Church Planter: What’s Your Identity in Christ?

The funny thing about how we define our lives is that we identify them through a negative focus. That’s why self-identity is so important.

Church Planter: What's Your Identity in Christ?

If I were to ask you, how do you see your life? How do you define it? The answer would be about other people, jobs, finances, hurts, scars, joys, missed opportunities and ones you hit home runs on. And if we’re honest, most of what we would say would be negative. We would focus on our failures at work, how we missed that promotion. We would concentrate on regrets we carry around how we weren’t there for that friend, that child. We would talk about the hurts we carry. The relationship with a father we longed for but never had. The funny thing about how we define our lives is that we identify them through a negative focus. That’s why self-identity is so important.

I came across this prayer this week, and it jumped off the page at me: O God, help me to believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.

Slowly, over time, we begin to believe the stories we tell ourselves.

The story that says you aren’t worthwhile, you aren’t loveable, you’ll never measure up, you won’t be enough, you won’t be tall enough, strong enough or smart enough. You won’t make enough; you won’t produce enough.

The story goes on and on.

I think this is why one of the most used phrases in the New Testament is so important.

When you think of church people or Christian speak, you think of the word Christian.

That word is used only three times in the New Testament, but the phrase In Christ is used 165 times.

Rankin Wilbourne said: In Christ tells you a new story about who you are. In Christ means you have been given a new identity. God has called you into a new life, rooted in a history that predates you, anchored in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Here’s why this matters.

We spend our whole lives trying to prove ourselves, trying to find ourselves. In school, we try to find the right crowd to fit into, and that continues as we get through high school, college and into adult life.

Many of us have been abandoned and left by someone, and we wonder if we were worth loving. We wonder if anyone will care for us, not for what we can give them or do for them.

Many of us, in the darkness of the night, would admit that we feel inadequate, we feel like we don’t measure up, we don’t have what it takes. According to many doctors, this is the leading cause of anxiety and depression in our world today: not being enough.

This is why Our focus determines our lives. 

For good and bad. What we focus on determines where we end up. It determines what our lives become. How our relationships go. But, as one person said, what we focus on also determines what we miss.

So, if you focus on negative things all the time. Call yourself a realist, and you miss joy. You miss beauty.

If we focus only on our feelings, we might miss what is happening.

Many of us don’t pay attention to what is going on in our bodies, the feelings, sensations, the pits in our stomach, and because of this, we miss some important things that God is telling us.

Being in Christ means we are given a new story, a new path to move forward in.

A few weeks ago, I was at a pastors’ lunch where they were talking about worship songs. One of the pastors said we needed fewer songs about God’s love for us and more songs about how God is holy, worthy of worship, the justice of God, etc.

Because this was my first time at this lunch, I didn’t say anything, but inside I was falling apart.

No matter what you think about God if I were to ask you, do you believe God is holy? Do you believe God is different from you? Almost everyone I know would say, “If there’s a God, he’s different form me. I might say holy.”


But, if I asked that same person, do you believe God loves you? That God could forgive you for the things you struggle to forgive yourself for? That God likes you and is pursuing you to have a relationship with you so you can be made whole? Almost all of us would say, “I don’t believe that. I might want to believe that, but I struggle to believe that.”


This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

Joshua Reich
Joshua Reich is the Lead Pastor at Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ. Revolution is an Acts 29 church that dreams of saturating the city of Tucson with gospel-centered church planting churches. Josh has a B.S. in Pastoral Leadership from Lancaster Bible College and an M.Div. in Organizational/Missional Leadership from Biblical Seminary. In addition to writing here, some of his writing also appears at Church Leaders. Josh’s new book, Breathing Room, comes out September 2015.