If you and I would meet at a party and be arbitrarily seated next to each other, chances are we’d engage in small talk. We’d ask each other questions and offer tidbits of information in an effort to get to know each other a little better. You could even say that we would seek to discover the true identity of the other.
We might discuss where we’re from — where we were born and where we grew up. We may mention what we do for a living, where we went to college, and what church we attend.
As we would continue to chat and seek common ground, our likes and dislikes may enter the conversation. We may discuss books, movies, vacations, sports, and even common acquaintances.
By the end of the conversation, we’d feel that on some level we’d gotten to know each other. We could say to others, “Oh yes, I know so-and-so.”
And yet, none of this information would portray our true identity to the other. They are facts that partially describe us, but they don’t define us.
Only One Factor Determines Our True Identity
Yes, only one, and it doesn’t start with us at all.
It starts with God, our Creator. Ephesians 2:10 says that “we are God’s handiwork.” So it is He Who has determined our true identity.
Because God determines our identity, it matters a whole lot Who He is and what His essential nature is like. John tells us what that is in the clearest of terms in 1 John 4:8:
“God is Love.”
God IS Love.
Let that sink in for a moment. All that you know love to be, God is. Love defines Him. It IS Him.
And it is out of this attribute of love that God designed each one of us and chose our true identity.
Our True Identity
As we read through Scripture and view it as a whole, we come to realize the Bible is actually a love story — a story of a God who desires a close relationship with those He designed and created. In fact, that’s why He created us — to have a relationship with us.
We were created by Love. We were created for Love.
Remember, God is LOVE.
We were created by Him and for Him!
And this, my friends, is the core of our true identity: We are God’s Beloved.
Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” -Brennan Manning
Remember, what God longs for more than anything else is a relationship with us.
If you don’t believe that, start at the beginning of the Bible and read the whole way through. His desire for intimacy with us is portrayed on almost every page, such as this one where Jesus said, “I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.” (John 15:15 HCSB)
Ultimately, the fact that we are God’s Beloved culminated in Him appointing His only Son to die for us so we can spend eternity with Him. This creates an extended identity in Christ in which we become heirs with God’s Son. It’s an exciting identity and means a whole lot of great things for us — but it would never have happened without our original identity as God’s Beloved. He sacrificed His perfect and sinless Son in order to adopt us, His imperfect and sinful sons and daughters, because we were His Beloved from the very moment we were just a thought to Him!
Why Else Does this Identity Matter?
If you’ll notice, this is one of the first blog posts of this brand new website called Living Our Purpose. There’s a reason why we are starting out with pinpointing our true identity: before we can discover our purpose or even realize we have one, we have to know our true identity — that we are God’s Beloved.
God created us for Himself, to be loved and to love in return. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). As we grasp the truth that we are fully and deeply loved by God, we are set free to fulfill the unique purpose He has chosen for each of us.
As God’s Beloved, we are fully accepted by Him. He created me to be ME, and you to be YOU, with all the individual variations that make us misunderstand and irritate each other, but that also enable us to bless each other and to fulfill His unique purpose for us.
Graham Cooke has posed the question, “What if … a big part of your ministry and your life is to simply stay, abide, dwell, and remain in the experience of being loved by God?”
It’s a concept to ponder, for sure. Just think of the complete freedom one has to love and give of oneself with abandon when centered on God’s love for him or her. Surely, the purest of motives can only come from a security rooted in being perfectly loved by the only One who can love perfectly.
I would venture to say that no ministry is true ministry unless it comes from a person who knows they are God’s Beloved.
“That heart is free that is held by no other love than the love of God,” stated the late Rich Mullins.
Rich’s experience of such freedom did not come without much struggle and heartache as portrayed in the movie, Ragamuffin, that tells his life story. His ministry through the songs he wrote and sang touched thousands and thousands of lives (and still does), because it flowed from a heart deeply rooted in the knowledge that he was perfectly loved by God.
You may be thinking, “That’s great and all, but how do you truly live out of that love? How do you fully grasp the fact that I am God’s beloved?”
I don’t believe we can without the Holy Spirit.
If you recall, Jesus told his disciples that it was best for them (and for all of us who would be born later) that He would go back to Heaven, because then the Spirit would come to live with them (and us).
And He has. But far too often we just ignore Him or are oblivious to His presence with us.
To benefit from His presence, we must deliberately choose to listen for His still small voice and be willing to believe, assimilate, and follow what He says. He longs to reveal God’s love and truth to us.
Lately, I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to enable me to view all things through spiritual eyes, rather than the natural. He has been faithful to open my eyes to see God’s love in many things, even those things which are hurtful, disappointing, frustrating, and overwhelming.
Knowing that God in His deep love for me only allows those things into my life for which He has a higher purpose for good, I look for the opportunities, the gifts, and the good in those things that otherwise seem not so good.
Walking by the Spirit to Live our Purpose
Not only does the Holy Spirit reveal God’s love to us and empowers us to live loved, He reveals all truth to us, including God’s purpose and plan for us.
The Bible talks about living by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, and following the Spirit. As we deepen our relationship with Him as we journey together, we not only live loved by Him, we are conduits for Him to love others through us.
The unique and particular way God loves others through us is our life purpose.
And so begins our journey of discovering and living our specific and unique purpose by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and continuously makes known to us our true identity in Jesus as God’s Beloved and His heir!