I struggled to find my identity in Christ, trying to find my identity in materialistic things of the world. I was so consumed with gaining the “perfect” group of friends that I used alcohol to cope and did things that I’m far from proud of. This ultimately led to comparing my looks and personality to others, detrimental anxiety, and complete emptiness. A few months into this behavior, I sat down with my dad. He asked how I could live this type of life, basing my life and actions off cultural trends, and still call myself a Christian. I realized that the only true fulfillment I could experience was through Jesus.
Gen Z and Identity in Christ
My generation, Gen Z, is more prone to fall into patterns of mental health issues and comparison than any other generation today. McKinsey Health Institute says that previous generations of young people never had to deal with the constant exposure to trends and high standards that Gen Z deals with today. Their research shows that a higher number of Gen Z respondents suffer from negative mental, social, and spiritual health. Gen Z uses social media more frequently than other generations. To confirm this study, Gen Z also says that social media negatively affects their mental health more than other generations. In addition, older generations report fewer negative effects of social media when compared to Gen Z.
Effects of Social Media on Identity in Christ
Social media plays a big role in how Gen Z acts, thinks, and behaves. As for me, I used to base my interests off what was trending on TikTok. Our culture today can easily become so wrapped up in fitting in with the crowd that we can completely miss out on the importance of the Gospel.
Cold Case Christianity says that it isn’t a coincidence that Gen Z experiences higher levels of comparison, depression, and anxiety because of social media’s prevalence. Ultimately, the “more you know about the trouble in the world, the more you will be troubled by it, and the more you compare yourself with others, the more likely you are to suffer by comparison.”
McKinsey Health Institute says, “social media algorithms attempt to anticipate and shape our interests, introducing us to content, ideas, and temptations unavailable to previous generations.” As Gen Z shapes their opinions around content found on social media, it’s easy to slip into temptation and fall farther away from Christ-centered lives. For example, the more time that I spent scrolling online, the less motivation I had to go to church or even call myself a believer. I wanted so desperately to be what society defined as “cool” that I was not giving any attention to what I desperately needed: a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Hope in Christ
Comparison has significantly increased through the prevalence of social media influencers and trends, affecting the mental health of those in Gen Z. But through Christ, hope is activated and hearts are fulfilled. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Once we truly realize that we are made in Christ’s image, we gain joy and peace that the world can’t give us. It’s from the power of the Holy Spirit alone. We are created for Christ, which is why every time we try to seek our fulfillment in material things, we are left empty. However, with the hope of Christ, we are filled with the abundant joy of His presence.
Identity in Christ Scripture
Christ Jesus wants to free us from any bondage we may experience from placing our worth in anything other than Him. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the good news of the Gospel, and it lifts a lot of weight off our shoulders that the world tells us we should carry. Low self-esteem, depression, and neuroticism is seen when we compare ourselves to other people and envy something we seem to not have.
Contrarily, the Bible says that we are made uniquely by God, each possessing different qualities, traits, and things that make each one of us beautiful in His eyes. We also know that everything is in God’s control, and this lifts off a lot of pressure as well. It’s easier said than done to reorient our minds to think this way, but it truly brings the peace that our minds are yearning for.
Security in Identity in Christ
God has created us in His image and desires to have a relationship with us. This is the greatest news. Genesis 1:27 says that “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Whenever it becomes easy to fall into comparison (i.e. comparing our talents to those of someone else, thinking someone is better looking than us, comparing body image), I remind myself that God has given each of us unique gifts and features that He intricately designed within our mothers’ wombs. Why should I even think to compare myself to someone else when I’m already called beautiful by the Creator of heaven and earth?
If life seems hopeless right now, know that there is living hope in Christ that has the power to move and fulfill in your life! Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Seeking things that are above means to seek the things of Christ. Got Questions says that these include, but are not limited to, “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, peace, singing, worship, and gratitude.”
In summary, if we want to seek things that are above, we need to fight off cultural trends and align our actions with what is found in Scripture. Doing so will reap everlasting joy from Jesus, thus framing our identity in Christ.
There are key verses to keep in mind when placing hope and trust in the love of the Lord:
- “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
- “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11
- ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘ Jeremiah 29:11
- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
- “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Benefits of Identity in Christ
By placing our identity in Christ, we receive the peace, joy, and rich reward of God’s loving grace. And although this counteracts with what most of Generation Z is being led toward today, it is the answer for fulfillment in this life and the next. This isn’t the easy way out, however. A relationship with Christ means that we get to choose peace in the middle of the darkest storm. We still face temptation and desires to place our worth and identity in other things. But once we fill our minds entirely with the truth of who Christ says we are by studying Scripture and spending time in prayer, we experience His presence, which is the best gift we could ever receive.
Be encouraged today that God is pursuing you, and you are not alone in this battle of trying to find where your identity lies. Placing our identity in Christ is the best decision we could make not only for the betterment of our lives, but for the health of our minds. As John 3:16 and 1 Peter 2:9 say, you are loved, cherished, and chosen by Christ. That is all we could ever want or need. And as I have placed my priorities in Scripture rather than anything the world could offer, I have found my identity in Christ.
Published on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 @ 4:13 PM EDT