Hating the Mirror: A Solution to the Identity Crisis and Self-Perception

Yes, Mr. Identity Crisis. We’ve all heard about him. Some of us have met him and know him pretty well. He isn’t like his brother Mr. Midlife Crisis, who only strikes when you’re halfway to death. Instead, Mr. Identity Crisis assaults people of all demographics and all occasions. He shows no partiality!

Look, we’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled with our self-image in the past and it has affected how we live our lives. And for some of us, the identity crisis has come back to haunt us. We look into the mirror and we are just disgusted by what we see. We feel like we aren’t content with our situation in life or with what is happening around us. Maybe we want people to like us, but they don’t. Our looks and appearances are subpar and we would never enter a beauty contest. We don’t have what others have like the all the fun toys or that special someone who loves you and wants to marry you.

Nope, we don’t have those things. And it makes us sad. Actually, it makes us really really sad.

So, now what do I do? Well, having an “identity crisis” is quite common in society, even amongst evangelicals. But in search for a solution to this problem, we want to ask these questions: “How does God want us to view ourselves? What are we to think about when we look at the mirror?”

There are many so-called solutions to this problem of “self-image.” Some may tell you to love yourself more or to think positively and to find the good things in your life. While I don’t necessarily disagree with those things, we do need to be careful to not have an overinflated perception of our self-understanding. Life is not about us. The chief end of man, as it has been stated, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But in our view of self, I want to propose to you another way we can cure the disease of the identity crisis.

In our exegesis of Ephesians class, we covered Ephesians 1:18. And this verse has a lot to say about our sense of worth before the eyes of God.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (emphasis added, Eph 1:18 NAU)

Here are 3 observations we can take from the text:

  1. The Wealth the Inheritance (“riches”)
  2. The Possessor of the Inheritance (“His inheritance”)
  3. The Location of the Inheritance (“in the saints”)

After Paul states how he wants the Ephesians to know God, he now begins to give the reasons for that knowledge. First, they needed to see the “hope of His calling” (v. 18). Second, they needed to see the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” And this portion of the verse will be the focus of our time.

Here, Paul’s intentions are for the believers to acknowledge how God’s perception of them. He explains to the church that God considers them as His rich inheritance. The verse doesn’t just say believers are any old inheritance, but Paul highlights that they are an inheritance of great worth or abounding riches. And that is how God sees us! A verse like this just shows our value before God. It shows how much He cherishes us as His inheritance and prizes us. Israel was seen as God’s special treasure because God sees His people as an inheritance.

This is no way states that we are worthy of this (because we are not), but it merely stresses how much God treasures His inheritance, and His inheritance is located in the saints of God. In other words, we are defined as His inheritance.

This is mind boggling! We can obviously understand how God can be an inheritance to us (we have much more to value in gaining God Himself). But how can God value such wretched, depraved, and worthless sinners such as us? It is by the work of Christ where we are able to be cleansed and made valuable in sight of God. There isn’t anything we have done to deserve such a treatment.

Some Christians have a very poor image of themselves and they relapse in a depressed state because their minds are not oriented toward this truth. They don’t see themselves as they should in Christ. They look to other things like their outward appearances, their personality, their material possessions, and their amount of friends for their source of self-worth. They use wrong things to define themselves. But that is not where God wants us to look. God does not want us to find self-worth in superficial substances, but He wants us to take joy in the fact that we are valued and loved by Him.

So the next time you have an identity crisis, don’t go to the self-help books or an article that gives you “10 ways to love yourself.” Take to heart your identity in Christ. When you don’t feel content with who you are, reflect on this passage and remember that you are God’s inheritance. He values you as His child.

However, if you are not saved today, you cannot claim this self-image. So I encourage you to trust in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross for forgiveness and reconciliation, only then can you claim a self-image that will not fade away. You will be valued by God like He values His only Son.

Here is Hoehner: “To summarize, Paul prayed that we would come to know God more intimately in order that we might know the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints. It shows that the believers are valuable to God because he purchased them in order to inherit them. This inheritance will be fully realized in the future. Therefore, whereas the hope that was produced by his calling looked back to the past, his inheritance in the saints will be fully realized in Christ’s coming to get his saints.”[1]

[1] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, p. 267.

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