And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV).
Who are you?
The world would like to answer that question for you. Let’s debunk five identity lies the culture promotes and the Church too often parrots.
1. “You are unique.”
“You’re a snowflake; there isn’t another one in the world just like you. You are so unique.” While you have unique fingerprints and DNA, the reality is there are a lot of people who have the same talents and abilities you have. Elijah, God’s chosen prophet, was a regular, ordinary guy. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). And there’s freedom in being ordinary.
2. “You are your job.”
“Whatever you do—that’s who you are.” Work is an honorable thing. If you work to provide for your family—whether you collect garbage or work on an assembly line or win the Nobel prize—then that’s honorable in the sight of God. But you aren’t your job, nor are you your network (your connections, who you know, who knows you), nor are you your net worth. The world might look at you through that lens, but God isn’t impressed by where you work, who you know, or how much you own. Jesus said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
3. “God needs you.”
Who does God need? Nobody! If I won’t do the assignment, then God will find somebody who will, and I’ll miss the blessing. God doesn’t need me! God has an army of ordinary people like me. Remember the triumphal entry scene, when Jesus entered Jerusalem a week before His crucifixion? The people erupted in overflowing praise to Jesus, and the Pharisees tried to silence them. Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). If we stopped worshiping, the very creation itself would call out the message that the universe was created to trumpet. God doesn’t need us; we get the privilege of participating with Him.
4. “You have to chase your dreams.”
“Go for the stars! Do something great you’ve always dreamed of!” This is the axe to the base of the tree of an ordinary, faithful life of honoring God. How sad to see God’s people pressured into thinking that if we don’t shake the world or do some massive, extravagant thing, then God will be disappointed with us. False! Right where you are, faithfully honor God. Do the little things. Rather than chasing your dreams, follow your Master. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
5. “You are your appearance.”
When the vast majority of us look in the mirror, we don’t really like what we see. We see all our flaws—our weight, our height, our shape, our hair, our features. The world pressures us into the mold of constantly judging people by what we see and judging ourselves by harsh standards. “Do not let your adorning be external,” Peter wrote, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3a, 4). God looks right past your new hairstyle to your heart.
Out with the lies, in with the truth. Who are you? Let’s listen to God’s answer: “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). We are lovely because He loves us—not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who He is and what He has already done.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.