Don’t You Forget About You
Of all the reminders of the brokenness of our bodies and the fallenness of our world, there are few as heart-breaking as having to watch a loved one lose their cognitive function.
If you’ve ever had to care for someone with dementia, it might not always be painful. There are moments when they are fully coherent, full of memory, and full of life. But in an instant, that could disappear, making them a danger to themselves if left alone and requiring the supervision of others.
On the other side of eternity, dementia is guaranteed to be no more (Revelation 21:4). Until then, dementia will serve as a harsh reminder of where we live and the comprehensive brokenness of the human condition.
Without minimizing the significance of physical dementia and its devastating toll on families, it can also serve as a reminder of a “spiritual dementia” that all Christians struggle with, regardless of age.
Perhaps a better term is “identity amnesia.” In the same way that physical dementia makes someone forget who they are, who others are, and where they are going, identity amnesia causes even the most mature Christian to do the same, but spiritually.
“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:9, emphasis mine).
Identity amnesia doesn’t mean we no longer love and serve the Lord or never display the fruit of the Spirit. Rather, identity amnesia causes us to ebb and flow in and out of an overarching biblical worldview that shapes how we think and act in everyday life.
Perhaps this means we try to find our sense of value from whoever is around us at the moment. Instead of resting in our identity as a blood-bought and adopted child of the Living God, we seek inner security in how fickle, selfish, sinful people interact and respond to us. (That won’t end well!)
Maybe this means we are eternity amnesiacs. Like someone with dementia who starts on a journey and forgets where they are going, we forget that this life is a preparation for our final destination. Rather than living with Forever in view, we accumulate temporary treasures and experiences on earth today, hoping that they will satisfy us. (They won’t!)
Identity amnesia can display various symptoms, but it simply means we are prone to look for our sense of meaning and purpose in all the wrong places.
If left untreated, identity amnesia will cause us to become paranoid and discouraged. Life will be an emotional roller coaster, an exhausting ride of radical ups and downs.
What’s the treatment for identity amnesia? Peter tells us in the same passage: “Make every effort to supplement your faith … Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election … I intend always to remind you of these qualities” (2 Peter 1:5, 10, 12).
If you are going to live the fullest life that God’s grace can enable you to live, you need to constantly tell yourself who you are, whose you are, and where you are going. And you need to invite others to do the same.
Finally, ask the Spirit to remind you of the divine power and identity that, by grace, is yours for the taking: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
The God who assigns us a radical new identity meets us with radical empowering grace to live a radically new and different life!
Paul David Tripp
1. What are some additional harsh reminders of the fallen world where you live and the comprehensive brokenness of the human condition? How have you experienced them personally and watched loved ones suffer?
2. Where are you finding identity in someone, something, or someplace other than the Lord? Is it as a spouse or parent, in your career, your athletics or physical ability, or even your involvement in ministry? Why is it dangerous to seek your meaning and purpose here? How has this already failed to satisfy you?
3. In what ways have you forgotten your eternal destination this week? Be specific. How have you asked temporary treasures and pleasures of this earth to satisfy you? How have they disappointed? What might happen if you keep trying to ask them to fulfill you?
4. What are some other symptoms of identity amnesia that you might be displaying? If you struggle to create an accurate list, would you be bold enough to ask others to help you? Reread 2 Peter 1. Do you have people in your life who have been invited to “always remind you” of the gospel, even when it’s uncomfortable or confrontational?
5. Reread the list of qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Pinpoint one that you have been struggling with recently. How has God’s divine power granted you everything you need to increase in this quality? Be specific.