Why Understanding Your True Identity Matters Most
Our beliefs influence our lives and the decisions we make. However, there’s one core set of beliefs that are more powerful than anything else in directing our life’s decisions. These are the beliefs we have about our identity.
“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” – Tony Robbins
What is your identity?
You might be a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a coffee drinker, an entrepreneur…the list goes on. All these examples may describe the various hats you wear and how you see yourself. Of course, these roles influence you and the decisions you make. Some of these identities might be silly, held lightly, and others are very important. None, however, can bring true fulfillment. Because we were all made to bring glory to God and to find fulfillment in him, alone.
If you are a follower of Christ, dear reader, please allow me to remind me of your truest identity and where it is found.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3
You are righteous, holy, and loved: a child of God.
Understanding and claiming this identity in Christ that you have been given, through grace, is vital to living a life that pleases God and brings him glory.
An interesting story that I recently read was about what happened in the Chinese Communist POW camps in N. Korea during the Korean war. To me, it illustrated the importance of knowing who we are, in Christ- and to remain vigilant against that which goes against who God says we are.
American investigators, after the war, discovered that nearly every captured American soldier collaborated in some way with their captors during their imprisonment. How could this happen?
This wasn’t done through torture, but through the Chinese captor’s sophisticated understanding of psychology. They capitalized on the concept of identity and on people’s desire to appear to remain consistent to that identity.
It’s a powerful example of the impact of beliefs on identity and human behavior. It shows how tiny shifts, little by little, can radically change someone’s world-view
The following is an excerpt from Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini.
An examination of the Chinese prison camp programme shows that its personnel relied heavily on commitment and consistency pressures to gain the desired compliance from prisoners. Of course, the first problem facing the Chinese was how to get any collaboration at all from the Americans. These were men who were trained to provide nothing but name, rank, and serial number. Short of physical brutalization, how could the captors hope to get such men to give military information, turn-in fellow prisoners, or publicly denounce their country? The Chinese answer was elementary: start small and build.
For instance, prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti-american or Pro communist as to seem inconsequential (“The United States is not perfect.” “In a communist country, unemployment is not a problem.”). But once these minor request were complied with, the men found themselves pushed to submit to related yet more substantive requests. A man who has just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case. Once he had so explained himself, he might be asked to make a list of these “problems with America” and to sign his name to it. Later he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners. “After all, it's what you really believe, isn't it?” Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail.
The Chinese might then use his name and his essay in an anti American radio broadcast beamed not only to the entire camp, but to other p.o.w. camps in North Korea, as well as to American Forces in South Korea. Suddenly he would find himself a “collaborator” having given aid to the enemy. Aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and with the new “collaborator” label, often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration.
The following are 4 takeaways on our identity in Christ that I gleaned from this story and from my study of scriptures:
1.What we believe about who we are in Christ has everything to do with how we live our lives.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2. The story of who we are and what we believe needs to be protected. Let the truth of God’s Word, be that against which all else is measured.
“Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:11
3. Small actions aren’t inconsequential. Over time, they can lead to drastic changes.
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Song of Solomon 2:15
4. The desire to be consistent is a powerful driver of our behaviors. When we find ourselves going down the wrong road, we can resist, finding strength to do so through the Holy Spirit- and we can turn back to what we know is true. We will find forgiveness through repentance, finding restoration in our relationship with God, a loving Father.
(see the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32)
Dear reader, I pray that you find hope in Christ and in the identity that he gives to all who call upon his name.