“What do you do?” she asked Mary. Mary hesitated and mumbled under her breath, “Nothing.”. Mary hoped her friend didn’t hear her response. The reason for Mary’s embarrassment is that she had recently lost her job at a leading institution in the country. After a decade of work, Mary was laid off. But now, when asked about her job, she felt embarrassed because she didn’t have one. Mary felt like she had lost her identity.
We often associate appliances with the work they perform, such as calling a machine that washes clothes a “washing machine”. This notion has infiltrated our views of people, including ourselves, and we often perceive our identity and worth based on our profession, designation, accomplishments, and the organisation we work for.
Unfortunately, with the current news, thousands of people have been laid off from work. Large corporations have let go of many of their employees, and some of them have worked hard for their company for years, only to be laid off in a matter of minutes through a phone call, email, or even on Zoom. Does this mean our friends have lost their identity because they have lost their job? What about those who are now retired or seeking work after resigning? Have they lost their identity as well? The answer is “No”. If we define our identity and value based on our job, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Timothy Keller, a theologian, writes, “When work is your identity, success goes to your head, and failure goes to your heart.”
So what is our true identity?
The foundational truth of the Christian faith is that humanity’s identity is being made in God’s image. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Being made in the likeness of God gives us a unique identity. It sets us apart from the rest of creation. We are rational beings and have the ability to think. We are creative, which gives us the capacity to paint or play music. We are moral beings and have an ingrained moral compass. We are social and therefore enjoy being with people. Our intrinsic value and worth stem from being made in the resemblance of our Maker. Unfortunately, due to our disobedience and rejection of what is good, we do not reflect the Creator, and consequently, Christ came to redeem and restore us to our original identity and the identity of being called the children of God.
If we are seeking our true identity, we need to remember that our identity is based on who we are and not what we do. It is who we are that ought to define what we do.
Originally published at Life Focus Society. If you have been encouraged by this post, please share it with a friend. Thank you.
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