I grew up in small town Iowa and lived in the same house until I went to college. One of the things that fascinated me as a freshman was that no one knew me. Since I came from a place where everyone knew who I was, and I never knew anything different from this, coming to a new place where everyone was a stranger was very weird. One of the things I did, out of my natural ornery self, was create new identities with the various groups of people around me. So when I introduced myself as Numbala Goldstien, African-Jew, no one questioned who I was.
All weirdness aside, one of the things that incoming students to college experience is being in a completely new place with lots of people. Who they were before, from whatever place, is now in the past. Some students don't handle this well. For example, if someone was identified as popular in high school, and now are in a much bigger pond where their popularity no longer defines them, it can throw a person into identity shock.
Our culture sees our identity as an amalgam of all our past deeds and experiences, making us who we are. The Bible, however, takes a different approach to identity; it is not found in my past but in Jesus Christ's past. Our truest self is defined not by what I did in high school or in my hometown, but by what Christ experienced and accomplished for us on the cross. Just as a student lets go of the old life, and reaches out to a new life in college, so we must all let go of old ways of living in sin and brokenness, and embrace being a new creature in Christ based on what he did for me. This is, in fact, what baptism is: that one engages in a ritual in which I am now publicly identified as belonging to Jesus.
We are not defined by our skills, abilities, and past actions. My identity, as a Christian, is in relation to Jesus. As a new academic year starts, it is vital that we all see who we are through the lenses of Scripture: a person known and loved by God through Jesus. With this identity, there is never a reason to create a new one.