An Adopted Identity
Note: Today’s scripture reading is Galatians 4. We’re going through the entire New Testament this year. Hang in there!
There’s this idea in our culture that our identity is something we are on our own to come up with. It goes something like this, “Look inside yourself and discover who you really are, then express that person. Be yourself.” The idea is that we will finally be happy and free when we find and express our truest self. Even as I write this, my own cultural impulses want to say, “Well, that’s right…isn’t it?” Yet as we look deeper, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” from within ourselves is a daunting task. In fact, within each of us there is an undeniable impulse for approval from outside ourselves.
OK, sorry if that was a little philosophical. Here’s what I mean: We’re all being told, “Find yourself, and be true to yourself.” And yet also, we are being told, “Conform or we won’t accept you!” This puts us in an impossible position. No wonder people have “self esteem” issues! The good news is, the gospel has an answer to this. God declares to us our identity. The gospel tells us that the “truest expression of ourselves” is actually far worse than we would dare imagine. And yet God looks at us and declares, “You are my child!” Not because we have expressed ourselves so well, but because Jesus expressed the perfect image of God in his life and gave his righteousness to us. We are free to operate under grace because our place in God’s kingdom is based on our adoption, not our self expression.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:4–7 ESV
When we ask, “Who am I?” we now have an answer. If you have trusted Christ, you can say, “I am a child of God.” That is who I am. Not because I found my truest self, but because the God who made me has declared me his adopted child. As you battle with insecurities or pride. As you wade through feelings of self hatred and self love, go the the cross. At the cross, Jesus says, “This is where your identity should have led you, but I took your place!” Go to the empty tomb where Jesus says, “Here, have my identity: righteous child of God.”