Just a thought - perhaps you'll notice that right now I only have time to whack hornets nests and then saunter away whistling...
Emma's writing some fascinating stuff about identity and gender. (The photo alone makes the post unmissable!) But as Emma and I have read and listened to lots of Christian counsel on identity it's struck us how commonly "Christian identity" becomes the idol. Emma shows me women's devotional after women's devotional where there's a kind of good cop, bad cop approach. One day you should really get your act together and become a woman of substance/humility/excellence/gentleness/boldness/baking, etc. The next, while you're still reeling, you're reminded how swell Jesus thinks you are and how you really, really, really must learn to rest in that.
Now here's something weird, 'learning how to rest in God's affirmation of me' is experienced by women worldwide as more burdensome than the admonishments to 'godliness'. Why? Well, here's a guess - because whether your devotional is on a carrot day or a stick day it's basically about you! Can you look within and find enough strength to be godly or enough peace to be content?! Argh!
But that's the way it seems to run. And when it comes to 'identity' all these preachers/writers/counsellors spend their time discussing the value put on the Christian - "God's princess", "In His image", "Precious in His sight", etc, etc. Of course they have verses to back them up. But it's just proof-texting. It's not feeding on Christ Himself, looking to Him. It's just grabbing a sweet verse from Psalms today to help yesterday's medicine from Proverbs 31 go down.
So what's wrong with all this.
Well, first of all, when this search for identity becomes the goal rather than simply the fruit of our union with Christ, it's using Jesus to feel better about me. So that's a bit sick. Think of it this way, you might like the way your spouse makes you feel, and that's a nice fringe benefit of the relationship. But if your goal in marriage is to get that feeling, you're an emotional gold-digger!
But, secondly, psychologically, it just doesn't work. Maybe I'm wrong - contradict me in the comments. But have you ever met someone who's found a rock-solid, contented sense of Christian identity by searching for "identity"? I haven't. And I think it's because it's psychologically impossible.
It's unconvincing when you repeat human affirmations to yourself "You're good enough, you're smart enough and doggonnit, people like you." But, psychologically speaking, it's rarely any more re-assuring when you mentally sign God's name to the bottom of them.
Why? Many reasons, but perhaps mainly because we imagine God's basically like us anyway. And without really opening up the word of Christ we're never going to dethrone the God of our imaginations who - surprise, surprise - thinks of us just like we think of ourselves. So signing His name to the bottom of some lovely sentiments only adds to the sense that this is basically wish-fulfillment.
Want a good sense of self? Forget self. You were crucified with Christ. You no longer live. But Christ lives in you. The life you live in the body you live depending on Jesus who loved you and gave Himself for you.
I love the little motto on Todd Wilken's Issues, etc radio show - "It's not about you, it's about Jesus for you."
Notice it doesn't say "It's not about you, it's about Jesus." (That's also an error! More on that another time).
But it is about "Jesus for you"
Forget the proof-texting carrots and sticks. Go deep with Him and you'll know you. Don't get hung up on you. Don't even get hung up on heavenly verdicts on you. Jesus is your status before God. He Himself. If you want to know your status, know Jesus. If you want to know you, forget you for a bit. Get to know Him. Not as an emotional gold-digger, but know Him for His sake. Lose yourself in Him, and you'll find yourself.