Choosing a New Identity

for the week of February 12, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

Anthony Taylor apparently thought it wasn't good enough to be Anthony Taylor. People didn't pay him enough attention. He didn't turn heads. He didn't have enough money to live the life he dreamed about. So he took a new identity.

Books have been published over the past few years to tell people how to change identities. How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found and Reborn in the U.S.A. have sold thousands of copies. Criminals have known the secrets published in these books for a long time.

Anybody can get a new address and telephone number. And getting a birth certificate isn't terribly difficult. Then, with a birth certificate, you can get a Social Security card, driver's license, and other documents for a new persona. Voila!

When Anthony Taylor decided to remake himself, he chose to be Tiger Woods. He was charged in a California lawsuit of using the golf star's name and Social Security number to get a driver's license, rent videos, apply for credit, and buy a used Lexus with a down payment of only $100. Between August 1998 and August 1999, he allegedly went on a $17,000 shopping spree with his new name.

Tiger Woods is one of the world's richest men. Though he is only 25, he was estimated to have made $45 million in endorsements in the year 2000 alone. Sporting News named him "the most powerful person in sports" for that year.

What about you? Ever wish you could start over with a new identity? I'm not talking about the superficial things like name, address, and driver's license, mind you, but an authentically new existence. It would let you start your life over.

God the Almighty One wrote the original book on changing people. What he put in that book was not a series of steps for establishing alternative residences, identification papers, and physical appearances. His theme was the positive alteration of nature, personality, and behavior in human beings.

What God proposes is a bona fide metamorphosis of personality — as radical in kind as the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed [literally ‘metamorphosed'] into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Salvation is new birth, new life, new purpose, and new hope. It is too wonderful an offer for a sinner like me to refuse. How about you?

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