Our core is our identity. Our core is who we are. So, who are you? What’s your core? How do you determine who you are? Is it by your job, relationship status, wealth, fitness, youth…? Our culture screams to us to make our identity with the right clothes, car, hairstyle, and even our thoughts on equality, diversity, and more. Jesus knows this, and puts his finger on it repeatedly.
To the woman who complimented Jesus’ mother, Luke tells us this. As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed! But he said, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it! (Luke 11:27-29, ESV). In other words, thanks lady, but don’t build your identity on cultural values of bearing male children (as the Romans did – and we still do in many respects), build it on God.
To the rich young ruler who thought he had it altogether, Jesus says this: You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. (Mark 10:20, ESV). That is, stop building your identity on what you have – get your priorities straight. Build your life on me – follow me!
Even to believers, Peter reminds us to “Set apart Christ as Lord…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). Many focus on the second part of always being ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. While this is critical, Peter starts with identity in Christ. Peter is saying, “Know Christ deeply within your core first.” That’s your identity – your starting point. Then you’ll be prepared to give an answer, and to respond to the world.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, Jesus responded with the prayer that most of us know by heart, “Our Father.” Yes – our Father. He’s our dad. We’re His children – that’s our identity. Jesus is orienting his disciples (and us), reminding them of their true identity.
The world pulls at us. It tries to define our core identity – to box us in. It fights to make us slaves – do this, do that, then you’ll be good enough. Jesus says, die to all that, and the ways of this world – the new creation has begun. Die to your agenda. And come, come have Life in me. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35, ESV).
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson