How do you answer what is considered one of the biggest questions in life: “Who am I?” The source of our identity impacts the quality of our life and how we handle the ups and downs that life throws at us. If we find our identity in the wrong place, life can prove to be an emotional roller coaster. If we find our identity in the right place, we will find the strength to handle all of life’s challenges and trials. I invite you to read more.
At some point, each of us has most likely been asked to introduce ourselves. When asked to introduce yourself, what do you say? Perhaps you introduce yourself by stating what it is you do for a living. Have you ever adjusted your introduction based on how you think others might react? Do you speak of your current or past accomplishments when introducing yourself? Now allow me to ask a harder question. Does your personal introduction include any mention of God? Now think about this, if God were introducing you, what do you think He would say?
“When Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am,” Peter’s answer was direct and to the point. He said:” You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
My message today was inspired by a talk once given by the Christian author and speaker Fr. Henri Nouwen. According to him, most people find the answer to the “Who am I” question in one of three places. Their identity gets wrapped up in:
- What they do
- What other people say about them
- What they have accumulated
If we find our “Who am I” in one of these three areas we will always eventually get let down. Let’s look to Jesus to see where He found His true identity. But first, let’s reflect on the last thing that Jesus heard before the Spirit led Him into the desert. Immediately before going into the desert Jesus heard a voice from the heavens saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) It was from this identity that He found His strength. Let’s take a look.
Satan knew exactly how to best temp Jesus in His humanity. He used the three common sources that humans frequently turn to.
To begin with, Satan tempted Jesus to find His identity with the “What do you do identity” “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” But Jesus did not fall into the trap, he stated: “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”
Satan moved on next to “What do others say? “Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Just imagine what the people would be saying if Jesus would have done this.
After two failed attempts Satan still had the “What do I have” temptation up his sleeve. “Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!””
You see, when we find our “I am” in anything other than the correct place we will eventually find disappointment and heartache.
When you discover your “I am” in what you do, the moment that you can’t do what you do anymore, your identity will be shattered. If you discover your “I am” based on what others say about you, a graph of your identity will likely resemble the ups and downs of a historical stock market chart. Finally if you find your “I am” in what you have in life, your identity can be ripped away when the things that you have are suddenly lost, destroyed or taken away.
If you desire a rock solid, stable and enduring strength of identity it must be found in the same place Jesus found His strength, the voice of the Father. This is what the Father is saying to each of us:
“You are my beloved Son/daughter with whom I am well pleased.”
My friends, we need to start seeing ourselves as God sees us. We are each His beloved child. To help us internalize this, let me wrap up today’s message with these Biblical statements. Perhaps we should all add these verses to our Morning Prayer routine:
- I have loved you with an everlasting love! Jeremiah 31:3
- I have written you on the palm of my hand for all eternity! Isaiah 49:16
- I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb! Psalms 139:15
- I have called you by name: you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
Going forth with this knowledge, we are all better equipped now to answer the question “Who am I” with confidence. We can all state:
I am the beloved son/daughter of God!
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