I read an article recently about identity crisis. According to google, an identity crisis is “a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.” As we grow older and mature, it is incredibly common for people to experience them. In fact, we are about to see the Corinthian church going through an identity crisis too. Today, as we read through 1 Corinthians 1, I wonder, do we know our spiritual identity? Is our identity in crisis?
If you are a Christian, meaning that you are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (v2), there is a very specific identity attached to you. Paul explains it very simply for us in verse 2. He says that we are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” Easy, right? Not so fast. Satan, and the world often conspire against us, creating confusion, even crisis. The Corinthian church, just like us, was confronted with situations that caused “uncertainty and confusion.” In short, they experienced an identity crisis. Thankfully, Paul, was one man with a clear understanding of his identity in Jesus. He used this clarity to remind and redirect the Corinthian church, the Christians, to the identity of Jesus. So, how do we get that same clarity?
Consider first that Paul’s certainty of identity carried a posture of gratitude and thanksgiving. It is not by accident that he starts the chapter (v4-9) giving thanks. There is, however, something special about his gratitude. Maybe you didn’t notice, but in those five verses, Paul references God nine different times! Clearly, Paul was clearly understood that if not for Jesus, we would all be lost. Therefore, his posture was one of continuous gratitude to Him, the giver of all good things. Contrast this with our own thanksgiving which is often based on our circumstances and materialism.
In addition to gratitude, Paul continually considered his position, relative to Christ. Re-read verses 10-17 paying attention to how the church is dividing. Member’s are attempting to elevate the positions of their favorite pastors, causing fights (v11). As this identity crisis begins to grow, Paul steps in. He knows positively where true hope and joy found; the cross of Christ Jesus (v17). He reminds the Corinthians that elevating any person above another will, in fact, “empty the cross of its power.” Jesus Christ, therefore, holds the primary and only position for Christians. As Christ-followers, we are all equal, under him.
Finally, Paul’s posture and position relative to Christ allow him to full embrace his purpose. Consider these three purpose statement from Paul, found in his writings:
- “that they may be saved” 1 Corinthians 10:33
- “to make the word of God fully known” Colossians 1:25
- “that we may present everyone mature in Christ” Colossians 1:28
Paul has such an intimate relationship with Christ that he knows, without a doubt, why he is on this earth. With this kind of certainty, identity crisis is impossible. In fact, our certainty and clarity becomes a beacon of hope and love to the world, just like Paul’s.
In the end we are either with Christ, or without him. When we, like Paul, fully embrace Christ, He is our identity. In him, there is no doubt, there is no circumstance that can cause us confusion. Crisis averted!