Ever been ashamed of who you are… or wondered if you were Native enough? Whether it’s skin color, blue eyes, blood quantum, or living off the rez, some people are wondering who they are and where they fit in. Acceptance can be hard to come by. Paul, a mixed-blood Yupik from Alaska, remembers having to fight non-Natives in school while at the same time facing prejudice from the Natives he thought would accept him. He describes his experience this way, “To the Native I was a white person, but to the white person I was a Native… so I was right in the middle… we were rejected by our own family even now today because of the mixed blood.”
You don’t have to have “mixed blood” like Paul to feel the scorn of others. It’s a cruel world and people are being rejected for all sorts of reasons all the time. Often, it’s over things that are outside of a person’s control… like what you look like, who your parents are, where you were born and raised… even historical events before your time. Whatever the reason may be, rejection cuts deep and can cause great pain.
But here’s the good news – God created us for a relationship with Him. When we are walking with Him we have all the acceptance we need – regardless of how others relate to us. It really is a wonderful experience.
Sadly, many Christians struggle with belonging. When we do, it’s usually a case of misplaced identity. Like those who don’t walk with God, we can find ourselves measuring our worth by what other people think… and seek acceptance by trying to conform to their expectations. It’s tempting to be something that we’re really not. It’s also easy to dismiss others because they aren’t who we think they should be. If you’re struggling with any of these issues, God wants you to understand the truth.
He wants you to know that the world will not accept you if you’re going to follow Jesus as you should. Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3). And, He told His followers to expect the same. (John 15:18-19). To pursue acceptance by the world is futile for the one who wants to follow Jesus without reservation.
He wants us to know that He has accepted us… and that’s all that matters. Our true worth is not measured by what others think about us. It’s not found in the color of our eyes or skin. It has nothing to do with our cultural heritage. It is found in Christ. Yes, people make distinctions. But God doesn’t. The simple truth is that if you’ve trusted in Jesus, you belong to God. There is no greater identity that you can have. Here is what God says about the matter (emphasis added):
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Galatians 3:26-28 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Colossians 3:2-3 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
Do we really understand and believe this? Is it enough to belong to God or do we seek something more? What Jesus did for us at the cross should settle the question of identity completely. It’s there where we see how much God loves and values us. He sent Jesus to die for us so that we could escape the judgment we deserve and live with Him forever. Think about it. God wants us to be with Him forever. That’s love! That’s acceptance! That’s identity! Why do we need to go looking anywhere else? And what does it say to Him when we do?
In first century Israel there lived a man named Saul. He was an up-and-coming religious leader who had everything going for him. He had the right teacher, the right credentials, and lots of ambition. But something happened to him on the road to Damascus that would change his life forever. He met Jesus. Saul humbled himself, believed, and became a child of God. In that moment his identity and purpose changed. He became a new creation. He even took on a new name. We know him as the Apostle Paul. Though from a human perspective he had much to be proud of, he made it clear that those things were no longer the basis of his identity. In fact, they were worthless compared to knowing Christ. Listen to his words to the Philippians: If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ – Philippians 3:4b-8 (ESV)
What about you? Are you placing your identity in something other than Christ? If so, you’ll be disappointed in the end. If you’re struggling with who you are, or if you have found your worth in other things, take another look at the One who died for you. Consider the love and acceptance He has for you. What are you going to do with it? If you’re going to identify with Christ don’t expect to find acceptance from the world. And don’t look to be embraced by believers who measure themselves and others by the world’s standards. Simply believe and rest in the full acceptance that you have in the One who died for you. Find your life in Him. Live your life for Him. And when the voices come that question who you are… tell them you belong to Jesus.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.