“Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21, NASB).
The root of the English word, “identity,” is the Latin word, “identitas,” which means “again and again.”
Consequently, identity is a fixed point of reference in a world full of confusion; it is the persistent, pervasive, all-encompassing force that steers a person’s mind, thoughts, words and actions. Identity always precedes behavior; so all action stems and proceeds from this core sense of self.
This is fundamentally important because realizing, developing and nurturing a Christ-centered Christian identity constitutes the foundation of any Spirit-driven life.
A Christian identity built on this reality recognizes that all of humanity are children of God, formed in His image and likeness and destined to have an eternal and glorious koinonia (community and fellowship) with Him. We are all sons and daughters of the King whose kingdom and majesty shall endure forever.
Why, then, if you are a princess, would you think yourself to be a weak, helpless victim? Why, then, if you are a prince, would you think yourself to be an incapable and clueless dope, unable to take a stand? Why would you ever leave His house, settle for second best and muck around in the mud with swine, starving and hungry, when your Father has the best food and clothes already waiting for you?
Because we believe the lie.
We believe that the temporal present is better than the eternal future. We believe that doing what feels good now is a better deal than waiting for what is laid in store for us if we obey. We believe that an immediate reward exceeds the reward we’ll get if we endure risk and suffering in the present. We believe, “I am the center of my own identity,” when, in fact, nothing can be farther from the truth. Once we begin to accept the delusion that “I am the ultimate determinant of my identity,” then the downward spiral has begun. Identity is never, ever, me-dependent. It is always Christ-dependent.
Without Him, we have no true identity, and the wavering begins: There is no constant, there is no infinite reward, there is no life, there is no liberation from sin and death, and there is no peace. Christ has already experienced rejection, suffering and crucifixion, paying an atoning price for all of humanity. This means that the grip of evil is forever released. Consequently, whenever someone says, “Did God really say?” or “It’s just a taste,” or “One look won’t hurt,” or “She’ll never find out,” you say, “I am a child of God. It was for freedom that Christ set me free.”
A free person never allows sin to tell him or her what to do. A free person’s identity knows, believes and understands that Christ already conquered sin and paid the price for it. So sin’s attempts to reemerge are like the actions of a snake that sets out bait for you. You have just enough time to see the bait, desire it and gobble it up before the snake sinks its fangs into you and injects its deadly venom deep into your bloodstream.
In Romans 8:15-18, the apostle Paul says, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and, if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
To be an heir means to be in line for something greater than you have now, and that “greater-ness” is guaranteed as a function of who you already are. Once an heir, always an heir. No one ought to attempt to convince you otherwise. The enemy cannot take that inheritance away but will try to convince you that you are not destined for greatness. As a result, you may begin to look for fulfillment in things that are not worthy of your royal blood.
Believers in God who suffer from an identity crisis partly believe they are someone else and, therefore, succumb to the lies and distractions designed to give them a false identity. This is exactly the problem that the prophet Elijah was aware of in 1 Kings, prompting him to ask the people of Israel the question above. A false Christian identity leads to hesitation, hesitation leads to wavering, wavering leads to apathy, and apathy ultimately leads to death.
It was no mistake that Elijah was chosen to ask the Israelites, “How long will you hesitate?” The name Elijah (Eliahu) literally means “Jehovah is God,” or “My God is Yahweh.” Not some God or a God, but the God, and I am the one who serves Him. Elijah, the prophet, has no back story in the Old Testament. So, upon his introduction, we only know two things about him: his name and his place of origin (Tishbe). It’s safe to say that’s all that God wants us to know about his back story. Elijah’s identity was so fierce, so strong and so powerful that everything he did, he centered on the simple identity mission statement, “My God is Yahweh.”
Elijah, why are you treating with compassion those starving, “unclean” widows? My God is Yahweh.
Elijah, why would you ever take a bold leap into the unknown and follow crazy instructions? My God is Yahweh.
Elijah, can’t you just ease up a little and compromise a tad so that more people can feel comfortable? My God is Yahweh.
Elijah, why are you giving up everything else in your life and living like some weird person on the fringes of society? My God is Yahweh.
Elijah, why do you insist on doing things His way? No one likes you, you’re a troublemaker, the king and queen hate you, and things would be so much easier for you if you just gave up on this Jehovah nonsense. The way you think about the world is antiquated, you’re out of touch, and the world that you live in passed away a long time ago. Give up on your God because no one wants Him but you!
My God is Yahweh.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal