Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes on the planet. Every day, thousands of people become members of this dubious fraternity.
That’s an alarming trend, of course. But there’s another form of identity theft that is also exploding in our midst. A form with far more ominous and destructive consequences. A form with life and death ramifications. It’s the theft of our identity in Christ. And it’s so sad.
Too many believers have allowed Satan’s nefarious whispers to take root in their head and convince them that they will never be like the “good Christians.” That they are somehow inferior believers because of what they have thought or done in the past (or what they’re thinking or doing right now). That they cannot be used by God in the present and in the future to help others and expand his Kingdom on earth and for eternity.
It’s wrong. It’s a lie. It’s tragic.
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
We’re most vulnerable to this kind of identity theft when we put on faces and facades in order to play what I call the “externals game.” The game’s purpose is to create our identity and sense of security in life. The game starts when we begin performing onstage for everyone but God. We don’t even know some of the audience members, and we might not even like them if we did, but we still act as though their approval is the only thing that matters.
We fear man more than God, and so, standing within the stage’s confines, we put our life decisions through the wrong filter. Our constant concern is, “What will they think?” We fear failure particularly when we are the “lead actor” in the theater of our career or our calling. “What will they think?” bothers us even more than our fear of failure.
We think our work is how we get our worth. Our culture has taught us this from day one, and we have bought into the misconception. We are trying to be in control when we should be under God’s control.
Paul told his protégé Timothy to concentrate on winning God’s approval rather than the approval of others:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Trying to win too much praise in this way is really a fear of rejection.
“It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.” Proverbs 25:27
“Do not pay attention to every word people say.” Ecclesiastes 7:21
We will be on a lifetime hunt and frustrated forever if we try earning our approval from the world by putting on a mask and going onstage to perform. We will be deluded into thinking the hunt is about being successful and following the crowd to find a “new pathway to peace.” That is an always-vanishing mirage because the things we do and the things we have do not determine who we are. They never have and they never will. Who we are determines what we do, and what we do determines who we are.