Reflections on Identity

Summer Devotional 2023

Getting Started 

Have you ever played musical chairs? Imagine you are one of the last two left in the game. It’s down to you and one other person. As you’re running around the final remaining chair, the music that is playing suddenly stops and only one of you will get the chair. That is how I think we look at the concept of identity and worth sometimes. It’s almost as if we believe there’s a limited number of people who get to sit in the chair and be affirmed as good, worthy, accepted, and approved. Sometimes it feels like there is just one seat of acceptance in this world and we’re all fighting for it until suddenly the music gets cut off and we aren’t the one sitting in the chair. We are devastated and feel so small as we see others get the recognition we long for.

We all choose different ways to prove ourselves as worthy. Maybe you feel good about yourself when you get excellent grades in school.  Maybe you feel good about yourself because you were accepted into the best program in your school. Maybe you feel good about yourself because you got a promotion at your job. Maybe you feel good about yourself because your friends, your family, your church community, or your InterVarsity community likes you. Whatever seat you try to make for yourself, it’s always temporary. Soon enough it fails you and you’re left feeling less than and looked over.

Our passage today comes from Ephesians 2, read it below and reflect on the questions attached as you think about where your worth comes from. 

Ephesians 2:2-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does this passage say about the way people used to live when they were disconnected from God?

  2. According to the passage, why did God show love and mercy to humanity?

  3. How might the concept of being "dead in transgressions and sins" relate to your sense of self-worth as a college student?

  4. In what ways does the passage highlight the significance of faith and grace in the process of salvation? 

  5. How can understanding God's love and grace influence the perception of your self-worth?

  6. Considering the passage, how might your view of self-worth change when you realize it is not based on your achievements or efforts, but on God's grace?

  7. What practical steps can you take to shift your focus from seeking self-worth through worldly measures to finding it in your identity as God's handiwork, created for good works?

Closing Reflection

It isn’t a bad thing to have community acceptance or success in your job. But when your self-esteem is linked to achievements, it's like playing musical chairs for your worth. Not to mention, it’s a fight for your worth that you can never win. Because it isn’t your fight. It is God’s fight. You are His creation, created in advance for good works (Ephesians 2:10). You are His Masterpiece. His delight. His child.

The truth is none of us are worthy to sit in the chair and be approved. We would all lose if there were a real game we were fighting in for our worth. The book of Romans says, “[We} all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”(Romans 3:23)  Fortunately for you and me, it doesn’t stop there because someone did play the game and win, it was Jesus Christ. He won and then he created another seat just for you. The book of Romans goes on to say, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). 

Therefore, in Christ you are already in the seat. As today’s passage says, “you are seated with Christ.” As you start a new school year, when you hear the music of this world begin to play, and you start to run around looking for the right chair to sit in, remember Jesus saved a seat for you. 

About the Author
Campus Staff Minister

New York University

Comment via Facebook