Written by Lucas Heath
It’s hard to differentiate the voices we allow to define us. Television, movies, social media and other parts of our culture push us toward false realities and can make us feel bad about who we are—overshadowing the people God has called us to be.
I grew up as an only child in a Christian family and, for much of my childhood, my parents forced me to go to church. During my preteen and teenage years, I heard a lot about God, but never experienced the power of His transformation, nor did I trust in the reality of His love and support.
When I was 19, I had an encounter with God that transformed my life and thinking, sending me on a journey into uncovering my authentic identity in Christ. The truth is this: The enemy does not want you knowing who you are, because the moment you realize the reality of His love and the light you carry, you become a beacon of hope to others.
I’d be lying if I said the process of renewing our minds is easy. It is an unending journey throughout our lifetimes. However, experiencing the peace that passes all understanding when we know who we are—and Whose we are—is a great reward.
How do we tune out the noise and focus on the One voice who matters? How can we rest in the knowledge of who we are without being distracted by lies? For now, I want to focus on one aspect of identity which I believe is the most important.
In Genesis 1:27 we learn God made mankind in His image. To understand who we are, we must take the time to get to know God. What better person to study than Jesus, who is the perfect representation of an invisible God, as Colossians 1:15 says? If you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father, as Jesus says in John 14:9.
God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is not just something He does—it’s in the very fabric of His nature. Jesus demonstrated perfect love with every person He met. If God made us in His image, then He made us in the image of love, and Jesus’s example is one to follow.
But beyond what Jesus modeled, what does love look like? What are the practical applications? I want to clarify that this type of love is not a feeling or emotion. It is an active choice to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus. This love, agape, is unconditional, sacrificial love. The most encompassing description of agape love in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13.
- Love is large and incredibly patient.
- Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.
- It refuses to be jealous when a blessing comes to someone else.
- Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.
- Love does not traffic in shame or disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour.
- It is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
- Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.
- It is a safe place of shelter because it never stops believing the best of others.
- Love never takes failure as a defeat; it never gives up.
Walking in agape love is difficult. Jesus revealed that the two greatest commands are to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22). The problem we often meet is: How can we love our neighbour if we don’t love ourselves?
Our culture has taught us to hate ourselves if we don’t conform. Religion has become a system, trapping us in shame and condemnation because of our struggles and brokenness. I’ve dealt with this more than I care to admit. How can we love ourselves when we feel so dark and unlovable?
Here is the beauty of the gospel’s good news: When we accept Christ’s forgiveness, God sees us as who He calls us to be, not as who we are in this moment. He sees the end from the beginning and knows us deeper than we know ourselves. God does not focus on our darkness; He sees us through the finished work of the cross.
If we could believe and accept this truth, we can love our identity in Him, which allows us to love those around us, because we will view them with the same eyes and mindset.
You can only give love to the degree you receive it, and you can only receive love to the degree that you trust. Trust His finished work in you, no matter where you’re at with renewing your mind.
As a final thought, I’ll leave you with a prayer I pray often, one that has changed my life. “Jesus, teach me how to love You the way You love me, so I can love others the way You love them.”