with their chains. (“[H]e has sent me to . . . proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”)* To those who have suffered from being forgotten, rejected, and abused, He came and identified with their sorrow and loneliness. (“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows . . . and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised.”) He came to identify with the broken. (“But he was wounded . . . he was crushed.”) He came to identify with the empty. (“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied . . . because he poured out his soul to death.”) And for me, oh for me, He came to identify with my shame. (“[H]e shall bear their iniquities.”)**
When I was married at the young age of 19, I was eager to fill out the paperwork and wait in the lines to have my name changed. I had a new identity, and I wanted everyone to know it! Even now, if you look on the cover of my favorite Bible, you will see in beautifully scripted letters “Mrs. Drakulic.” I am proud to be his wife. Even more, I stand in awe of my identity in Christ. I am called His “workmanship,” (Ephesians 2:10), chosen to be a “holy priesthood” (1Peter 2:4-5), and adopted to be a “child of God” (1 John 3:1).
Recently as I read the Word, I have endeavored to answer the question “who are You, Lord?” I had realized that I know so little of God’s character and who He really is. How important it is for me to know the God I worship and serve! Not only that, when I know Him more, I understand better who I am called to be. No longer am I identified by my shame and pain; those things have died. I will now (and every day to come) put on Christ—a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, a forgiving spirit, and most of all, love (see Colossians 3).
How do you identify yourself? Where do you find yourself today? Are you grieving? Are you trapped in a devastating cycle of sin? Are you living in the hurts of your past? Is your life defined by the things you possess or by the people you serve? Are you ready to trade in the pain of this world for the glory of heaven? Will today be the day you identify with Christ and be called a Christian? When someone asks to see your I.D., I hope you can point them to the cross.
“Having this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness [identity] of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8 (emphasis added)
*See Isaiah 61:1
**For all other scripture references mentioned here, see Isaiah 53.