Identity has an impact on our freedom to act. Throughout my life I have constantly struggled with a fear of what people think of me. That fear brought paralysis, teasing and so more paralysis . This paralysis leads to a prison; a bland life of nothingness.
Jesus, understanding His own identity had a remarkable freedom to act. In John 13 we read “Jesus, knew that the Father had put all things under His feet, and that He had come from God, and that He was returning to God so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around His waist.” So, from His sense of identity He was able to walk in true humility and serve. Philippians 2 reinforces this –
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
It seems that there are two points to our identity, one bound in heaven – a child of God, the other on earth – nothing, a servant. We must hold both of these in order to gain freedom.
My identity before God is that I am His son. He will always receive me. In Him I am secure. My true identity on earth is tied to a heritage: ‘The empty way of life handed down to me by my forefathers’ – nothing to boast about there.
When I try to make something of who I am I become bound by certain no-go zones. There are activities and appearances that are not fitting or not allowed.
If I am willing to receive the identity God has for me then I am free to make a fool of myself. However much others laugh, I know that God loves me and will vindicate me. Some time ago, my wife was running a seminar. For one part she had a boy who studies ballet, and needed him to teach a man some ballet steps. I took the role of the man. This turned out to be helpful in learning to live out this identity. In order to have the freedom to do the ballet steps, I had to ‘not care’ what anyone thought or said. Knowing the Father’s love, and that He would receive me, I could give it my all. Knowing that I am a servant, with no pretentions to uphold, I could give it my all. In some small way I could learn from Jesus ‘who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant’