Matthew 16:13-19 (GW)
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 Jesus replied, “Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you.
18 You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it.
Let’s think about the word IDENTITY. The definition of the word identity is “The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” We could sum up our identity with so many attributes that make us who we are, but the fact of the matter is that our identity is found in who God says we are. Only He can define what we are, and the Bible says that He calls us His treasured possession. In fact, it says that He has chosen us to be His treasured possession that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Deuteronomy 14:2 (NIV)
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Our identity is not in how much talent we have or how many Facebook likes we receive. Our identity is not how much fame or future we garner or how big an applause we get. Our identity is not defined by social media hype or buzz, nor is it defined by positive or negative tabloid reviews.
When Jesus asked his disciples what the social buzz was about who he was, he was greeted with the most obvious answers, his identity was being compared with other famous people of the day.
Some said he was John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, Elijah or one of the other prophets. They were relating to him what others said about Jesus based on what he was saying and doing. They were judging him based on his performances in the city square, and really had no idea who Jesus really was.
Jesus then asked his disciples personally who they though he was. Peter answered with Jesus’ true identity that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus praises Simon for comprehending who Jesus really was, a revelation he got directly from God himself. As a result Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter which means rock. And upon this rock of the revelation of who Jesus really was, upon this solid foundation of Jesus’ true identity, Christ was going to build his church. A church based upon the knowledge of Jesus being the living God, the one and only true Messiah.
Many still see Jesus as nothing more than a good man, or a prophet of God, but not until they get the heavenly revelation of Jesus’ true identity will they really know Jesus for who he really was and why he came to earth.
Getting back to who do people say you are, we need to look at how we identify ourselves. How do we define who we are. How do we gauge our successes or failures?
How do you define yourself? Do you define who you are by what you do? Do you find your identity in who your family is? Do you decide who you are by what you own? Does your bank account determine your self-worth? Are you more concerned about what others say about you and as a result of attempting to please others you have lost sight of what really makes you happy? Who are you? What makes you tick? Why do you do what you do? What makes you who you are?
When we allow others to define who we are it is easy to get lost in the fantasy world they will then create for us to live in. Their approval, or applause will decide how we behave. When we are living for the approval of others, it is easy to lose sight of what really makes us function as a whole human being. Opinions of others matters more than our own opinions. Being forced to do for others to please them is a pretty sure path to losing yourself in the process.
When the applause stops our purpose for living ends as well. When others start to criticize and belittle us, we start to believe their bad press. By allowing others to define who we are, we fall into the trap of defining our self-worth based upon what others think we are worth.
This could very well explain entertainers who self-destruct through the abuse of drugs and alcohol because they have lost sight of who they are and what makes them happy. They have spent so much of their life pretending to be someone else to be liked by others that they despair for lack of a true identity.
One of the positive results of knowing Christ is He changes our identity and places within us a new improved identity, one that is incorruptible and life changing. God does not see us how the world sees us for that matter even how we see ourself. Simon became Peter once he knew who Christ really was. It was the life-changing revelation that allowed Peter to be bold in the face of personal attacks and character assassination attempts by those who wished to demean him and dismiss him as insignificant. Peter now knew who he was in Christ, his identity was no longer based on the shifting sand of popular opinion, his identity was now hid in Christ who saw him as ‘a rock.’ We need to note that all this took place before Peter denied he knew Christ three times.
Jesus knew who Peter was better than Peter knew who he was. Jesus was able to teach Peter what his true identity was and is. In Christ we find our true life, and our true identity. It is in Christ we find our purpose and our hope for living, apart from Him we actually can do nothing.
John 15:5,6 (AMP)
5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. 6 If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.
By associating with Christ, and drawing from Him, and allowing Him to define us, our identities are changed from a fruitless vine into a fruitful one. We are no longer fit for the garbage heap but instead are considered a treasured possession. We have value, so much so that Jesus shed His blood and died for you. You have eternal value, do not allow your value to be cheapened by allowing your identity to be stolen by the beggarly elements of society. Your of heavenly value, believe that and then live like you are a treasure, your life has great value and God knows it. Do you?
Don’t let others steal your identity secure it in Christ.