What defines your identity? Oftentimes we consider our identity as individuals, resulting in a strict individualism that seeks to see our complete identity as an inward trinity – me, myself, and I. However, as followers of Messiah Jesus, our identity is twofold: our identity is both in who God has made us individually as well as who God has made us communally. Part of what makes us us is that we are all sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, all within the family of God. We have been designed to be a part of a family, both physically and spiritually.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 that our identity is within the body of Christ; our identity is in our unity. Similarly, in Ephesians 4:15b-16, Paul says we were not created to be islands, isolated in life, but rather we were created as a unique part within the greater body of Christ. A single body part is no good by itself; we need the body as a whole to understand our identity within the kingdom of God. We, as a collective body in Christ, were created as a part of our identity to be united together.
It is easy to forget this communal identity while living in a society that highlights individualistic values, but part of our redemption and living as a new creation is recognizing God’s design in creating us with an identity that is shared within and amongst the entire body of Christ. Our gifts, resources, and blessings from God are both simultaneously and uniquely our own and the body’s.
Why is it important to see our identity in our communal unity?
1) It reflects the Trinity – one God, three Persons.
2) It is the truest way to live out the fullness of our humanity – to be fully human means to live within a diverse community. This takes us back to the beginning in Genesis where God says it is not good for man to be alone and splits man into two – man and woman. Man and woman are diverse and at the same time unified as humans. Each of their identities are uniquely different and simultaneously the same in unity.
3) It reminds us that we are not alone. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves, which is a core human need.
4) It lifts our eyes from self-consumption and reminds us of the truth that our life is not just our own; our life is also a part of our communities. Our lives belong to each other.
In what ways can you start to see your identity not only as an individual but also as a part of the family of God?
- Intellectually (mind):
- Meditate on 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 & Ephesians 4 to remind yourself that your identity is in our unity together as the body of Christ.
- Practically (body):
- Serve, listen, weep, laugh, grow together as a body. Be selfless, grateful, and loving. The body of Christ is a part of our identity.
- Privately (soul):
- Pray. Pray and listen to the Spirit – the Spirit that is with each member of the family of God, individually and as one.