We are obsessed with identity. We crave to understand ourselves and know what place we have in this world. Because of this, we go on journeys of self-discovery and even work to create new identities. But identity is not something that is far lost or yet to be built. It doesn’t even depend on our own abilities or decisions. The truth of our identities is plainly laid out in the Bible. We either find ourselves in Christ or we don’t. If it really is that simple then why do we try to find our identities within ourselves or in the world? Our dissatisfaction with our identity in Jesus Christ lies in our denial of what that reveals to us about ourselves. If we have to admit who we are in him, we also have to admit who we are without him.
Outside of the life of Christ and the love of God we are sinners. We are shameful, broken, selfish, prideful to our core. So, instead, we work to search for or create better identities. No one enjoys spotlighting our most shameful selves. So we run and hide and pretend. But deep down we hopelessly desire to be accepted for those true selves, our darkest selves. The question is can God receive and accept us for who we are? The answer: No. But this is why Christ’s atonement is so crucial. He takes our true selves, every sin, all of our shame, and covers it in his redemptive blood, making us acceptable and holy.
So, how do we embrace our true identities?
Let’s not shy from the truth of who we are as human beings; fragile, fleshly, depraved. Remember that the truth shall set us free. When we embrace that truth we are able to see who we are in Christ. Our identities are made known in who God declares himself to be. So then the solution is not to go searching for our identities but looking to Jesus’.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements that are metaphors declaring the truth of his identity. Every statement he lays out about himself is followed by a statement of what that means for those who are in him. When we focus on who God says he is, the truth of who we are in him satisfies our souls and long desire to know and understand our identity.
I Am the Bread of Life
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
I Am the Light of the World
“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
I Am the Door of the Sheep
“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:7-10
I Am the Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…”
I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
I Am the True Vine
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5