“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” -Revelation 12:11
There are many voices in society telling you who you are and who you are not. Messages come at us from every direction, dictating what we should believe and who we should become. We are in the middle of an identity war. Who is speaking the truth about us? “What is truth” (John 18:38)? It’s so easy to get lost in the conflicting beliefs and messages of this world. What we believe about who we are (our identity) is vitally important to every aspect of our lives because everything we do and say flows out of these beliefs. Do you believe you are a success or a failure? Are you worth loving or unworthy? You will live out your answers to these questions. Sometimes we have to block out the loudest voices begging for our attention in order to hear the still, small voice of God telling us who we really are (1 Kings 19:12). How can we know who we really are unless we get to know Jesus? It’s in him that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). When we know who he is, then we find who we were created to be: “children of God” (John 1:12). God has given each person their own unique identity. No two people are exactly the same. Each of us are incredibly loved by the Father God and infinitely valuable to him. There are aspects of God’s character and glory he wishes to express through each of our lives. Every life has a story. Every story is worth telling.
Our lives are full of all kinds of experiences. We come from families, communities and countries that shape our lives in both positive and negative ways. Every person on earth has experienced pain and sorrow. We have all experienced the goodness of God as well. Everyone has gifts and talents. We have faced various successes and failures. Every life can be redeemed by God no matter how many mistakes we’ve made or how much evil we’ve endured. God can use anyone’s life story to bring himself glory. We only have to be willing to surrender our pen to Jesus and let him be “the author and finisher” of our life (Hebrews 12:2). Laying down control allows God to turn even our darkest and scariest chapters into something beautiful. God wants to transform our lives and put our stories (testimonies) on display to give others hope, proclaim truth and demonstrate love. It’s time for us to speak up and tell our testimony. We must put God’s love and power on display. Let’s become “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3).
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the world telling me who I am and who you are. These loud-mouthed liars can be found in the media, in Hollywood, on social media and in the political arena (to name a few). They love to spew lies that cause identity confusion, division, hatred and self-loathing. Anyone who speaks lies about you and your identity is partnering with Satan, the father of lies himself. While speaking to evil, lying and manipulative people, Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Let’s choose not to believe and partner with lies. Instead, listen to and believe what God says about your identity. When we know who we are, then it becomes easier to see the God-given identities of others. Let’s speak the truth in love to others so they may come to know their true identity in Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Living out of our true identity brings joy, peace and freedom!
Two basic aspects of identity that Satan is attacking and twisting right now is our gender and our ethnicity. Gender is simple, yet Satan is trying to complicate it. Ethnicity is complex, yet Satan is trying to simplify it into black and white terms. Although these aspects of our identity can be interesting and are certainly given to us by God, they are far from being the most important parts of who we are. To uncomplicate the issue of gender, Genesis 1:27 states that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Ethnicity and race are far more complex issues than just determining the shade of someone’s skin. You could spend your whole life studying different civilizations, people groups, migration patterns, cultural development, DNA and family history and still not be able to grasp all there is to know about the ethnicities of people. I am tired of hearing that everything is a black and white issue when it comes to race. The people of the United States of America come from just about every country and continent on earth. We are a blend of cultures and DNA. To call someone simply white or black, does not honor someone’s story or family history. Many people who are considered “white” come from a variety of countries with different cultures and DNA. Many people who are considered “black” come from many different African nations and also have European heritage. Countless Americans have Native American ancestry as well, although if they’re not a member of a federally recognized tribe, they might be shamed for mentioning it. The truth is that race and ethnicity are not simple identity issues. We must all stop pointing fingers and judging one another. First, we need to spend some time seeking what God says about our identity and then explore our own family history with courage and honesty. We can learn to love every part of ourselves because Jesus does. He lovingly designed every square inch of who you are. Only when we receive God’s love for us can we figure out how to reconcile every difficult part of our own story and ethnic identity. When we learn to love ourselves, then we will be able to fulfill Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).
Spend time reflecting on your own life story this season. Take out your old family photos, recipes and heirlooms. Call a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin and ask questions about your family history. If you’d like help finding a family member or exploring your family history, my mom is an expert. You can contact Marquita Lucier at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Family Research” in the subject line. Your family history will contain aspects that make you proud and others that are difficult to handle. Take your tough questions to Jesus and work it out with him. Gain his heavenly perspective that is higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Ponder your own personal testimony. How has God brought you triumphantly though life’s battles? How did you feel at your lowest points? What brought you hope and inspired you to keep going? Who does God say you are? This is the season to share your story with the world. Do not be afraid to be seen. Maybe you need to start writing your testimony in a journal first. Perhaps you need to share your story on social media or with friends and family in person. How about creating a video or doing a live stream? What God leads each of us to do may be different from one another. Some of you will write a book or blog post. Perhaps you will share part of your testimony with your friends and family around a campfire. God is just looking for you to be willing. Saying “yes” will allow your story to impact and bless others for God’s glory. Our stories of truth will combat the enemy’s lies. Grab a pen and paper or laptop and dare to share what God has done in and through your life. It’s hard to defeat someone’s story. Remember that we will triumph over Satan’s lies by the blood of Jesus and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Let’s courageously open up and tell our story. We will reclaim the truth of our God-given identity and rise victoriously over every lie. Overcomers, go share, write and win!