Of course you have a physical identity –we just looked at a few of them. They are based on occupational titles or relationships with others. And you have proof of those identities contained in your wallet, the baby stroller you are pushing, the bills you owe, or the ring on your hand.
As a Christian you also have a spiritual identity. With that being said, do you have a problem living up to what God expects of you in your daily life? I did, and what a frustrating life it was. (We’ll get to what changed as we go on.) No matter how hard any of us try to do what the Scriptures say, the Christian walk continues to be impossible. Its demands are clear: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love one another as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” How much did He love the church? You know the passage below from 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
We are challenged regularly to love others like He loves us and to do it consistently. Some of the things we’re supposed to keep in mind are “Don’t let the sun go down on our anger,” “Submit to and respect your spouse” and “Obey your parents.” The list seems endless –not to mention impossible to live out.
Not only are we “encouraged” to love others like Jesus loves, we are also “encouraged” to live a holy life! I say “encouraged,” but the context in which these passages are typically presented, we’re guilt driven to live by them.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
There is no way to measure up to these, regardless of all the “striving” and “denying self” that we can do. A person’s outer appearances might look like he’s a good Christian –even demonstrating those attributes of 1 Corinthians 13 love, but on the inside there is a totally different life. I’ve been told (by a very few) that I’m a great person and good influence on them. I wish they could see the inner battles going on to keep up those “good appearances.”
The good news is that God doesn’t expect His children to live a life of striving to be acceptable in His eyes. He has provided something inexpressibly better for us.