Identity theft is a modern crime that can ruin not only a person’s bank account but their life! Simon Bunce of Hampshire, England not only had his credit-card number stolen on-line but was arrested and falsely accused of being a pedophile when his card number was used to buy child pornography. Fortunately, the story has a somewhat happy ending, as Bunce was eventually cleared by the police.
Still, during the course of a year he lost his job and reputation before having it restored. Can you imagine?
There are other more nefarious stories of identity theft taking place in western society with far more disturbing results. Children of God, made in the image of God, bought by the blood of God, are being told they are just a collection of cells, produced by random mutation, and existing only to perpetuate the species. Along with convincing people of their meaninglessness, as Carl Sagan would have us believe, these same human beings are encouraged to trust their instincts, no matter how illogical, follow their heart, and live for today for tomorrow they die.
Well, do not be too shocked. This era is not the first to experience a war between identities. Adam and Eve fell for it too. They exchanged their identity as unique creatures made in their creator’s image and loved by Him. They were convinced to be unhappy with themselves and believed the illusion they would be happy stealing God’s identity. Instead, after they stole from the one who loved them, they realized a new identity alright: Thieves.
Sure, God promised He would rescue them one day. Sure, God clothed them, but their identity was corrupted. They thought of themselves differently. They no longer could blindly trust the other. They no longer could really trust themselves. Forever, in the back of their heads, they carried the guilt and it marked them. They carried a desire which made them more like the animals they cared for. They felt ugly.
Sin does that. It corrupts our identity. When we do something wrong, even if it does not hurt anyone else, it sticks to us. It reduces us. When things are done to us, even though we know we were innocent, we believe it is a part of us. We believe those rotten words told to us by an abusive father. We believe we were/are that dirty person who was assaulted in college. We are corrupted and corrupters. Our identity is robbed, and we rob others.
Yet, God did not let us go, though we gladly desire Him to! Talk about an identity stealer. Jesus took on humanity’s identity in the manger. He stole our flesh, and, like Simon Bruce, He did things to our credit. But unlike Simon Bruce, He did good! He loved His father. He loved His neighbor. He perfected the broken identity of Adam. He fixed it. Then, He stole our identity as sinners! As Paul says, He became sin who knew no sin so we might become His righteousness. As Adam and Eve, as you and me, Jesus identified as sinful humankind and received our reward. And in baptism He gives you His identity, His name.
Instead of being punished, you are rewarded. Instead of inheriting death, you are given eternal life. Instead of being left to regain your identity and work yourself back into the family, you are restored as a daughter of God, given the best robe, and thrown a party!
Do not let the Devil tell you otherwise! You are not an animal. You are not a product of random chance. You are not an unloved unforgivable sinner. You are not a dying man. You are made in the image of God and, more importantly, you are a living child of God who will rise again!