This is a letter from my friend, Dr. Jenny McGill, to you about identity. Jenny’s brand new book, Walk With Me: Learning to Love and Follow Jesus was just released last month. Check it out here on Amazon after you read her beautiful words to you below.
Dear Believer in Jesus,
Becoming a Christian changes who you are (2 Corinthians 5:17). Like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, you are reborn. Your sense of identity becomes subject to your identity in Christ (Galatians 2:20). This rupture involves a departing and binding, exchanging and adopting, distancing and embracing, an altering and preserving of who you thought you were. Each conception you hold of yourself must be re-evaluated in light of your new identity (Romans 6:1–7, 20–22; 1 Corinthians 6:9–12).
Who we were is not lost but redeemed.
Our individuality is not abandoned, as if erased, but not everything with which we identify is godly. Being remade into the likeness of Christ requires you to be someone who you were not (Romans 12:1–2; Ephesians 4:23–24; Colossians 3: 9–10; 1 John 3:3). Some of your previous opinions about yourself will be proved true while other self-identifications, once thought precious, will be disrupted (1 Corinthians 3:9–15; 13:12; 1 John 2:17; 3:2). One’s transformation as a believer in Christ means a reordering of one’s identities.
You do not know who you are or who you should be.
Why? Because we were born into this world divided in our bodies and psyches. That we are born broken (sinful) is called “original sin.” Not all of our desires are pure because sin corrupted our desires, plus we are easily deceived. Sin has darkened and disoriented our human understanding, yet, in our arrogance, we give ourselves too much credit! Humanity lost its true identity since the first couple in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Most of what we know is a regurgitation of whatever cultural messages were drilled into our minds through various media and entertainment. Learning to love and follow Christ—that is, becoming his disciple—is the remaking of our identity, and God gave us the Spirit, the church, and the Bible to guide us.
We question cultural messages (whether common or “Christian”), reconciling them with what God has already said about our identity in Christ. Read Romans 12:1–2, Galatians 3:27, and Colossians 3:9–10 again. As an example, identifying with a certain ethnic group is not necessarily sinful. Prioritizing it over your common identity with others in Christ is. Dressing ourselves in identity is a great image. Humanly defined identities are optional. They are changeable. As the verses say, think about being covered in Christ rather than anything else as you get dressed in the morning. Who you are is who you are in Christ. That’s your truest identity.
You first came to Christ because you were convicted that you were not right and wanted to change. Now be very brave and let God re-form you.
About the Author
Jenny McGill (PhD, King’s College London) serves as a dean for Indiana Wesleyan University and an adjunct faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary. A pastor’s wife, she has experienced ministry overseas, in a megachurch, a church plant, and now middle America. She most loves discipling women eager to follow Christ. Connect with her at www.jennymcgill.com and @drjennymcgill.
Buy Jenny McGill’s new book, “Walk With Me” here on Amazon. (**Affiliate link.)