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Justin was about four years old when he came to me, a bright little boy with a world of questions. We sat down on the edge of the couch together, and he shared with me his dream for the future. "When I grow up, Daddy, I want to be a lion."
I launched into a little lesson on Biblical anthropology. I attempted to help him understand the doctrine of creation and its specific implications for the identity of human beings. He seemed interested, but when I asked him if he understood what his daddy was trying to say, he looked up at me and said, "Yes, I do, Daddy. When I grow up, I'm going to be a giraffe!"
Little Justin is like all of us. We "know" that identity influences our thinking, our choices, and our behavior, but we have a hard time getting identity right. I call it Identity Amnesia - misunderstanding and replacing our identity in Christ.
Identity Amnesia is powerful and potentially destructive. Here's the critical issue: you either define yourself vertically, or you'll end up defining yourself horizontally. Horizontal identity is the subject matter we talked about the past four weeks - I Am my success, my relationships, my righteousness, or my possessions.
You might be asking, "What does it mean to define myself vertically?" Hear this - vertical identity is always rooted in worship. In fact, the Bible tells us that a true understanding of anything starts with acknowledging God. As the great Christian thinker John Calvin taught, there's no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.
It's only when you have God in His proper place and are celebrating who He is that you can ever truly know yourself. The theological principle is that knowledge of the Creator is fundamental to understanding the creation. To the degree that we've failed to worship God for who He is and what He has done, we'll take unseen identity confusion into life.
There are three pillars of worship that support a Biblical sense of vertical identity, and we'll tackle them in the upcoming weeks.
- How might you be defining yourself horizontally?
- How can you better define yourself vertically?
- How will knowing God more help cure Identity Amnesia?
Paul David Tripp