The reason we as Christians often have an identity crisis is that we fail to realize all we have in the Gospel is a gift. Reflecting on the Gospel will always remind us of the gift of having our identity in Christ. John the Baptist was a great example of this. John the Baptist, when questioned who he was in John chapter 1, simply replied, “I am not the Christ.”
Leaders who subtly and foolishly believe that they are in control end up saying, functionally, “I am the Christ.” Yet a messiah complex has no place in Christian leadership. We've all seen those leaders, and many of us have been those leaders.
John the Baptist, a prophet and a forerunner, knew who he was... and in so doing, he understood exactly who he was not. He declared “I am not the Christ.” Later on he was beheaded for his prophetic role in the Kingdom. Yet here is an interesting note: Jesus in Luke 7:38 called John the Baptist the “greatest to ever be born among women.” That is an amazing compliment. He understood his identity, at least in part... And God honored him beyond expectation.
We have the privilege of more fully understanding the riches found in our identity in Christ than even John the Baptist did. This should bring us a greater security of God's love for us. Why? Because salvation is here. Our identity brings acceptance and security, and does so on the merit of Jesus alone. Jerry Bridges wrote this… “You are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less” (Transforming Grace p. 73).
It is to the degree that we understand our identity is in Christ that we will understand that our church, our leadership, and our position can be ultimately only rooted in Christ as well. We are rooted in his spiritual blessings for each one of us. As Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus in chapter 1 of Ephesians, we've been chosen (v. 4), graced (v. 6), redeemed (v. 7), reconciled (v. 10), destined (v. 11), and sealed forever (v. 13). Everything we need we possess in Jesus.
We must reflect on such great Gospel truths. This is our only security against narcissism. It is the only antidote to a messiah complex. It is the greatest weapon against idolatry, against placing our ultimate hope in our family, our job, our ministry, or our performance. Because when we reflect on the Gospel truth regarding our identity we don't have to rely any longer on our position or power, nor the praise of others, nor the popularity that we have pursued with reckless abandon.
Our identity is secure is Jesus, because we know not only who we are, but who we are not. And we are not the Christ.