She’s stubborn in a good way. My friend dissects beliefs with debate and introspection before adopting them, and when it comes to the values that make up her identity, she sticks to her guns and puts up a good fight. Lately, her analytical soul-searching has made her question how much, exactly, God wants changed. “To what extent am I steeped in darkness? At what point will my religion overtake my humanity? In short, how much of myself is God asking me to give up?”
Simple answer, my friend, is 0%. Sure, there are plenty of verses about self-denial and transformation, but Christian humility isn’t renouncing identity; it’s relocating it (100% of it) into Christ.
I think the fear is in thinking that God doesn’t want to see your personality. “God wants cookie-cutter Christians.” You silly, silly goose. He’s the One who invented your personality, and He adores it. In fact, He’s so obsessed with the “you” that He made, He gave His self up just to keep it from corruption. Trace back to Genesis 2, your origin story. Initially, you were created in God’s image, so becoming more Christlike won’t be losing yourself; it’ll be becoming the person you were truly meant to be. Since God is your Creator, He knows your inner mechanics better than anyone, even you. He designed you with great intent, and planted you here and now according to that purpose. Aligning your priorities to match His isn’t quitting on them, but rather guaranteeing their success.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This word “workmanship” is the Greek word “poiema,” which is from where we get our English word “poem.” You are His work of art, the kind of masterpiece to which a sculptor devotes his life. Ever since Genesis 2:7, He’s been forming you. You’re clay, and He’s the potter that puts His treasure in earthen vessels.
This means that getting familiarized with His Word and getting to know who He is means understanding yourself. As you obey Him, you’ll put to use the gifts He’s crafted into you. When you draw close and experience His incredible goodness, you’ll recognize the aspects of yourself that aren’t in tune with that beauty, and you’ll want to give them up. The deeper you relate to the humility that prompted His sacrifice, the more you’ll be willing to pick up your own cross and deny yourself, even if that means denying what you think is your own identity. After all, that’s what selflessness is.
As a masterpiece-in-progress, it’ll sometimes hurt to have rough edges of yourself sanded away, or pieces of stone chipped off your heart. Your flesh, this world, and the enemy will harden you, so you'll feel like finding loopholes in His mold. You’ll fight against His attempts to form you into His own image. You’ll resist His sweet artistry. Sometimes, you’ll be so hardened and brittle, you’ll break.
Keep submitting to His handiwork, though. Trust the Author of your faith to write your character. Don’t be afraid to put off the old man; you’ll find the new one’s better. Lower yourself to such a place that He is the only thing left in you to be seen, for that is when you’ll find yourself in a state of utmost completion.