This week in our series, Got Questions, we looked at the question Why do Christians hate LGBTIQA+ People and is God Anti-Gay? In answering this question during the talk, we heard the issue we all face is in finding our identity in our sexuality or anything else other than God. I don’t think this is something anyone is immune to. It is definitely something I have personally struggled with over the years and something I have been working on and reading about this year.
Talking about identity, and the part sexuality plays in what it means to be human, or how we answer the question ‘who am I’ is a reasonably modern thing. Until the decline of belief in God in the western world, people just accepted that the answer to ‘who am I’ was a given; you were a person made in the image of God, and placed in a community. Now, there’s lots of good things about not being defined by the job your family has always done or the economic and educational standard this set, but the western world is also pushing God from the picture and as such we are now struggling to answer the question ‘who am I’. This struggle has meant that people have turned to other ‘gods’ and our quest for identity is now driven by desires that replace God. Our desires and behaviours are now constructing our identities instead of our identities impacting our behaviours and desires.
So why is it important to find our identity in Christ? When we find our identity in Christ, it shapes the way we love others and shapes our desires. When we are finding our identity in anyone or anything other than Christ we will never be satisfied and this will lead to others and ourselves being hurt. Our identity often shapes our actions although we are seeing that people are now constructing their identities from their desires and behaviours. Where we are finding our identity shapes the way we love others. If we are finding our identity in our relationships they will never fully satisfy us and we will want more and more from them. That is hurtful to the other person. It is unrealistic expectations to put on someone your need to be fulfilled. In my experiences when I have been focusing on relationships and putting a particular person in the place of God it hasn’t turned out well. I’ve been deeply hurt when they haven’t met my expectations or fulfilled the needs I have. It isn’t their fault but it has hurt the both of us because it has broken the relationship we had. Relationships only work well when our identity is found in Christ and our deep needs are satisfied in him and as such we can love and be loved by others without the expectations of needing to be fulfilled by that relationship.
So how do we find our identity in Christ? In looking to his promises written in his word, the Bible, we can see how God sees us and the actions he has taken to redeem us to himself. We can know who God made us and called us to be when we look to the Bible. Some of the passages I love to look to are:
Genesis 1:27- So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Ephesians 1:4-5- For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.
1 John 3:1-2 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Galatians 3:13-14- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
There are many other passages we could look to in order to be reminded of the truths of our identity in Christ but I thought we could start with these ones. God created us in his image and chose us to be his children who are dearly loved by a God who sent his son to die to redeem us. God hasn’t left us alone to work out our identity in him but has left us with his Spirit to work in and through us until we are once again at home with him.
It isn’t easy, living in this world with the effects of sin around us every day, to live out our identity in Christ. It is a daily, and even hourly, choice to let God be the centre of your identity and let everything else you do and love be shaped by your identity in Christ. Here at church we often use these two helpful images so show how this might look (see below). If we are focused on us and everything is shaped by our desires they can become dangerous and hurtful but if our identity is shaped by Christ and his death & resurrection then we can enjoy everything else in its right place.