Search for Identity

This book [Search for Identity] contains some of the lessons learned through the day-to-day experiences in the mental hospital at which I am a chaplain. Rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge have been given to us through the lives of people with emotional illness, through the body of psychiatric knowledge, and above all, through the resources of the Christian Faith and the Holy Scriptures…

No small part of the problem of those who receive treatment for emotional problems is that they have lost their sense of identity. As one man put it. “I am looking for a feeling of somebodyness.” When he said this I recalled the words of Peter:

“You were no people but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10).

We all were nobodies until God, through Christ, made us somebodies…

I believe that the major issues of human life today are the same as those with which our early ancestors struggled, and with which our children after us will struggle. We have asked and always will ask,

  • What is my identity?
  • How can I become a whole person before God and with people?
  • Where is the victory over sin?
  • How can I mature as a person and effectively play the roles (such as being a husband or a parent) to which God has called me?

We struggle with each of these questions. And the answer, in a word, is not a set of ideas but a person — Christ.

I remember during my early years at college that I despised that answer. It was too simple for my pseudo-sophisticated mind. I wrote off Christ as the answer by saying that the word was a cliche, a word with no meaning for us modern people. Twentieth-century man, I argued, needed new, more relevant answers to his changing questions about life. I wanted an answer constructed out of ideas (my own, preferably) which would pass the test my own arrogance had set up. But God had mercy on my ignorance. Someone who is at once a Person, a pattern and a power came into my life. God took me off the throne of my egoistic omniscience and gave me an answer — the Lord Jesus Christ.

The answer to human problems is a Person. I do not exclude knowledge and insight, but look first to the Person, Jesus Christ, who waits to form us into His image so that we may possess His identity [1].  Then we become somebody… A new identity has been given us. We are God’s own people. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people …” (I Peter 2:9). We even bear the name of the Son of God. The name Christian identifies us. We are Christ’s kind of people. We belong to God.

The search for a Christian identity ends in the discovery of that fascinating Person, God.

Search for Identity, A View of Authentic Christian Living (Zondervan, 1967), preface, 149,150.

[1] Rom. 8:29

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