Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I?” Or how about this: “What am I supposed to be when I grow up?” These questions are always in the mix during conversations about identity. In fact, they’re regarded as the two fundamental existential questions of life, and they often cause a lot of heartache and late-night pondering. To completely hone in on our identity, we must answer both questions—not just one of them. You see, it’s the “Who am I?” question combined with the “What do I do on this earth?” question that reveals a more balanced look at our identities.
However, these questions are easy to complicate. I’ll prove it by asking you this trick question: “Who is Robert Morris?” If you’re like me, you’d say he is Gateway’s founding senior pastor. But there’s a problem with this answer—it’s incomplete. It only answers the second fundamental existential question (“What am I supposed to contribute to the world?”). The original question is still unanswered.
I asked who he is, but our tendency is to answer what he does. See the difference? Tricky, right?
I don’t believe we can answer the “who” question without talking about relationships. To understand who Robert Morris is, you would have to tell me about his parents, siblings, wife, and children. Then I would have a context for his relationships and would understand to whom he belongs. This belonging would help me more clearly understand who he is. This helps me understand his identity better than simply knowing what he does.
And while we’re talking about his relationships, here’s another important one to consider—his relationship with Jesus. Telling me about his earthly relationships only answers half of the “who is he” question. I also need to know about his relationship with Jesus to fully understand his identity because when Jesus enters the picture, everything changes. Literally—everything changes.
Our relationship with Jesus powerfully influences our identities because in Jesus we are new! Not reformed, refurbished, converted, or changed—we are simply and totally new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
In our old lives, we thought and acted a particular way and belonged (spiritually) to a particular entity. But when Jesus entered the picture, we became new. So as a result, we began to think and act a new way, and we belong to a new person—God. In 1 Corinthians 3:23 we read, “You are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.”
This means when Jesus steps into our lives, He changes the answers to our two fundamental identity questions. In fact, we need this new set of questions to explore our new identities:
• Who am I in Christ?
• Who is Christ in me?
Our truest and most powerful identity is hidden in the answers to these questions. Who I am is now framed most strongly by the One to whom I belong. I am no longer who I was. I am now who He says I am. The more I understand Jesus, the more I understand me.
But is doesn’t end there. When I ask myself who Christ is in me, I discover all Jesus has done to set me up for the strongest contribution to the world. Jesus not only radically alters my belonging, but His power and presence in me now physically affect what I am capable of. His presence awakens spiritual gifts that give me a strong contributing edge I never had before. His passion for people awakens my passions, which give me fuel to pursue what matters to Him. His gifts in me are present from birth and provide me with natural talent that sets me up for success and gives me rewards and joy when I use them.
In short, because of the entrance of Jesus, my entire identity is changed. Who I am is changed, and what I contribute to the world is changed—both for the better.
Here are some questions to further consider about your identity:
1. Do you know who you are?
2. What is your strongest contribution to the world?
3. Does your current life reflect your changed identity?
4. To whom do you belong?
5. Have you explored all that Jesus has gifted to you in spiritual and physical talent?