The Crisis Of Identity
A GOOD STORY, ONE FILLED WITH LOVE, WONDER, AND PROMISE; A STORY THAT INSPIRES, A STORY THAT ONE DAY OUR KIDS WILL WANT TO TELL THEIR KIDS, THAT IS MY LIFE’S AMBITION.
I would like to suggest it’s yours as well.
I believe a good story ends happily ever after. But the good stories, before they end “happily ever after,” they are faced with an antagonist and experience conflict and risk and sometimes even death…
As a storyteller, I love to study these good stories in order to understand what makes them good.
There is one thing that I’ve found is common in the good stories, the main character wrestles with the issue of identity, often even experiencing an identity crisis. In the good stories, the main character discovers their true identity and this is what leads to a happy ending.
Jesus lived the best story. His was full of wonder, and mercy, and love, and friendship. It was also a story with conflict and risk, even unto death.
Jesus story also dealt with the crisis of identity except, it wasn’t on His end. Jesus never doubted who He was, but those around Him certainly did. If you think about it, the question of His identity followed Him everywhere He went.
The good news about Jesus story? He knew who His Father was. He was perfectly sure in His Father’s love. Therefore Jesus was sure in His identity. He never fell victim to identity crisis.
Jesus story is so famously good that you have probably heard of it. It’s called the Good News, or “The Gospel.”
You see, because of Jesus story, because He lived sure in His identity, we can also become sure in ours…
Jesus was actually born into a crisis of identity. As far as public perception was concerned, His birth was a little sketchy. His inception was miraculous. He was born of a virgin. My Bible refers to Him as “God with us” (Matt 1:18) and as “The Son of God” (Luke 1:31). However, that part of my Bible was unavailable at the time of Jesus as it hadn’t been written yet.
Most likely, Jesus grew up with the stigma of “bastard.” Outside of a few shepherds and some Wise Men who knew the whole story, His birth appeared scandalous. He was born out of wedlock as Joseph waited until after His birth to “tie the knot.” But Jesus was not insecure. He knew His Fathers love and He who He was. He was sure in His identity.
We know this because of the one story of Jesus in His youth. When He was twelve, His family journeyed to Jerusalem. As they were heading home, His parents lost track of Him and for three days they searched the streets of Jerusalem. They finally found Him at the temple. When His mother asked Him where He had been He replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). Jesus was sure in His identity.
We don’t hear about Him again until He turns 30. The story is picked back up with Jesus baptism. The Bible says that when He came up out of the water, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. A dove descended and God spoke in a thunderous voice. And in case anyone was unsure, God, the Father, made it perfectly clear saying, “This is my Son, whom I love with him I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). At that moment it went public; Jesus was the Son of God. We heard it from an angel, we heard it from the child, and now we’ve heard from the mouth of God.
At this point, I would have expected Jesus to start His public ministry upon this proclamation, but instead, He is led by His Father into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1)
Forty days Jesus went without food or water. Three times Satan tempted Him and each time he went after Jesus’ identity.
“If you are the son of God,” he challenged. But Jesus knew His Fathers love. Jesus was sure in His identity.
If you keep reading the rest of Jesus story you will find that everywhere He went His identity was questioned and challenged; by the religious teachers, by entire towns, and by government officials. And while all this is happening, Jesus is living a good story of beauty and wonder. He is healing blind and def, lame and mute. He’s raising the dead and making lots of food out of little food. He’s walking on water and calming storms. He is releasing life to anyone who receives Him as He is – the Son of God. In fact, everything Jesus did confirmed He was Gods Son.
If the story of Jesus’ life had a battle, it was a daily fight for identity. If His story had an antagonist, it was doubt, better known as unbelief. And each time Jesus was confronted with the crisis of identity He chose to believe what His Father had said about Him from the very beginning. Jesus was sure in His identity.
Three years after Jesus’ baptism we read about how He rides into Jerusalem to a throng of worshipers. Finally, He is received by the people as He truly is – the King of Kings, love in human form, the Son of God. And for a moment we take a breath and smile… and then…
Jesus is betrayed.
Only three days after His triumphant arrival to Jerusalem He finds Himself bound and standing in front of the religious rulers. His identity is then officially and for the last time questioned. “Are you then the Son of God?” (Luke 22:70a) He is asked.
And Jesus, knowing what lay ahead, knowing He faced a brutal beating and then a cross… And Jesus sure in His Father’s love, sure in His identity, said, “You are right in saying I am” (Luke 22:70b).
Most of the first 30 plus years of my life was a search for identity, a crisis just around the corner. But I am becoming sure. Daily I come into a greater understanding regarding the fact that this faith journey I am on is a battle for who I am in Christ. A beloved son of God with whom He is well pleased.
The fact is, we are at war with an antagonist who daily attempts to undermine our faith in the perfection of our Father’s love and our position in Him, in His family. Remember the question the antagonist asked Jesus, “If you are a son of God?” It is the same question hurtled at us. It is a fallen premise that seeks to separate us from faith in our Father’s affection.
Here is what I believe… I exist to know and become sure in my Fathers love… And as I encounter Him I become surer in my identity as His beloved son.
My Father has invited me and you as well, to believe – to believe that He is love, that He works on our behalf toward good and that we are His sons and daughters with a profound heritage.
I am confident that our faith journey is about daily encountering our Father’s love and becoming sure in our identity.
I would like to suggest that though we were born into a crisis of identity, the moment we said yes to our heavenly Father, that crisis was resolved. The moment we surrendered our life to Jesus, the moment we received His love, is the moment we were set free to discover our sureness in love.
Through believing, Jesus not only confirmed and revealed His own identity but ultimately He won our identity for us as well. Jesus rose from the grave and forever answered the question of identity for those who choose to believe. We are sons and daughters of a good and loving Father. We are loved and becoming love. We are sure.
Our identity is found in believing in the absolute goodness of our Father’s love. This journey we are on will have its breath in that revelation. To the extent, we know this truth is to the extent we can engage this life-giving story.
Like all good stories, there will be mountains and valleys, there will be scary moments and wonder – glory to glory. But like all good stories, it ends happily ever after.
And that’s what I’m getting at. Following God is risky, absolutely. It might even lead to death on a cross. But because Jesus went first, we can be sure in our identity and therefore know that our story, like the best stories, always ends well – always.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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