This article is an excerpt from Identity: My Life of Faith, a six-week study in the Spring 2017 Bible Studies for Life. Learn more about this curriculum and preview one month for free at biblestudiesforlife.com.
The Point: Jesus’ identity is foundational to who I am.
The Bible Meets Life: Who am I? That’s not always an easy question to answer. Many things make up who I am; who I am talking to also may affect my answer: I am a husband, a father, and a friend. All of these relationships help to define me. How I define and see myself—my identity—affects my thoughts and actions.
What truly affects our identity is how we see Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” How these men saw Jesus changed their lives because it changed how they saw themselves.
It’s true for us too. How we see Jesus shapes how we define ourselves. Without correctly understanding who Jesus is, we will never truly understand who we are. Consider, then, life’s most important question: Who is Jesus?
Read Luke 9:23-26.
Just as the apostles began to catch their breath after hearing the news of Jesus’ divine appointment with death, Jesus told them of their own. Luke 9:23 is one of the most important verses for any follower of Jesus. We will never understand who we are until we understand what this verse means for our lives.
If we want to call ourselves Christians—followers of Christ—we must say yes to Jesus, which means we must also say no to ourselves. And that means we are to pick up our cross—die to self—daily. Every day we must say no to ourselves: our desires, our wishes, and our dreams, and say yes to His lordship over our lives.
We live in a world that caters to self. By the world’s standard, everybody is in it for himself—and everyone is drowning!
- Drowning in broken relationships because he demands that everything centers on him.
- Drowning in debt because she has to have it all.
- Drowning in illness and disease because he has to eat or experience it all.
People work at jobs they hate, to buy stuff they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like.
Jesus calls us to be different.
We can’t find the secret to “happiness in life” in anything or anybody but Jesus. “Whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.” Dying to self and surrendering to Jesus is the best thing we can do. Jesus came so that we could experience life to the fullest (John 10:10). We can choose to be full of ourselves and die, or we can choose to die to ourselves and be full of Him and live the life He provides—the full, abundant life!
Jesus calls us to make a decision about Him. But it can’t be a private decision. Nobody can be a Christian and keep his or her faith completely private. Jesus wants His followers to be loyal to Him, to die to self, and to publicly proclaim their faith in him. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.”
We must understand who Jesus is, so that we can understand who we are. Then our decision to follow Jesus—and to follow Him daily—changes everything.