In talking about identity, it’s important to differentiate two basic understandings of identity: a worldly view and a godly view.
Typically, the world views identity as the result of how people look or how much people have accomplished. That is, the beautiful are propped up along with the rich, athletic, and charismatic. Usually, the highest idolized people in the world are some combination of the four. Spend some time analyzing the shows you watch, the music you listen to, and the people who are on magazines, and you’ll easily find what our present society defines as good and bad identities.
In short, the world defines identity based on “what can I get out of you.” Lust, entertainment, coveting, etc., are all things we desire to obtain from our current societal idols.
Think now about Christ. He came as a son of a working-class-to-poor family. His earthly father was a carpenter, so Christ’s only ambition for work at the time was to be a carpenter. The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into how the world saw Christ:
“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Christ had none of the factors that would make him loved and idolized by the world. Yet, He accomplished much and laid a groundwork for who we should be. He lived our lives as human and showed us how to emulate Himself so that we should not fall into the pitfalls of the world.
Our exaltation from man dictates our worldly identity. Our exaltation from God dictates our godly identity.
The world’s view of identity comes and goes with the current lusts of the world. God’s view of identity is eternal and has been distilled inside us. Later, we’ll look at how God views identity.
Right now, though, consider how you’ve succumbed to a worldly view of identity. What are you currently striving for that brings exaltation from man? We all have things that hinder us. Consider yours and ask God for a change of heart.