For a long time I’ve been thinking about the meaning of identity. This began when I heard about identity theft where many people are afraid that an unscrupulous person will try to steal their money by pretending to be them. I can only guess how such a thief would go about it, but I know it happens.
It’s made me ponder what our identity really is. It’s a vast topic! As a Christian, I have a God-given identity that can’t be stolen: the Person of Jesus Christ who lives his life in me. God takes that into account when he deals with me; nobody else can appropriate it. He owns the world and all that’s in it; his resources far outstrip those of every thief on earth. They include gifts and compassion, love and faithfulness, patience and many other good things, as well as financial provision. We can access them at any time and they are never depleted! Jesus doesn’t change, he’s always totally himself, so there’s a consistency that runs through us all when we are Christians.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church in the first century: Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital state, defines your life. – 1 Cor. 7: 17 ( The Message Bible)
Recently I read about the London Foundling Hospital. It now operates as the charity called Coram, named after the founder. In the early 18th Century, there were many women in that huge city who were unable to look after their children and this man worked tirelessly to establish a home for the little ones.
When the mothers brought their babies to the hospital (today we’d call it a home), none of their details were recorded. They were just asked to leave a token of their identity in case their circumstances changed and they were able to come back with the matching part of the token and claim their baby. Over 5000 of these articles have been discovered. They comprise pieces of ribbon, cards, fabric and even single sleeves from babies’ garments; anything the poverty-stricken mother could use. You can read about it here:
Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, said this: I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity is in him. He was talking about the DNA test that confirmed he was the son of the last Private Secretary of Winston Churchill, not the child of Gavin Welby, as he’d always presumed. I was interested to hear what he said about this and added it to my store of quotes about identity!
My husband discovered in his sixties that his parents hadn’t registered him at birth. He had no proof that he was whom he claimed to be! Did this mean he had no identity? Of course not. He eventually managed to locate enough evidence and was able to register himself! One of our sons joked, You’re born-again Dad, but born…?
Maurie also has a family member who didn’t find out until he was sixty-six that he was adopted as a baby. For all those years he thought he knew his family so it was a shock to be told otherwise. Our identity is precious and unique; to meddle with it can disturb our sense of being. It’s who we really are.
I’m glad that my eternal identity can never change or be wrenched from me. It even stays the same when we die. Saving money, buying goods, banking or investing while we’re alive will not do us any good after death. As they say, ‘You can’t take it with you!’
Jesus’ wise advice was this: Stockpile treasure in heaven where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. He said, It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place where you’ll most want to be, and end up being.
I wonder if God is building a heavenly ‘home’ for us, using the resources that we’ve sent on ahead. What do you think?