If you a follower of Jesus, you find identity in being made in the image of God and being adopted as a child of God. This is what makes you special and sets you apart. However, identity theft is a real problem in our world. Has your identity as a Jesus follower been mistaken or even worse, has your identity been stolen?
Are you familiar with Britain Covey? If not, your first clue is to decide if Britain Covey is a person, place or thing. Britain Covey could definitely be a place – it sounds a lot like a nice suburban homes association. “Oh yeah, I had a friend who grew up in Britain Covey. He loved living in that neighborhood!”
Alas, Britain Covey is not a place…or thing. Knowing you can leave to google the answer for yourself, I’ll cut to the chase. Britain Covey is a person — a rookie NFL punt returner for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in his first home game for the Eagles just a few weeks ago, and Britain will never forget the game — for nothing that happened on the field.
Britain was on the practice squad (the B Team) for the Eagles up until the night before the game. He received the call up to the first team, and he showed the next morning, game day, to the team parking lot. At this parking lot, Britain encountered two problems: first, he didn’t have the proper identification to enter the parking lot, and second, the parking staff didn’t recognize this white man standing at 5’8’’ weighing 170lbs. He doesn’t look like an NFL player! After some discussion, the staff directed him to the closest fan parking lot…a quarter mile away, and Britain Covey walked to the game like every other “regular” person in the stadium.
Much worse than mistaken identity, though, is stolen identity. Identity theft is a rampant problem in the world today. In my home, we dealt with identity theft in 2021. Someone took my daughter’s identity tax fraud, and someone else stole my identity to claim unemployment.
Thankfully, these have been relatively easy to deal with on a personal level, but this isn’t always the case. I’m sure just like me, you have heard the horror stories of an identity stolen. Beyond the personal, on a global scale, identity theft is a massive problem (stats from IdentityTheft.org):
- Losses from identity theft cost Americans $5.8 billion in 2021
- The FTC received 5.7 million total fraud and identity theft reports in 2021
- Fraud cases are up 70% from 2020
- Fraud cases are up 1700% in the 20 years between 2001 and 2021
- There is a new identity theft victim every 22 seconds
The Upside Down World
Sometimes the physical world is a mirror to what is happening in the spiritual world. It reminds me of the premise behind the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things. Most people in the show worry about the problems happening in the small Indiana town of Hawkins, but the heroes battle in the “Upside Down” — the supernatural, unseen, other side of Hawkins.
In the physical world, unseen villains steal identities from the individual and the system. Likewise, In the spiritual world, an unseen villain is stealing identities from Christians (those made in the image of God and adopted as children of God). In the physical world, identity theft is destroying both individual bank accounts and world systems of finance. In the spiritual world, identity theft is blowing up the faith of individual followers of Jesus and eating away at the foundation of the church itself.
Identity: A Gen Z Crisis
Identity may be THE biggest issue facing this generation of Christians.
Gen Z is the label for the current youth generation. They are currently between the ages of 10 and 25 (born between 1997-2012). There are 68 million American Gen Zers (25% of the population). Gen Z is unique in several ways.
- Gen Z is the first non-white majority generation, and they celebrate diversity of every kind.
- Digital Natives is another title for Gen Z. They’ve only known a connected world. Though some in this generation are isolated from the physical world, they are connected via the digital world.
- Nones is another title for Gen Z. The majority of this generation don’t claim any religious background, and 16% consider themselves agnostic or atheist.
- Gen Z follows in the footsteps of their parents, Generation X and their aunts, uncles and mentors, The Millennials.
- Generation X is generation of cynics.
- Millennials are relative in their belief systems (truth is fluid).
Because of all of these factors – raised by cynics, taught there are no core truths, diversity celebrated, the digital world at our fingertips, and the lack of a spiritual foundation – shape identity in a thousand different ways. Most of which diminish how the Bible defines our identity – as made in the image of God and adopted as children of God.
My First Identity
For example, culture tells me I identify FIRST as a white, male, heterosexual, father of four, husband of a female wife, American, SKC fan, pastor, member of Cross Points Church. Each is true, but as a follower of Jesus they don’t define me. Christians find identity FIRST in being made in the image of God and being adopted as a child of God. In fact, there are times when I must lay down any and every other identity to be true my Christian identity.
Therefore, I am excited with what I have to share with you over the next few posts. Come back to read about what it means to be made in the image of God and adopted as a child of God. Then read about how to know if your identity has been stolen. Finally, make sure to visit in a few weeks to know how to regain what Satan is trying to steal from you (empty yourself, be filled with the Holy Spirit, embrace Scripture).
Whatever you do, don’t forget that as a follower of Jesus, you are made in the image of God and you are adopted as a child of God!