Identity is at the Core of Most of Our Personal Problems. Here’s a Solution:

Ben Malcolmson

Who does God say we are?

That question came up last weekend when I was hanging out with a few really good buddies who are students at Western Washington University. We were wrestling with how our identities on this earth are at the root of so many of our problems and decided to go to the Bible to help us figure it out.

Who does God say we are?

That question came up again as I listened to a sermon by Pastor Jerry Dirmann of The Rock Church in Anaheim, Calif., last week. In the sermon, he said, “We can either let the world tell us who we are or let God tell us who we are.”

Well then, who does God say we are?

Identity seems to have been a theme in the last few weeks. It’s come up repeatedly in sermons I’ve been hearing, books I’ve been reading and conversations I’ve been having. Who, exactly, are we in Christ? I didn’t want to do what I seemed to do too far often when it came up — answer that question with little effort or thought. “My identity is in Christ,” I would say, with half of an exclamation point and half of a question mark at the end.

Enough with that ambiguity. Time to get detailed. What characteristics do we possess as men and women of God?

So it was a well-primed yet spontaneous decision at 7:15pm last Tuesday to sit down and write out traits of our identity in Jesus. As I started writing out those characteristics, Bible verses began coming to mind that perfectly aligned with each attribute. By 7:45, just 30 minutes later, our trusty 3-in-1 printer was churning out a perfectly formatted sheet containing 23 features of our identity as followers of Jesus. I couldn’t believe my eyes or heart as I stared at the page that screamed out realities of our identity, echoing Jesus’ truth into my soul.

You can download a PDF of these identity statements here.

*Photo by CPOA, Creative Commons

That question that had been ringing in sermons, in conversations and in my mind for days, months and years was answered so succinctly, so Biblically and so beautifully. The Holy Spirit did a mighty work in that half-hour last Tuesday night to shine bright, stunning light onto my — our — search for identity.

As I excitedly shared the document with friends, co-workers, family members, my YoungLife small group guys, Twitter followers and anyone else who would listen, I realized the truths on that page were hitting everyone else just as powerfully as they struck me. This was real, and I was definitely not alone in this seemingly spur-of-the-moment pursuit.

The question of identity is what we are all striving to answer before we reach the end of our time on Earth, regardless of what you believe, how many college degrees you have or where you fit on the corporate ladder. People search for the fulfillment of this longing in relationships, jobs, money, achievements, possessions and a million other things, but the cool thing is that Jesus has already answered the question — and done all the work — for us. We don’t have to do anything other than soak in His truths about who we are in Him. It’s as if the teacher has given us all the answers to the biggest test we’ll ever face.

So who does God say we are? Join me and many others in standing on these truths about our identity in Jesus. Post it at home and in your office. Pass it along to friends. Dwell on these verses of who you are. And when we come to know who we are as He says we are, we will become truly unshakeable.

We’d love for you to pass along this PDF to anybody you think it might encourage. Download it here.

Ben Malcolmson

Ben Malcolmson

This is a guest post by Ben Malcolmson, the assistant to head coach Pete Caroll of the Seattle Seahawks. He is a former football player at USC and is active in YoungLife. Ben lives in Seattle, Washington.

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  • naw

    “We don’t have to do anything other than soak in His truths about who we are in Him. It’s as if the teacher has given us all the answers to the biggest test we’ll ever face.”
    True, but we still have to undergo the test every moment of every day of our lives. He has written the answers in our hearts, but we still have to choose the right answers and, as trite as this phrase is, do the right thing. The victory of the cross did not eradicate free will.

    • Marlon Peseke

      I agree with you naw. However, the truths are encouraging. Identity has been something that has been heavy on my heart the past few weeks. It is clear what happens when we allow something other than Christ to dictate our identity. We sin.

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  • WHO AM I?

    When the world defines

    Who has worth

    By what we do

    Not by our birth

    Who am I?

    If watching others

    in their strife

    makes me feel good

    about my life

    Who am I?

    If I can’t sing

    To beat my rival

    Show the world

    That I’m their idol

    Who am I?

    If I don’t have

    8 kids at once

    or treat my spouse

    like he’s a dunce

    Who am I?

    If my cake falls flat

    On your birthday

    And I can’t cook

    Like Rachel Ray

    Who am I?

    If I don’t know

    What not to wear

    I just don’t have that

    Fashion flare.

    Who am I?

    If I don’t seek

    To find my place

    Through my child

    And her made-up face

    Who am I?

    Let me remember

    Whose I am

    Not what I do

    That’s all a sham

    I am a child

    Of the King

    Whether or not

    I can sing

    I find favor

    In God’s eyes

    I don’t need

    a disguise

    He knew me before

    The world was made

    Before I was born

    He knew my name

    Because of his

    Amazing grace

    If no one ever

    Knows my face

    I am so loved

    Just for me

    Love can’t be earned.

    Salvation’s free.

    Thank you Lord

    That it’s all You.

    Not a thing

    That I can do

    You sent your son

    To die for me

    So I can live


    The world may trust

    Each passing lie.

    I’ll trust “Whose”

    Not “who” am I.

    Lisa Simmons

    • Norman Boutin

      You are what you do.
      And since you can choose what you do, you can choose your identity.
      Oh sure, the name on your birth certificate doesn’t change, and your parents, birth date and place of birth don’t change,
      but who you are changes with the changes in what you do.

      It’s amazing that this simple idea is never explicitly stated.
      Even the Bible, which tells us what we should do on nearly every page, never explicitly states the idea.

      People think who they are is determined at birth and can’t change. They think they have an unchanging ‘self’ that must do what they’re doing.
      Absolutely wrong!

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  • Norman Boutin

    From “Empress Theresa” by Norman Boutin ( Hey! That’s me! ) :

    President Stinson spoke again.
    “We never know what Theresa will do next. It seems just yesterday she said she had no interest in politics or war. Today she’s planning to lead an army into North Korea. Who is Theresa? We all believed we had her figured out but now we’ll have to start over. Do you want to explain who you are, Theresa?”
    The reporters and President Stinson laughed. Steve stared at me like he was displeased, but nobody was fooled. Anyone else on the planet would have jumped at the chance to talk about themselves, but not me. The moment was funny because it reflected a serious issue. It was still not known what I would do because the world didn’t know me. What did I want? Why did I do the things I did? What would I not do? Who was I, really? How did I get that way?
    The press now had its lead headline for the news: General Who?
    President Stinson didn’t give up. She smiled real friendly like and swung her head towards the podium inviting me to step up and say something. I had no choice. I stepped up to the podium.
    “I’m very simple. I follow my conscience. I am what I do. We are saved or damned not for what we think but for what we do. If kids understood that they are what they do and they can change their identity today, there would be no street gangs and teenage prisoners. ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god’.”
    That seemed enough and I stepped aside.

    • Norman Boutin

      My last post doesn’t mention Jesus.
      Somebody might say leaving God out of Theresa’s statement makes it less useful. Somebody might say we should talk about God when trying to convert people.

      Tell it to members of street gangs, drug dealers, and prostitutes. They won’t know what you’re talking about. They’ll tell you where you can go!

      I remember an episode of “60 Minutes” many years ago.
      An 18 year old inner city black kid was a member of a gang. When he was with the gang he talked tough, but when he was alone with the “60 Minutes” reporter he was subdued and whined about his life. He was afraid of leaving the gang because they might kill him. He thought he was a prisoner of his circumstances and had no choice. He didn’t like who he was but felt he was trapped.

      If somebody told him “You are what you do and and can change who you are today………..” ……….!!!!

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