I heard an interesting observation once about the difference in how men and women answer the request, “Tell me about yourself.” Guys tend to immediately start jabbering about what they do-their talents and accomplishments, their job, how they spend their leisure time, etc. Girls, on the other hand, generally take the approach of focusing on who they are in relation to what kind of family they grew up in, brothers and sisters, how they relate to their friends, whether they are extroverted or introverted. In all reality girls answer that question a lot better.
There are few things more important in life than knowing who you are. It’s the foundation that gives you the tools and rules that guide you through the choices you make every day. In short, your identity gives you the blue print for how you behave and react. Years ago I heard a preacher give a series of sermons called “When The Heat’s On.” I was pretty young, but for some reason it stuck with me. His gist was that it’s when life gets tough that who you are shines through. It’s how you react in those times that really matters. The better you know yourself when the storms hit, the more likely you are to hold to the things you say you believe when things are going smoothly.
Now the good news for those of us who follow Jesus is that we are given some really deep insight into who we are, because He has already told us a lot about it. The first clue the Bible gives us about our identity, as humans are Genesis 1:27, where God decided to make us in His image. That includes everyone… Christians. Atheists. Muslims. Satanists alike. I don’t know about you, but every time I ponder that I feel like I must transform my brain into one of those contortionists who can twist and bend in very unnatural ways to fit into a 2-by-2 Plexiglas box. Only problem is my brain never quite fits into that box. There’s always a leg or a head left sticking out. But since God is good, I know that being made in his image must be something very wonderful.
Because we’re all created, relational beings, our identity doesn’t occur on it’s own, in a vacuum. Even the most severe introvert seeks out their identity from outward sources… and I should know! I believe whole-heartedly that the only way for us to know who we are is to be in relationship with the One who made us. Inversely, without God, one can’t really know who he or she is. So what do we do when we are not in relationship with God? (Yes “we” – even born again believers are guilty of it) We go out and find our identity in other people. For instance, a guy will put all his energy into a relationship with the first girl he can find to define himself, and vice versa. It’s even worse when a girl looks for her identity in a boy, because the consequences of that are just destructive. He will destroy her, whether he means to or not. Only Jesus can tell you who you are. By taking time to get to know him better, we end up discovering our own identity because we are allowing him to shed light on on that through his word and listening for his voice in prayer. Suddenly it’s not just “Who am I?” but “Lord, You know who I am. Please show me.”
It’s out of the love we receive from that relationship with God that we can truly love others. I think a good description of the Church is “People who love God, loving each other.” God has also given us an identity as his followers. I like to think that if most of us were pressed on the question “What is the Church with a capital C?” that a good majority of us would answer something resembling, “The Church is the people who have found their life in Christ,” not, “the place where we go on Sunday.” To describe his Church, Jesus used the most intimate relational language known to man by referring to her as his bride. And yes, the Church is a building of sorts, but only because God calls us his Temple, the very place where He resides (1 Corinthians 3:16). We belong to a family that will last forever, whom not even the Gates of Hell can overcome. Jesus first said those words (loosely paraphrased) to his friend Peter in Matthew 16:18. Imagine Jesus himself standing in front of you in the flesh, telling you what destiny and purpose the rest of your life will entail! Not only that, but he also gave Peter his new name, changed from Simon, in the same breath. Talk about knowing your identity! In a sense, that’s exactly what he’s said to all of us. If I follow Jesus, he calls me his friend (John 15:15). That means I don’t have to stand alone when life gets tough, whether it’s brought on by circumstances outside my control, or by my own disobedience. When I’m in relationship with the Son of God, I’m not facing life alone anymore. And when I reach my wits’ end, where accomplishments and talent don’t mean jack squat, or when I’m – dare I say – persecuted for my love for him, I can know that this life is only temporary, and that I belong to something eternal. That perspective gives me a lot of hope.
One of my heroes, Keith Green once said, “You know, I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things. And it says in the Bible that He made them in six days […] Jesus Christ has been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years. And if the world took six days and that home two thousand years, hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what’s going on up there!”
With that hope in mind, let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m much more than a musician who enjoys photography on his spare time, and occasionally enjoys a good poutine. I’m a child of God, blameless and pure, whom He has brought into relationship with Himself and his family of believers. Way to go girls.
To hear the song, “Cathedral Made Of People”, from Downhere visit this site.
This is part of a devotional series by the guys from Downhere. Each entry is based on one of the songs from their upcoming album, ending is beginning. The album is in stores September 23, 2008, but you can get a free download of the new song “My Last Amen” today.