Who am I?
In my high school, back in the 1970’s, all the cool kids wore athletic letter jackets proclaiming the name of our school and the sport they played. I desperately wanted a letter jacket, because I desperately needed to be cool.
The problem was I was small for my age and not very good at sports. A varsity letter in football or basketball was out of the question for me. However, the sport of wrestling is separated into weight divisions. As a wrestler, I would only compete against kids my size. This was something I was sure I could do. So, I decided to go out for the wrestling team.
I hate wrestling. I had wrestled before in a previous school and I didn’t think it was any fun at all. I dreaded the thought of constant dieting and rolling around on a rubber mat tied up in knots with some sweaty kid I didn’t know. Nevertheless, I knew I needed a varsity letter to justify my existence, so I made plans to join the team.
The morning of tryouts, I sat in my bedroom waiting for the school bus, dreading the thought of wrestling practice. I opened my Bible and happened to read a passage in the New Testament that told me that, as a Christian, my identity was found in Christ – not in what I do, not in what I accomplish, not in what other people think of me. My identity is Christ.
It’s hard to describe how much joy I felt in that moment. I didn’t need to succeed in a sport I don’t enjoy just to prove to the world that I had worth. I had worth in God’s eyes no matter what anyone else ever thought. I decided then and there not to go out for wrestling and I’ve never regretted it for a moment.
In Galatians 3:26-29, the Apostle Paul was writing to some early Gentile Christians who felt compelled to prove their worth by keeping the customs of the Jewish law. They had been told by false teachers that, as Gentiles, they didn’t really measure up. Paul told them that their identity is in Christ, not what others say or think about them. He wrote, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” They needed nothing more to prove their worth to the world. They belonged to Christ, and that was all that mattered.
Are you finding your identity in Christ? Many people in New York (even many Christians) seem driven to prove their worth to the world. They feel that they must succeed at their jobs, excel in their art, own their own home, have a great body, raise perfect kids, etc. They dare not fall short of these goals – their identity is on the line.
What a joy to be told that, as believers, our identity is in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we are Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. It doesn’t matter if we went to community college or an Ivy League school. It doesn’t matter if we are married or single. It doesn’t matter if we are an immigrant or native born. It doesn’t matter if we live in a luxury condo or in Section 8 housing. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”