Our identity is a complex and ever changing mix of who we are. Our emotions, achievements, ideas, and aspirations are all part of this mysterious identity we call self.
Every experience, every thought, every action helps to build who we are and we nurture these identities throughout our entire lifetimes.
But for believers, Jesus himself has determined our identity. He identifies his followers as “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14), and expects our behavior to reflect that truth to those around us.
Being “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” carries with it huge responsibilities for the believer. By using salt and light as metaphors, Jesus demonstrates how our identity in him should affect individuals and the world itself.
Salt has two important uses: as a preservative and for flavoring. Without it, food would spoil and be tasteless. But Jesus tells believers they are the salt of the earth, the ingredient to stop the decay of mankind. Jesus also tells believers they are the light of the world, an illumination of God’s love and truth in a dark, sinful world.
So how can modern believers live up to the responsibility of being a positive influence in today’s society? Scripture gives us the answer: by living lives of purity. What we think, what we say, and how we behave must all be identified with purity. Listen to how Scripture identifies believers and the kind of lives we should be leading:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . . .” (Eph. 5:1-8 ESV).
So don’t be afraid or ashamed of identifying with Christ. After all, we are the salt and light of the world. Let’s show the world our flavor and let’s shine our light in the darkest corners. Only then can others know us as true followers of Christ.
Remember, our identity is in Christ alone. And that’s the best identity of all.
Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.