“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”
~Batman, Batman Begins
The above quote is from a scene in Batman Begins, in which Rachel, the childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, does not yet know that he (spoiler alert) is Batman. She asks him, as Batman, to tell her his name, his identity, and he responds with this claim (which, coincidentally, he quotes from her, thus actually revealing who he is).
This is a claim about identity. According to the World English Dictionary, identity is “the state of having unique characteristics held by no other person or thing.” An identity is that which makes you unique, what makes you essentially you. It is what gives you value.
I have a problem with Batman’s definition of identity. His philosophy is that a person’s actions are the only thing that gives them value. Is that really true, though? If it is, an infant has less worth than the adult they may become. A paralytic is worthless. People who excel at something without trying have more worth than people who try really hard but are only mediocre. If you suffer from an illness or injury or if you retire and no longer can do what you did, your identity is stripped away and you lose worth. If Batman somehow doesn’t stop something bad from happening, then he loses value. He is worth less than he was before.
From a Christian perspective, that cannot be right. As humans, we have intrinsic value because of our creation: We were made as image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-28). He gives us purpose, worth, our identity. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made”–we are masterpieces (Psalm 139:14). A baby, a paralytic, a retiree, a Nobel prize winner, a president–even a criminal–we all are equal in value, because our Creator made us that way.
Yet still, identity based on activity is ground into our thinking. When I meet people, by far the most prevalent questions, as we strive to understand what gives each other identity, are, “Where do you go to school?” and “What do you do for a living?” These questions both focus on activities as the most important characteristic of an identity.
This summer, I have been learning about who I am. I’ve learned that my identity should be based on who I am, not what I do. I’m often not the best at knowing who I am. I listen to lies from culture, Satan, the people around me. If I really want to know who I am, I have to listen to what God says about me.
So who am I? Who are we, as Christians, as followers of Jesus? My friends made a list of some Bible verses and what they say about our identity that I want to share with you:
|Isaiah 43:4||Precious and honored in God’s eyes|
|1 Corinthians 13||Lovers: patient, kind, not envious, humble, not boastful, not rude, selfless, not easily angered, don’t remember wrongs against us, rejoice in the truth, protectors, trusting, hopeful, persevering|
|1 John 4:18||Not fearful of anything but God|
|Psalm 139:14||Fearfully and wonderfully made|
|1 Thessalonians 5:5||Children of the Light|
|Matthew 5:13-14||The salt of the earth and the light of the world|
|1 John 2:15||Not lovers of the world|
|1 John 3:1||Children of God|
|Matthew 28:19||Disciples of all nations|
|1 Samuel 16:7||Valued because of our hearts, not our looks|
|Jeremiah 1:7||Not too young|
|Romans 8:37||More than conquerors|
|Genesis 1:26-28||Made in the image of God|
|Ephesians 6:11||Clothed in the armor of God|
|Song of Songs 2:10||Precious, loved, and beautiful|
|1 John 3:17||Not condemned|
|Hebrews 4:1-3||Made to enter into His rest|
|James 5:7||Patient in suffering|
|Galatians 4:7||Not slaves, but sons and heirs|
|Colossians 3:15||Called to live in peace and always be thankful|
|1 Corinthians 12, 14||Unique|
|1 Corinthians 10:23 and John 8:36||Free (indeed!)|
|Philippians 2:15||Blameless and pure, faultless children of God|
|Ephesians 2:6||Seated with Christ in the heavenly realms|
|Genesis 17:16||Mothers of many nations|
|3 John 5||Faithful in what we are doing|
|Revelation 22:17||The Bride of Christ|
|Ephesians 1:3||Blessed with every spiritual blessing|
|Jude 21||Eagerly waiting for Jesus to come back|
|Matthew 16:18||Not prevailed against by the gates of hell|
|2 Corinthians 6:16||The Temple of the living God|
|2 Corinthians 5:17||New creations|
|1 Corinthians 8:3||Known by God|
|Matthew 5||Peacemakers, meek, poor in spirit, persecuted|
|Matthew 4:19||Fishers of men|
|1 Thessalonians 5:16||Joyful|
This changes everything. I’m no longer an author, a student, a driver, an artist. I am a redeemed Daughter of God who writes stories to reflect Him. I am a servant and an ambassador for Christ who goes to school to learn (all truth comes from God) and to spread the kingdom there. I am a humble and patient lover, even when drivers cut me off or don’t let me over. I am thankful and a worshipper, therefore the art I make is a song of praise to the Maker of all beauty.
Obviously, I fall short of my identity all the time. As humans, we’re still under the affects of sin, even though we’re not bound to sin anymore. But knowing my identity lets me acknowledge my sin, bring it to my Father, accept the forgiveness He has already lavished upon us, and move forward. Knowing who I am sets me free.
So who are you? And what are you going to do because of it?