A few years ago, our family completed a journey to adopt and immigrate our son from South Africa. This process took over four years and included custody, name changes, countless documents, and finally culminated in him receiving his US citizenship and passport.
My son’s identity has changed. He has a new name, a new country, and a new family heritage.
This does not change his story. Where he came from will always be a part of his life, but how he is known is completely different.
It is this way with all of us. Our past is a part of who we are, but we have a new identity through Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
This is so clear through the example of Abraham. Look at these two verses side by side and notice the difference.
Genesis 17:17 – “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Romans 4:19 – “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.”
The Genesis account is the facts. Abraham indeed fell on his face and laughed. He knew his body was as good as dead. His past is a part of his story.
The Romans account is the same story through the eyes of a new identity. Abraham is now seen through the eyes of being counted as righteous (Romans 4:5). It is as if the laughter never happened. Paul can truly say Abraham never weakened in his faith when he considered his own body. That’s how serious God takes his new identity.
Read it again, it really says that.
My son will always have where he came from as a part of his unique story. Those are the facts. His past does and will shape him.
But his identity is changed. His past is not a prison, but merely a chapter in the story.
He has a new name, a new family heritage, and a new citizenship.
As is ours. We always remember the facts of our story and the ways it has shaped us. Yet these memories are not our identity.
- Paul calls the Corinthians “sanctified and saints“, even when their lives don’t look so saintly.(1 Cor. 1:2)
- He tells the Ephesians they are in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)
- Revelation says believers are clothed in white. (Rev. 5:5, 22:14)
- Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), but our story comes from Earth.
Perhaps we would be better served to focus on our identity, not merely our story.
What part of your identity do you need to be reminded of today?
(This post first appeared on Tony Alicea's blog, Expect the Exceptional.)