Giving Up Who We
We are told to take pride in who we are, in our identity. We’re encouraged to remain true to ourselves, and so we resent it when others pressure us into changing some aspect of our core identity. In fact, the world tells us – and we have become convinced – that such efforts are about control. And sometimes that’s exactly what it’s about.
But not necessarily.
You see, as hard as it is for us to accept, sometimes who we are is not who we need to be, which means that change is sometimes needful. This is true in the real world, but it’s also true within Christianity.
Christianity is about change. More specifically, when we commit our lives to Christ, we are agreeing to give up who we are, in one sense, to become who God wants us to be. Jesus tells us to deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24), and Paul tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of [our minds]” (Rom. 12:2). And I really like this testimony of the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20…
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
When we tell people to be true to themselves and to follow their dreams, without qualification, I’m afraid that we’re sending a dangerous message. Shouldn’t we be true to Christ instead? And shouldn’t we be pursuing God’s plan and purpose for our lives?
Maybe you’re thinking that these two are not mutually exclusive. We can be true to ourselves AND to Christ; we can have our own dreams while also pursuing God’s plan and purpose. To some extent, this is true, but only to the extent that our identity and our goals are subservient to the will of God.
This doesn’t mean that if you like sports, you have to stop liking sports. If you’re an environmentalist, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your passion for the environment. If you’re an artist who likes to wear skinny jeans or a cowboy who prefers a good pair of Wranglers and cowboy boots, the point isn’t necessarily that you must start wearing some kind of Christian costume. This isn’t about how you do your hair or what kind of music you listen to.
What we’re talking about here is attitude. It’s an attitude of total, unwavering self-sacrifice. It’s about not being insulted at the mere mention that we may have to change who we are. It’s about not feeling resentful when the gospel convicts us of changes we do have to make. It’s about having such trust in God’s wisdom and His plan for us, and loving Him so much because of everything He’s done for us, that we’re willing to do anything, to give up anything, to change anything to please Him and glorify Him. That’s the attitude we need to have.
If this giving up of self insults and angers you to your core, then the fact is, you do not yet understand biblical Christianity. And that’s fine, so long as you recognize the conflict between your desires and the Scriptures, and you’re willing to be challenged, to fight the battle, to press on.
I’ll close with this…
God made you. You are His.
And yet the world and sin have stolen you from God and redefined you, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Oftentimes, who we are is who the world has trained us to be.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
By Casey Head
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