Identity theft is a common problem within our society. When someone experiences the theft of their identity, they generally suffer loss.
Personal identity is a multi-faceted thing. We inherit some identifiers through our birth: nationality, race, name, etc. Other elements of our identity result from what we have done or accomplished: father, wife, athlete, entrepreneur.
In the case of identity theft, the stolen item is an identifier assigned by an institution, either the bank or the government. It is not an identifier we were born with, but rather one we take on by initiating a process.
In a religious context, mankind has always sought to define and understand his identity in the eyes of God. The church, as the primary source of religious instruction, has painted a confused picture of man’s spiritual identity. On the one hand, man is said to be created in the image of God, being offspring of God. On the other, man is supposedly depraved and therefore rejected by God unless he, through the auspices of the church, initiates some sort of reconciliation process. This church sponsored identity, that of lost sinner, is the one which generally prevails. Man’s identity thus becomes a source of shame, anxiety, and frustration.
Could it be that we have allowed the spiritual identity we were born with to be stolen from our hearts by the process of indoctrination? Why should I accept an identity which demeans my basic worth, especially when that acceptance also demeans the very God who created me?
Man’s identity in his own eyes greatly influences the course of personal history individually and human history collectively. We all tend to act in accordance with our perception of self. That perception can elevate or depress our life experience, so we should be at least as concerned about the theft of our spiritual identity as we are about our financial one.