Part 3 of this series on identity left off with me, a new follower of Christ, still very much struggling with identity issues. I knew that God loved me, but had no confidence that he took any pleasure in me. This made for a real emotional roller coaster…alternating between desperate attempts to gain his approval and despairing slumps of apathy.
You may be tempted to suggest that I didn’t understand the cross, that I was trying to earn grace by being good enough. On the contrary, I was keenly aware that I had done nothing (could do nothing) to effect my own salvation. That was part of the problem.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jesus gave his life to pay the debt of my sins because he gave his life to pay the debt of everyone’s sins. He offered salvation to all who would believe. I was included among the redeemed because I had accepted this great gift. Yes, it was an act of unimaginable sacrifice and extravagant love, but this was in keeping with his flawless character. He is love. He is just. He is gracious and merciful. This extension of grace meant nothing about his regard for me as an individual. I had no reason to believe that God saw anything particularly valuable or attractive in me.
Both in the pages of the Bible and within contemporary Christianity, I saw examples of faith, passion, and boldness that I didn’t even come close to competing with. I worked at offering my heart and life to Christ, but did he really want it—on anything other than principle?
I knew I was supposed to find my “identity in Christ.” I knew I was “God’s daughter” and a “princess of the King.” But these cute phrases and titles had little practical meaning for me. Such concepts were universal to all believers and described legal position, not honest-to-goodness relationship. What did that have to do with my personal worth in God’s eyes?
I came to the conclusion that all of my desires to be individually noticed and appreciated by God amounted to nothing more than selfishness and pride. This, of course made me feel even more wretched. And maybe that’s just what I needed—to recognize and embrace my insignificance. Perhaps I just needed a good old fashioned dose of humility. That would put me on the right spiritual track.
But then I ran into another problem—what exactly was humility, and how did one go about getting it?
I’ll share more on that in part 5, but in the meantime, I welcome your responses.