The Human Need of Identity
Updated: Jan 24
When I was in high school, I was a decent baseball and football player. I wasn’t good enough to play at the collegiate level but I could hold my own at the high school level. Back then, in my younger years, that was who I was. I was a ball player, a sportsman, someone who was athletic. I would see my picture in the paper, cut it out, and hang it somewhere I could constantly see it. I would even practice my signature boasting that someday it was going to be worth a lot of money (no lie, this is why the “a” in my first name is capitalized in my signature. I wanted it to be unique). It made me feel good to know that my family, friends, school, or anyone else looked at me this way. After graduating high school I went to work (actually I failed out of college after trying for 18-months but...long story). I turned my attention from the athletic person to the person climbing a ladder and make something of myself. I wanted to make as much money, get as much power, take whatever position I could to make that who I was. It defined me...just as athletics did in high school. That career pursuit was who I was for twenty years. I was on a course to be the best within my career. Funny...the higher I climbed that ladder the harder I worked to grab the next rung.
I constantly consumed my life in defining who I was. Have you ever felt that way in your own life?
We all have these deep seated needs within us that have to be filled. I believe God intentionally placed a hole in each person’s heart with these needs to be filled. The journey is how we fill them. There are four needs that every human being has in their life. It doesn’t matter who you are...you have these needs that you want filled. Our life is lived pursuing and filling these needs. They have to be met because there’s a void if they aren’t met. Many times we don’t know we are trying to fill them or what they are because they are subconsciously happening. This is how ingrained they are in us. If we are trudging through life trying to fill these needs then what are they? How do we fill them?
Fortunately for us...the Bible helps us answer these questions. The real question is will we submit to God’s word or “go-it” on our own? That’s for you to answer BUT I want to take these needs and unpack what the Bible says. Let’s do this one-at-a-time! Today let’s explore that first need in our life. A God-given need that fills a piece of that hole in our heart.
One of our greatest human needs is identity. We want to know who we are. Who am I? That’s an enormous question that all of us ask many times within our lives...consciously and subconsciously. Have you ever asked yourself that question? Stop...what is your answer to this question...your honest answer? How have you identified yourself? Culture drives us to be as individualistic as we can. You be you! Whatever feels right to you is right. But is that really what the Bible teaches us.
God answers the question of our identity in the very first chapter of the Bible. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man[kind] in our image, according to our likeness…”. Think about that! The God of the universe made you in his image AND likeness. Psalm 139:14 (CSB) says, “I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made…”. The NIV says, “...fearfully and wonderfully made…”. Don’t get caught up in the differences in the versions because the word here is “to stand in awe of, be awed” so it works both ways. Think of this...you are created, remarkably, fearfully, and wondrously...in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God. God tells you from the beginning your identity. It is Him!
He created you to fill that void in your heart...to answer the burning question of who am I...with Him. He is your identity! You are made in His image and likeness. Do you live as if you are made this way? Or do you live for yourself holding your identity in the things of life? It is easy to identify yourself through life with things like sports, hobbies, family, or even our children (I can’t tell how many times I have felt that my identity is Gabriel’s dad instead of who I am). It is easy to identify ourselves with our careers, positions of power, materialistic possessions, or status within a community. Those are easy because they are visual to us everyday.
It is harder to wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say, “I am His! He created me in His image and likeness! I am remarkably and wondrously made! That is who I am!” If you haven’t done that, I challenge you to do that tomorrow. Wake up and say that. Better yet...wake up and say that to your spouse, children, or neighbors. See the response you get.