By Teresa Anstatt
In the action film series, The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne, an unstoppable assassin for the CIA, is on a rogue quest to discover his true identity and untangle himself from an evil conspiracy. Formerly known as David Webb, a man who was moved to sacrificially join the military and serve his country, he involuntarily becomes the executioner known as Jason, after being mistreated and brainwashed by the government.
Although once named David (meaning “beloved”), he is deceived into adopting a false identity. When the proverbial blinders fall from his eyes, however, he sets out on a mission to discover his true identity and receive justice.
Movies like this one are so engaging because we feel a connection with the main character or his experience that deeply resonates with our own.
Like David Webb, Christians understand that they are created for love and not for a legacy of death. However, Christians often, like Jason, not fully understanding how or why, find themselves tangled in a web of lies that they helped to spin, in part being brainwashed by the false images of success and self-worth that our society promotes.
But of course, Jesus, in hot pursuit, reminds us of His ways in His Word and through His Spirit, and begins to cut away at these webs, by His grace, to keep us on the narrow road to all life and godliness.
In fact, this battle for our hearts and minds over our true identity is the daily predicament of every believer. Because all lies take form or flight in the mind, Christians must first determine daily what messages to believe and what to reject—what is life-giving and what isn’t.
At times, the opportunity for both narratives to take root simultaneously in our hearts can result in great confusion over our true identity as beloved children of the King of Heaven.
Our first line of defense is remaining free in Christ, taking “every thought captive” and frequently tending the garden of our hearts (2 Corinthians 10:5), weeding out the thorns (the lies about our Heavenly Father and His intent for us) and nurturing the flowers (the beautiful truths of the gospel) that grow there. Only then can we stand firm in our identities as “co-heirs with Christ” and reject any lies stating that identity is grounded in what we accomplish, how we look, or what we attain rather than who we belong to (Romans 8:17).
We can’t begin to gain ground in this daily battle, however, unless we are supernaturally born again and have a revelation regarding His great love for us (John 3:3). The key to remaining passionate and hopeful in the very real drama for our souls in the spiritual realm lies in being rooted in our true identity based on His identity. We must first see God as our Creator, our Father, and Redeemer and His nature as light, life, and love (1 John 4:8). We can then trust Him and begin to adopt His perspective, seeing ourselves as having immeasurable worth in His eyes, as outlined in Matthew 10:30: “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Additionally, in Ephesians 2:6-7, we are told that God has “raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” As such, our identity as precious children of God and our position as seated with Him in heavenly places become the springboard from which we begin practicing the spiritual disciplines outlined in scripture successfully.
And why is that? It’s because this mindset allows spiritual disciplines to shift from a striving toward an experience of spiritual blessing to righteousness in Christ. We can access intimacy with God and realize the greatest freedom in becoming our best selves through our birthright and royal privilege and not through any works we perform.
Spiritual disciplines are not a formula to get right, whereby all of your dreams magically come true. The purpose of these tools is to give the disciple a path toward exploration of the wisdom of those who have already gained passage to living heaven on earth through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
As the old hymn says, “take time to be holy,” not take time to get holy! This quest of purpose in “becoming” is not a heroic journey to save or better oneself by doing good. It is a lifestyle lived in gratitude of God’s wonderful gift of salvation. It is also—like a marriage—a process of learning more and more the nature of the One your heart loves. It is this revelation and enjoyment of the Company that we keep that mobilizes us toward our great destiny and the good works that He has planned for us since the dawn of time (Ephesians 2:10).
From this perspective, Christians can arise in the morning to train to reign, not try. We can, like David Webb, strengthen our bodies, minds, and spirits to fight the ever-waging war against our true enemy, outlined in Ephesians 6: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Like Jesus, we can be excited each day to spend time with the Father and go about His work.
While we may lose sight of this grand story at times, we can depend upon the Holy Spirit to constantly remind us of who we are in Christ and prompt us to explore the extremely satisfying life of discipleship, making war on any false narratives that arise until that glorious day when the kingdom of heaven is established here on earth for all eternity.
Understanding our born identity and the victory that has already been written for us is where we begin our spiritual journey, but it is also the culmination of our quest—when our story finds its completion in His story on the day when love wins once and for all.