Admit it, we are all “identity maniacs.” Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are constantly asking questions about we relate to the world around us. How many different ways can we ask the questions, “who am I?” or “why am I here?”
One of the ways we ask and answer those questions is in what we own and consume. Right now, I’m sipping on designer coffee, typing on a Mac, and wearing a shirt shamelessly brandishing my allegiance to a certain academic institution. These things help define who I am. Yes, I love coffee, and Macs, and knowing (thinking) that my alma mater is better than yours. If you told me I couldn’t drink coffee anymore, I would rebel. Ask me to stop using my iPhone? Get away from me. If I’m honest, taking away any of these things will make me scream injustice at the sky. No God, not my Mac! It’s part of “me.”
This is where the “good” Christian will jump in and triumphantly say, “No, Krin, your identity is in Jesus!” Granted, fellow follower, but hold on. We need to understand not only that we need a savior, but also why we are much more than a random collocation of atoms, even before we know the Risen One. What makes a human intrinsically valuable beyond his designer coffees and premium electronics?
Commenting on human identity, a friend recently told me to live in between these two Biblical truths:
“You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” –Psalm 8:5
“…for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” –Genesis 3:19
The heart of human identity lies in this tension. You and I are evil; we missed the mark. But we are so much more than dust. The image of the living God is on you. That is why you matter, why this life is real, and why Jesus said to give back to God what is his.
Realize how broken you are, but also how beautiful is the one who made you in his image and died for you. In that tension we will find forgiveness, grace, and life everlasting.
That’s a tension worth living in.