“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” — Ephesians 4:1-4.
How do you define yourself? A lot of people use their job description as a self-description. “I am a firemen,” or “I am a physical therapist.” Other people use their success, bank account or resume to define them. “I graduated from Yale” or “I have just been named a partner in my firm.” Still others use their belief system: “I am a Christian, or “I am am agnostic” or “I am on the fence.”
But what Paul tells the church in Ephesus is true for us as well: If you are a Christian, the truest thing about you is that you are in Christ. There may be a lot of true things about you, but the truest thing about you, the lens through which you see everything else, your identity, should come from who you are in Christ. In Collateral Beauty, Howard cannot find the answers he seeks, nor can his friends, so he questions his identity and his future. Howard doesn’t know where to turn or what to do.
Paul gives us the answer to who we are in Christ, and then tells us what our lives should look like. He gives us the answer to who we are and what we are to do. We are those who belong to Jesus. In Ephesians 4:1-4, Paul talks about what our lives should look like because we are in Christ. He is talking about behavior and that our identity results from our behavior. Our identity in Christ is who we are. In other words, the term Christian should not just be a title. It is to be your identification, just like your name. Being a follower of Christ is the essence of who you are.
Our identity in Christ impacts how we treat people. We need to remind ourselves periodically who we are in Christ and what Christ has done for each of us on the cross.
Our identity in Christ should make us imitate God in all we do. “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1) The question is, what should we be doing differently if we lived out this identity.
- In what ways does your identity in Christ shape your behavior, decisions, actions toward others, and relationships. Be specific.
- In what ways is your behavior not matching up with your true identity in Christ? What steps can you take to “validate” your identity?