Therefore, if anyone is I Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away,
and look, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
In today’s world, we are being told so many things about what our identity is, or what it should be. One secular author defines identity as, “who we experience ourselves to be – the I each of us carries within”. Finding our identity is nothing new. In fact, did you know that many of the people in the Bible also struggled with finding their identity? Some of them messed up really bad and yet, somewhere along the way, they were able to grasp the truth that though they did mess up, God still loved them. They understood that their true identity was found in Christ, and when they began to walk in this truth, God used them to lead others to Christ.
One of those people is Paul. Paul the Apostle, is considered by many scholars to be one of the most influential leaders in the early Christian church. He was a well-documented missionary, spreading the gospel of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles alike and wrote half of the New Testament. Paul was the son of a Jewish Pharisee and at birth he was given the name Saul. But did you know that Saul actually began his work as a crusader against Christians. He spent years causing pain and destruction, and even death for followers of Christ. He had identity struggles. He identified as evil and hate.
Among the many terrible things that Saul and his followers did was that he was the instigator and gave the approval of the stoning of Stephen.
In the beginning, Saul identified with cruelty and hate, but something happened that changed him. He was challenged when He was called to become a leader, writer, and speaker of the truth. You see, Saul came face to face with God while on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:4-6 says, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” At that moment Saul asked, “Lord what do you want me to do?” I find this statement kind of amusing because you see, God already knew what Saul was doing, but his question to Saul, caused Saul to really STOP and THINK. God had to get his attention. How many times has God had to do that to you?
So what can we learn from Paul? From the moment of Saul’s encounter with God, Saul changed his direction, and was transformed. He began to embrace his true identity with a new name, Paul. Instead of being defined by evil, he began to be defined by God. His work and writings now classify him as a true Biblical hero with an identity firmly planted in Jesus.
When we think about people in the Bible who struggled with their identity, it is amazing to me that the list would include Paul. But the one thing that Paul had in common with others that struggled with their identity, is that they all met with God. That meeting changed everything about them. They learned that their identity was found in Christ.
Are you listening to what the world has to say about your identity, or have you stopped to listen to what God is telling you? Our true identity as Christians can only be found in Christ.
Written by: Sharon Samplaski