Sermon quotes on identity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wer bin ich? Der oder jener? Bin ich denn heute dieser und morgen ein andrer? 

Who am I? This one or that one? Am I then this one today and tomorrow another?

“Wer bin ich?” 

Timothy Keller 

The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus.

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God, Penguin Publishing Group.

C. S. Lewis

Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose.

The Four Loves

David Lomas 

It’s been said that our identity is that which is identical about us in every situation. Identity. Identical. Yet that doesn’t help much because we are composite people, bundles of competing desires and identities. We want to be educated thinkers and we want to watch reality television. We want to be generous and we want our own way every time. We want to be in shape and we want to eat bacon! But if the basic conflicts in our natures are obvious, then so is our sense, our intuition, that beneath all that oscillation is a stable core of identity. Somewhere inside us is who we really are.

The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters, David C. Cook.

Stendhal (Henri Beyle)

Why am I me? 

Le Rouge et le Noir

Lysa TerKeurst

The exhausting manipulation and control it takes to protect an identity based on circumstances will crush our hearts and hide the best of who we are behind a wall of insecurity.

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, Thomas Nelson.

Kurt Vonnegut

I am a human being, not a human doing.

Alister McGrath

Protestantism developed its sense of identity primarily in response to external threats and criticisms rather than as a result of shared beliefs. In one sense, the idea of “Protestantism” can be seen as the creation of its opponents rather than of its supporters.

Thomas Merton

It is a spiritual disaster for a man to rest content with his exterior identity, with his passport picture of himself. Is his life merely in his fingerprints?

The New Man, Mentor-Omega Books

Erik Erikson

I must register a certain impatience with the faddish equation, never suggested by me, of the term identity with the question, “Who am I?” This question nobody would ask himself except in a more or less transient morbid state, in a creative self-confrontation, or in an adolescent state sometimes combining both; wherefore on occasion I find myself asking a student who claims that he is in an “identity crisis” whether he is complaining or boasting. The pertinent question, if it can be put into the first person at all, would be, “What do I want to make of myself, and what do I have to work with?”

Doc Childre

Our true identity is to love without fear and insecurity. Our higher potential finds us when we set our course in that direction. The power of love and compassion transforms insecurity.


Eugene Peterson

My identity does not begin when I begin to understand myself. There is something previous to what I think about myself, and it is what God thinks of me.

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

E.E. Cummings

To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

E.E. Cummings: A Miscellany Revised, Public Library.

James F. Masterson, M.D.,

The false self plays its deceptive role, ostensibly protecting us but doing so in a way that is programmed to keep us fearful—of being abandoned, losing support, not being able to cope on our own, not being able to be alone.

The Search for the Real Self (Free Press, 1988), 67.

Søren Kierkegaard

Who am I? How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this.

Repetition, in The Essential Kierkegaard, ed. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 112.

David Benner

We do not find our true self by seeking it. Rather, we find it by seeking God.

The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), p. 91.

John Newton

I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, “By the grace of God I am what I am.

Rosaria Butterfield

I look at a person as an image bearer of a holy God and I am not in any way spooked by whatever worldly identity that happens to be attached to that image bearer.

A.W. Tozer

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…. Where we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the questions… we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.

The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 1

Joe Fox (Tom Hanks)

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat. So people who don’t know what they’re doing, or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self.”

You’ve Got Mail

Anne Colby and William Damon

When an issue is less central to one’s identity it’s possible to feel, for example, “I really should do more to help those in need, but it’s just too hard’ or ‘I just can’t find the time.’ But when the issue lies at the very heart of who one is, it becomes unthinkable to turn away.

The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice, Oxford University Press, 2015.

John Chryssavgis

Unfortunately, the reality is that we tolerate being less than we are called to be. Pride is not the ultimate sin; forgetfulness of our origin and destiny is, in fact, the ultimate tragedy.

Light Through the Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition, Orbis Books, 2004, p.65.

Tony Reinke

In the age of the spectacle, image is our identity, and our identity is unavoidably molded by our media.

Taken from Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke, © 2019, p.21. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

A.J. Swoboda

Our modern dogma is that of Batman: “It’s not who you are underneath . It’s what you do that defines you.

Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, Kindle Location 576.

Ruth Haley Barton

Your desire for more of God than you have right now, your longing for love, your need for deeper levels of spiritual transformation than you have experienced so far is the truest thing about you. You might think that your woundedness or your sinfulness is the truest thing about you or that your giftedness or your personality type or your job title or your identity as husband or wife, mother or father, somehow defines you. But in reality, it is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are.

Taken from Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton Copyright (c) 2009 by Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Christopher J. H. Wright

I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.

Broken Bells

The open doors left me wanting more . . .

It’s another way to win a useless fight

You’ve been lying so long don’t know you’re faking.

“Perfect World,” After the Disco, Columbia Records, 2014.

Audre Lorde

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

John Stott

It is my conviction that our heavenly Father says the same to us every day: ‘My dear child, you must always remember who you are.

 Arthur W. Pink

The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.

The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1955), p.200.

Thales of Miletus

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.

Quoted in Henry Southgate, Many Thoughts of Many Minds: A Treasury of Reference (London: Griffin, Bohn, and Company, 1862), 338.

John D. Zizioulas

The human being is defined through otherness. It is a being whose identity emerges only in relation to other beings, God, the animals and the rest of creation.

Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church (London: T & T Clark, 2006), 39.

Thomas Merton

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.… To work out our identity in God.

New Seeds of Contemplation (New Directions, 2007).

Thomas Merton

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self … We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.

New Seeds of Contemplation (New Directions, 2007).

Jonathan Franzen

This wasn’t the person he’d thought he was, or would have chosen to be if he’d been free to choose, but there was something comforting and liberating about being an actual definite someone, rather than a collection of contradictory potential someones.

Freedom (Picador, 2014)

St. Catherine of Siena

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

Brennan Manning

Define yourself radically as beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.

Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging (NavPress, 2015).

Bruce Waltke

God created [mankind] and therefore only God can reveal to us our identity and function. Without this biblical revelation, we are lost in a maze of confusion.

An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Zondervan Academic, 2011)

Dave Lomas

But here’s the truth: what we do is not the truest thing about us. Building our identity on the foundation of what we do creates an identity that can crack or break or tumble down at any moment.

The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters (David C Cook, 2014).

Dave Lomas

If identity is fluid, then to remain still is to die—or worse, to become irrelevant—and so we never cease our frantic movement in the direction we hope, and pray, is forward.

The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters (David C Cook, 2014).

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