Identity in Christ
Finding Identity and Helping Others
Who am I? Where do I fit in? What should I do in life?
These three questions are crucial in each of our lives, but especially for young adults and youth. In my life, finding where I fit in (belonged) is when I became more confident in myself! I strongly believe that where one fits in is where one's purpose and identity gets grounded. Let me shine a little light on this journey through these three questions from my own life.
In middle school, I started attending youth group. One week I showed up and my small group leader, Becky, could tell something was off. She NOTICED me and asked, “Lauren is everything ok?” I broke down and shared that my mom was very sick and I wasn't sure what to do.
Becky CARED for me at that moment and asked, “What can I do?” The only thing I could think of was, “You could help clean my house.” As a teenager, I did not believe she would show up. However, that next Friday Becky showed up and continued to be there every other Friday for months on end, until a little after my mom passed away.
Becky noticed me, cared for me, and showed to me God’s love through filling a need. She did not have all the answers for me but she was present and God’s love was made complete in her and I could see it. Prior to this time, I was not part of the youth group but I went for fun and crazy memories. Gradually, I saw Becky as someone I could trust because she filled a need and was present in my life in a small yet monumental way. I started to fit into the youth group. The big reason I felt like I BELONGED was Becky’s presence and love.
Becky has continued to SHOW UP in my life over the years for the valleys and the peaks of my life! She is alway present and loving!
She is how I saw God’s love in action and will never forget it!
Growing up, I found where I fit in (Belonging), where my identity lies (Identity in Christ), and to love others (Purpose) and all this started when I was NOTICED and CARED for by Becky.
Fuller Seminary has done an in-depth study on teenagers and came out with three main ideas which are very similar to the concepts I have walked through for myself and with youth over and over again with each person:
They came out with three key areas: Who am I? Identity View of ourselves
Where do I fit? Belonging Connection w/ others
What difference can I make? Purpose Contribution to world
Connection with others leads to a community to contribute to the world! I believe how we love the younger generation is meeting them where they are at! Not necessarily expecting them to come to the front door of the church. But going to their activities, taking time to be with them, and being present.
1 John 2:3-8
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
How are we to know the love for God is truly made complete in us? First, when we obey and know His Word, it allows us to see our identity is in Christ. When our identity is in Christ this will guide us to love others as God loves us. Others will then see the love in our lives through actions and words. We are to love one another! John repeatedly reflects on the concept of loving one another. Our greatest example of loving others comes from Christ’s life on earth. We are to walk as Christ walked.
To walk as Christ walked is not choosing 12 disciples, being crucified, and performing great miracles. But it is to love as he loved, identify a need and fill it, having others feel part of the community and having relationships with others and loving them where they are at.
Ever since Becky was there for me, I vowed to do the same for others. This picture below is of three young women and I. I have walked through the valleys and the peaks in their lives over the past 12 years. This picture was taken at the top of Black Elk Peak in South Dakota. The girl on the far right is one I reached out to while at the grocery store. All I did was take a step out and say, “Hi Natalie!” She asked, “You remember me.” I said, “Of course I do, you play basketball with Ali. I have seen you play.” The conversation continued for a while and she came to youth group the next week. She says she doesn’t know where she would be in life if that moment did not happen.
Who in your life do you need to be present for? Who in your life has a need either you can fill or find someone to help?
I ask these two questions because if you do not know a young adult or youth how can you be present with them. Maybe the first step is being present with some young people in your community.
Lord, may you give us eyes to see and ears to hear the young people in our community. May you give us patience to bring presence and love into their lives. Remind us we are not there to tell them how to live life but bring empathy and understanding to where they are currently at. May we come to know how to be a community where others fit in! AMEN!
Rev. Lauren Parliament
Future Leader Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains