A recent TCU Basketball Instagram post read, “Basketball – It’s not who I am, it’s what I do with who I am.” What makes up our identity – who we are? Let’s start by looking at three different definitions from the dictionary:
- Identity: The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
- Ability: possession of the means or skill to do something, or, talent, skill, proficiency in a different skill or area.
- Role: the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.
I want to break those three things down and talk about how we sometimes take our ability and role and make them our identity.
I grew up playing lots of sports – basketball, soccer, softball. I loved sports, but, I also put my identity in them. Meaning, I found my worth in how people thought that I played. So if I had a great game, I was doing well. If I had a bad game, I thought I was the biggest failure. Playing soccer in college I was consumed with stats even over wins and losses. My senior year, I was receiving accolades, awards, all of this recognition, but at the end of the day it was unsatisfying. All at once the season ended, and I realized that I was not a soccer player anymore. I had an identity crisis – thinking, are people going to like me, are people going to see me for who I really am?
So a couple of years ago, I met a lot of friends who told me they couldn’t care less if I was a collegiate athlete, or about any of my accomplishments, they just wanted to know who I was in Christ. I couldn’t believe it. People wanted to know me for me? The Lord told me, “Natalie – that’s how I see. I just want you for you, and not for what you think you can bring to the table. I just want you – raw, uncut, nothing else, you can’t do anything that would make me love you any more or any less.” It was so freeing in that moment to go, “Ahhhh, OK. My identity is in Christ, rooted in Christ, not in all these other things.” If we put our identity in something like soccer, it will come to an end. If we put our identity in anything but Christ it will end – it will fail us – it will break down.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them
God created the universe, all things, and made mankind in His image. We are the only beings made in His image. Unique. It says in scripture that he knit us together in our mother’s womb. He took time on us. Our identity is in Christ because he created us.
I Corinthians 12:12-27
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
This verse is such a beautiful picture of teamwork. These verses talk about the church, and they are saying that everybody is different. Our abilities are different – we have different talents and skills, we all play different positions on our teams, and have different roles. And even those roles can be interchanging. Sometimes we have injuries. You sit out. Your goal changes – not to say you’re not part of the team, you might feel like your role is less dignified, but your role is just as important to be on the sidelines and be an encourager and motivator. Ask yourself, what can my role be today? How can I be a team player with the abilities God has given me? It says in the Bible that the Church is one body, and so it is with basketball, or soccer, or any other sport. There is one team, with different abilities and different roles on that team. Do you know what your role is on the team? Going back to your identity, do you think you see yourself for who you are, or for who others have told you you are? Do you have a grasp on the abilities and talent that you have been given, or are you relying on input from others?
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Many people were guessing about who Jesus was, but Peter said he was Christ. So many people can say different things about you – different things about who they think you are. Don’t believe those lies – go back to the truth. One of my favorite quotes is “Our behavior follows our belief.”
To close, where is your identity rooted? Is it in your abilities, or something else that is deeper? How can you be a better teammate knowing the foundation of your identity? How can you use your abilities and roles for the best of the team?