Owned by Identity, Bought by a Savior
by John UpChurch
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Arguments about "identity" should end at this verse. For non-Christians, it’s meaningless noise. For Christians, it’s everything. We own nothing from our hair follicles to our toenails. Every drop of cytoplasm, every hormone, every spark of our synapses was paid for in full. Christ didn’t die for the “good” parts or the parts we let Him have; He wanted all of us.
That’s why it makes no sense for us to justify what’s natural or what makes us happy or what satisfies us. To do so breaks us into pieces, compartmentalizing where we will and will not surrender, what we will and will not hand over to Christ. But the choice isn’t ours. The price paid was for the whole shebang.
The heart loves to mass-produce idols, and identity works just as well as anything else. Deep inside, the hammers of what’s just and fair and right beat in time with our resistance to surrender. We know who we are, and we can’t change.
But the possibility of change is completely beside the point. Even if no change comes before the perfect does (1 Corinthians 1:10), even if the desires never stop, we have no room to act on them or justify them. We have no ownership in ourselves. Not even a partial vacation stake.
It all belongs to Jesus.
Christ urged us to follow Him with the heavy weight of lumber slung across our shoulders (Mark 8:34). That image is one of ownership. Why else would we take up humiliation and hardship to struggle after a bloodied Lamb? It isn’t an image of coercion, but of willingness. Just as the Messiah surrendered Himself to be crucified, we crucify ourselves to admit surrender.
The arguments about orientations or ingrained needs or natural behaviors focus on one thing: us. They point to who we are and what we want. Put succinctly, such discussions are nothing more than navel-gazing. We’re peering down at what makes us tick and letting that determine our course.
And ultimately, none of it matters. That navel we’re peering so deeply into belongs to Christ. He bought it.
We’ve got genes. They’re Christ’s. We’ve got a past. It’s Christ’s. We’ve got failures and foibles and more twisted thoughts than we know what to do with. And they’re hammered to the cross. The ownership of a Savior sidesteps any arguments about identity because our true identity starts and ends with who we are in Christ. It undercuts any passionate defense of “who I am” because who we are is His. Nothing should come between us—the purchased—and the One who took care of the bill.
We must not let the clanging of our idol-making heart drown out the call of Christ to follow how He leads.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Salvation is free, but following Jesus isn’t. The cost isn’t in wealth or doing enough good stuff. It’s sacrifice—the willful surrender of even some of our most cherished beliefs about ourselves and what we need. When we come to Christ but refuse to surrender it all, we’re like the rich man who couldn’t bear the thought of empty pockets (Matthew 19:16). We’re not all in.
However you identified yourself before you got blisters from hauling around your cross, that identity is now the old identity. You gave it up to the One who paid up. You’re His. You’re new.
For Further Reading
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."