Friday, May 16, 2008

Where is my identity coming from?

Tim Keller in his book, called THE REASON FOR GOD, makes some good points on how people get their identity. He shows the false ways of doing this and the correct ways. These really spoke to me because of different things I am facing. I have to examine my heart to see what I am basing my identity on--health , family, relationships, etc--they will fail in establishing my identity. Here are some of his points:

“Everyone gets their identity, their sense of being distinct and valuable, from somewhere or something.”

“In more traditional cultures, the sense of worth and identity comes from fulfilling duties to family and giving service to society. In our contemporary individualistic culture, we tend to look to our achievements, our social status, our talents, or our love relationships. There are an infinite variety of identity bases. Some get their sense of ‘self’ from gaining and wielding power, others from human approval, others from self-discipline and control. But everyone is building their identity on something.”

“Identity apart from God is inherently unstable.” “Kierkegaard asserts that human beings were made not only to believe in God in some general way, but to love him supremely, center their lives on him above anything else, and build their very identities on him. Anything other than this is sin.”

“…sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God.”

“Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’” He points out that when we do this it sets the “stage for continual disappointment. Everything else that we try to base our identity on will at some point fail. When anything threatens our identity it will make us anxious and can even cause us to be paralyzed with fear. “An identity not based on God also leads inevitably to deep forms of addiction. When we turn good things into ultimate things, we are, as it were, spiritually addicted. If we take our meaning in life from our family, our work, a cause, or some achievement other than God, they enslave us…….As in all addiction, we are in denial about the degree to which we are controlled by our god-substitutes.”

“A life not centered on God leads to emptiness.”

So he concludes, “Sin is not simply doing bad things, it is putting good things in the place of God [even our pet doctrines he mentions]. So the only solution is not simply to change our behavior, but to reorient and center the entire heart and life on God.”

He asks, “Does that scare you? Does it sound stifling? Remember this—if you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else.”

“If Jesus is your center and Lord and you fail him, he will forgive you. Your career can’t die for your sins. You might say, ‘If I were a Christian I’d be going around pursued by Guilt all the time!’ But we all are being pursued by guilt because we must have an identity and there must be some standard to live up to by which we get that identity. Whatever you base your life on—you, have to live up to that. Jesus is the one Lord you can live for who died for you—who breathed his last breath for you. Does that sound oppressive?”

“If Jesus is the Creator-Lord, then by definition nothing could satisfy you like he can, even if you are successful. Even the most successful careers and families cannot give the significance, security, and affirmation that the author of glory and love can.”

“Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something is becomes ‘Lord of your life,’ whether you think of it that way or not. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.”


  1. Very truthful and helpful post. What an encouragement. As someone who stuggles with my personal dissapointments due to my infertility I've become acutely aware that one's value before God isn't based on procreation and how well I run my home. Yes, I'd love to live all that, but it's a blessing from God, not a right. I still hope that He'll give it to me in His time. But I struggle with my identity because of this. I had spent so many years wondering and planning how I'd parent, and now I begin to wonder if I was wasting my time. I know I wasn't, it helps me with being an aunt and God=Mother, but still, I don't see myself using those skills day in and day out like I had envisioned by now. And to this my growing list of medical issues and I feel like God has changed my direction in life more so then I can figure out, but what I have to keep reminding myself is that it's His will for my life I need to center myself on, not my own. This post was a good reminder to me of this today.

    Thank you

  2. This is so true. Our society today is so messed up with our values. Our kids have these sport star or Hollywood role models who are on drugs and living so recklessly. We need to raise them in the Word to live Godly lives.

    Have a good weekend!

  3. Great Post! It has been awhile, so I pray that you and your family are doing well. We are getting close to having Charlotte. She is due the beginning of July! I can hardly wait! We have a 4D ultrasound tomorrow...I will post pictures on my blog!

    God Bless
    Crystal <>< (SAHM)

  4. so many truths in this post...
    there are so many things wrong with society today, but we need to keep our focus on God, and strive to live in His will, now ours...
    good post