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Identity

In the spring of 2006, Linda Avey, Paul Cusenza, and Ann Wojcicki met together to discuss how they could market personal genomics and biotechnology to the consumer market. Based in the fertile tech environment of Santa Clara County, California, the company they formed would provide genetic testing and genealogical DNA research for the individual consumer. Though there would be bumps along the way, the company they formed, 23 and Me, would eventually boast over 5 million customers and be valued at over $1 billion, allowing individuals to learn about their genetic health and ancestry; about who they are at the cellular level.

 

Identity matters.

 

Though the term has become a buzzword, there is certainly power behind knowing who we are as a community and as individuals. Knowing who we are provides a bedrock that remains firm and allows us to base our decisions and choices on something other than immediate pressures and shifting winds.

 

As Christians, our identity needs to come from somewhere other than ourselves. Simply crafting for oneself an identity based on whims or even strongly held beliefs will always leave us wanting when the pressure on our life becomes too great.

 

After enumerating his familial and liturgical resume, Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, states: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul’s identity was not rooted in anything that he brought to the table either in lineage or personal achievements. Instead, his entire identity was contained in knowing and being known by Christ.

 

Knowing our identity in Christ provides us with the foundation to live a life as foreigners and exiles in this world. Only when we are rooted to the person of Jesus Christ can we navigate the affairs of the day. By understanding what is true of us as children adopted into the family of God we can navigate the challenge and nuance of living out that truth.

 

Beyond this, an understanding of our identity provides a greater impetus for behavioral change than willpower or discipline ever could. These efforts, as necessary as they are, must be bound in an understanding of our place as believers. The early Christians, who heard and treasured their Lord’s parting assertion that they “will be my witnesses” naturally bore this out in the way they established the church and became evangelists for their risen Lord. In the same way, an understanding of who we are in Christ will organically influence our actions and decision-making. Once we know who we are, we are then free to live out that identity.