After they won the silver medal in synchronized platform diving at the recent Olympics, David Boudia and Steele Johnson were interviewed by a reporter for NBC. They expressed their joy over winning the medal but they made clear it wasn’t the most important thing in their life. Their joy and and their sense of who they are was not determined by whether or not they won a medal.
Boudia spoke of how if he went into the competition thinking he was defined by his diving “then my mind goes crazy. But (Steele and I) both know that our identity is in Christ.” Johnson added, “The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ, and not what the result of this competition is, just gave me peace.”
They don’t believe that now they are people of worth because they have an Olympic medal. They weren’t going to think they were worthless if they failed to get a medal. They know they are people of value because they are loved by Jesus.
It is tempting to look to what we do and the results that come from our efforts to find our identity. Some look to their job to define who they are. They work hard hoping success in the workplace and praise from others will help them feel good about themselves. Some parents look to their children to give them identity. If their kids are doing well they feel like a success, but if the kids are struggling the parents get tempted to feel like failures. Others look to a talent or ability they have and feel like they have value because of what they can do.
What happens when you can no longer do what you used to do? When your hard work and best efforts don’t meet with success by the world’s standards, do you still have value? If you lose your job or lose the competition, do you lose your worth?
We can find identity in Christ. We have value because God made us, Jesus died for our sins and has saved us to be His. Our worth is not determined by what we do but by what God has done for us in Christ. Our identity isn’t based on whether people like us or not, but on the incredible truth that Jesus loves us. For that reason we can have peace, whether the world judges us to be a success or a failure.
The Bible says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (I Peter 2:9). That is who we are by faith in Christ. We can rest in who He says we are. Sometimes the world chooses us and says we’re worthy of a medal. Sometimes it looks at us as unwanted failures. But we’re chosen by God. We belong to Him.
In the Gospel he was inspired to write John did not identify himself by name but instead identified himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20). That’s how we get to identify ourselves: not primarily by what we do or by our success or failure. By faith in Jesus you can look in the mirror and say: “What makes me, me? Who am I? I’m one that Jesus loves.”