The headline was attention-grabbing – “Identity Theft Escalates.” The accompanying article states that last year over ten million Americans had their identity stolen and that the dollar loss amounted to over 50 billion dollars – fifty billion! We are told the probability is that even now criminals possess your social security number, your bank account number and pin number, your driver’s license number and credit card numbers and even know your mother’s maiden name. They are willing to sell these to predatory business for less than ten dollars. It is reasonable that we should have some apprehension of theft of our identity.
Literally, no one can steal our identity in the sense that it is defined as the total distinguishing characteristics and personality of an individual. Identity is who we are. We have become who we are by birth and the subsequent molding through what we have allowed to influence us. We allow experiences to shape us. We read and listen. We strive for ideals. We open ourselves to instruction. If we are Christians, we allow the power in the Word of God to mold us. We set Christ in our minds as an ideal. Then we try to imitate His example. We try to nurture the good and stifle the evil tendencies we all have. And, presto, there emerges an individual whose distinctive characteristics and personality define who we are. No one can steal that identity. But there are daily attempts and onslaughts by Satan to rob us of it by hook or crook.
Identity can be complex but it can be explained in a few simple words. When his terrified shipmates wanted to know who Jonah was he replied. “I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) That can explain it all if one’s life is consistent with the statement. Like Jonah, the Apostle Paul also was on a ship that was about to founder. To his unfortunate companions Paul said, “I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not…” Acts 27:22-24. His acknowledgement that he belonged to God and served Him told it all.
“I am a Christian” should adequately explain one’s identity. If one is truly a Christian, you know about his honesty, his language, and his treatment of his fellowman and his family. Too often, our Christian identity is stolen or at least bartered away. Satan is always in the market for the Christian’s identity. It must be guarded carefully and never surrendered.