More and more we are hearing about many who are suffering from an identity crisis. People are stressing themselves out questioning their roles, their achievements, their sexuality, their beliefs and values. At one time, the confusion of self-identity was confined to teenagers as they struggle with their own natural growth and development. But now it is spreading into adulthood as people are challenged with personal changes while dealing with radical changes in culture and the pressures that accompany them.
We, as Christians, also face a kind of identity crisis. When we consider the decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior into our lives, each of us must deal with a hard, cold fact and confess: “I am a sinner. I fall short of God’s glory and stand condemned,” (Romans 3:9-23). For that reason, we must take on a new identity. Through faith, repentance, and baptism, we put on Christ (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9). The old life is dead and the new life has begun (Rom. 6:4-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We have hope in the glorious age to come (Luke 18:30; Titus 2:13). Now, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of God and His Word, we develop an identity where Jesus Christ is living in us. Through Jesus, we have access to God’s Power as we face life’s challenges and changes.
Our new identity isn’t easy, however. We must struggle with day-to-day problems that confront us. There are always temptations that attempt to allure us away from our identity in Christ. Sudden losses, failures, disasters, can trigger doubts, fears. and regrets. We may be told that being a Christian means having endless blessings and happiness for the rest of our lives. But, one day, we discover that being a Christian is not all that easy in a world where even our own family or friends may turn against us for trying to live as Jesus calls us to live. It’s during times like this that we must not question who we are “for the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” (Rom. 7:14-25; 8:1-39).
Speaking of our identity, I found this parable attributed to James Aggrey to be most fitting:
A certain man went through a forest seeking any bird of interest he might find. He caught a young eagle, brought it home, and put it among the fowls and ducks and turkeys, and gave it chicken food to eat even though it was an eagle, the king of birds.
Five years later, a naturalist came to see him and, after passing through his garden, said: “That bird is an eagle, not a chicken.”
“Yes,” said the owner, “but I have trained it to be a chicken. It is no longer an eagle, it is a chicken, even though it measures fifteen feet from tip to tip of its wings.”
“No,” said the naturalist, “it is an eagle still; it has the heart of an eagle, and I will make it soar high up into the heavens.”
“No,” said the owner, “it is a chicken and it will never fly.”
They agreed to test it. The naturalist picked up the eagle, held it up and said with great intensity: “eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to this earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly.”
The eagle turned this way and that, and then looking down, saw the chickens eating their food, and down he jumped.
The owner said, “I told you it was a chicken.”
“No,” said the naturalist, “it is an eagle. Give it another chance tomorrow.”
So the next day he took it to the top of the house and said, “Eagle, thou art an eagle; stretch forth thy wings and fly.” But again the eagle, seeing the chickens feeding, jumped down and fed with them.
Then the owner said: “I told you it was a chicken.”
“No,” asserted the naturalist, “it is an eagle, and it has the heart of an eagle; only give it one more chance, and I will make it fly tomorrow.”
The next morning he rose early and took the eagle outside the city and away from the houses, to the foot of a high mountain. The sun was just rising, gilding the top to the mountain with gold, and every crag was glistening in the joy of the beautiful morning.
He picked up the eagle and said to it: “Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly.”
The eagle looked around and trembled as if new life were coming to it. Yet it did not fly. The naturalist then made it look straight at the sun. Suddenly it stretched out its wings and, with the screech of an eagle, it mounted higher and higher and never returned. It was an eagle, though it had been kept and tamed as a chicken.
We have been created in the image of God, but men have made us think that we are chickens, and so we think we are; but we are eagles. Stretch forth your wings and fly! Don’t be content with the food of chickens! (Illustrations Unlimited)
In a world where many are having an identity crisis, Christians don’t need to be confused over who they are and what their purpose is in life. Once we cast our eyes on the SON, we can soar as eagles knowing full well that God our Father has a better plan for us: “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary,” (Isaiah 4:31, New American Standard Bible).
Here is Chris Tomlin singing, “I Will Rise”: https://youtu.be/WlHUKY3jBv0
Good News to YOU!