The question of identity reaches into every aspect of our lives. It shapes how we think of ourselves and how we relate to others. It underlies the course of our career, even our course in life. It plays itself out, often unnoticed, in the condition of our health—either good health or bad.
For many of us, deciding who we are starts with the body and then expands to include what we call our personality—character traits, disposition, fears we hang on to, impulses we go along with, and so on.
What all of this material self-identification is missing, however, is the right starting point, which always must be God, our creator, our Father-Mother—the source of our true and only individuality. The Apostle John saw this true starting point. He wrote: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1).
This is where we begin in knowing who we are—God’s love for us, conceiving and cherishing us as His own manifestation of Himself. Our origin was never a moment in time but is the eternal fact of our oneness with divine Love.
Beginning from this standpoint, we see that we could not be more loved than we are right now. We could not be more perfect than the divine Mind has already conceived us to be. There can be no defect in the image of perfection, no disease in the expression of Spirit. There can’t be failure or debilitating character traits in the perfection that divine wisdom lovingly unfolds.
Emphasizing the point that we are already the offspring of God, John continues further on: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (verse 2).
This is where we begin in knowing who we are—God’s love for us, conceiving and cherishing us as His own manifestation of Himself.
This passage reveals, in depth, the fallacy of trying to understand who and what we are by starting with the body and material personality, since matter does not express Spirit in any way. John’s passage indicates that as God is understood and perceived spiritually, we shall perceive ourselves to be God’s own image, and we shall have living proof—ongoing demonstration—of our real identity in our daily life. And this will happen because we perceive the perfect, divine nature of God Himself.
So, whatever there is about us that isn’t good or right, finding freedom from it starts with understanding God, and from that standpoint we begin to discern our real individuality. In doing this, we increasingly stop allowing the material senses to tell us who we are or what we are like. Instead of agreeing with sensations of disease or with materialistic impulses of temper, disposition, sensualism, dishonesty, selfishness, psychological makeup, and so on, we rebel against them. In the depths of prayer we claim for ourselves, as God’s expression, the dominion and peace of divine Mind, the purity, freedom, and wholeness of Soul, the unselfishness of Love—and the eternal health, or harmony, of Spirit.
The practical effects of knowing our real identity can’t be held back. Joy and freedom spring up spontaneously as oppressing or depressing character traits fall away, having never truly been part of us. Our joy becomes steadier, more buoyant, more humble. The body becomes sounder and more harmonious under divine Mind’s government. Our career and other events unfold naturally under the guiding hand of infinite Love.
Perhaps most important, we discover the peace of knowing who we are, the settled freedom of feeling our oneness with our Father. Instead of being a self-generated effort to be successful or happy, our life becomes the ongoing unfoldment of what divine Mind is continuously, lovingly, outlining in us.
Christ Jesus, who brought about unsurpassed healings and character transformations, clearly saw beyond the material appearance and perceived man’s spiritual identity. How else could he say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? This perfection is what the Christ today reveals to us about ourselves and brings to light tangibly, as we pray deeply and strive earnestly to understand and assimilate our spiritual, God-given goodness.
This is an ongoing task, learning to set aside what is false and accept the true. At times it calls for repentance. It often calls for persistence. So we need to be patient with ourselves.
Indicating the work and joys that await all of us, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, “Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 185).
To understand our real identity—even in a degree—is to experience increasing health, dominion, and freedom, as well as the joy of fulfillment that is never denied, because it is God’s perpetual unfoldment of who we are.
David C. Kennedy
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