“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalms 139: 14-15.

The truth is that we define ourselves in relation to something or someone else. As a child, we define ourselves in relation to our parents and extended family. As we grow older and enter the workforce, we began defining ourselves by what we do. Many people believe that our vocation in life defines us. When we meet someone, the first question we ask is “what do you do?” When I tell people that I am a pastor they immediately make some assumptions about me. We can also define ourselves by where we live. And don’t forget about our vices. These are the things we try our hardest to hide from those around us and the outside world. Ironically, these are often the things that consume us the most. You can be defined by your religion. Our religion defines and identifies us in terms of who we will serve and worship. The list of things that we use to define ourselves can go on and on. All these things determine who we say we are, who we think we are and who the world perceives us to be.

So who are we and how do we define ourselves? There is only one possible basic answer, Jesus. The early believers at Antioch were called Christians. “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The early believers were called Christians, because Jesus Christ was clearly at the heart of who they were and what they did.

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that Christ “…chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” In Ephesians 1:13 Paul adds that “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Once we have believed in Christ, our labels from the world become invalid. We are now a child of God. Being a child of God gives us the opportunity to understand the identity of those around us, to see beyond the skin colors and the dollar signs, the skills, or education and to see people for who they truly are. “In Christ” means all can come, leaving behind their sins, and join together to be identified once and for all as children of God. This is why our identity is found in our Savior, not in other peoples perception of us.

In 2016, my prayer is that you discover who God created you to be and what plan He created you to fulfill. This discovery of you should shape the way your view yourself and shape and influence the decisions you make in the new year. It doesn’t really matter how others view or define you when God is transforming you into His image.    

Discussion Questions:

  1. What areas of your life defined you in 2015? How would you like to be defined in 2016?
  2. If you were completely honest, would you say you are more bored or exhilarated with your life as a Christian? What do you need to change to be more exhilarated in 2016?
  3. If we became more familiar with God’s character, how would that help how we define ourselves?