The notion of identity transcends age differences. For both adults and students, issues of personal identity, public perception, and self-worth are forever in the human heart (and often under the radar). Moreover, it’s not just people of every age who wrestle with these issues; it’s also a topic of conversation and struggle for many who have been reconciled with Christ and now find their ultimate identity in Him.
The issue of personal identity is prominent throughout one’s personal discipleship. It is a truth that Christians tend to learn early on, and comes back from time to time as we traverse the Christian life. The frequent exposure not only helps us to be reminded of biblical truths, but also helpful because this issue itself carries with it many implications to life in general.
In light of that, keep in mind that as you kick off the fall 2013 study of Bearing God’s Image this week, you are going to have students enter your room who have never conceived of themselves and their own personal identity in light of the One who made them. For instance…
• Many of your students have a personal view of themselves that is completely peer-driven – they identify with the labels they have received from others around them.
• Or they have labeled themselves and sought to identify with an inflated or deflated perception of themselves.
• Some connect their identities with an ability or performance – like playing a sport or making good grades.
• For others it may be in character traits they possess – such as being likable or in making others laugh.
• Still for others, their identity is tied to their social status, their association or disassociation from a certain group.
Whatever it may be, the point to be emphasized is that our students are finding their identity horizontally in the things around them.
This behavior is nothing new – after all, it is a characteristic of the human race. Yet even though there are a number of things students often find their identity in, if they were completely honest with you (and with themselves), I think that in those quiet moments they would confess that those things are unable to truly satisfy.
Like all sins, these things we seek to ground our identity in are utterly deceitful because they promise one thing but are unable to deliver. Why? Because our students were never meant to find their identity horizontally in the things around them, but rather vertically through their relationship with God.
For many of your students this week, this will be the first time they hear the biblical reality that they were created in God’s image, intended to reflect and glorify God as an image bearer should. That they have, by virtue of being created by a loving and personal Creator, inherent value, dignity, and worth as a person. And ultimately that they, because of the person and work of Jesus, are being restored to reflect God the way they ought, and because of that there is no reason to find identity in the trivial things around them.
These will be weighty truths for them to hear not because they are difficult to understand, but because they get to the heart of the matter when it comes to how students understand themselves and others around them. These truths carry with them tremendous implications for a student’s life.
So be encouraged as you seek to shepherd the hearts in your group this week with the truth of not only who created them, but also why they were created!