Who are you?

Sometimes there are little things that can make a big difference. Sometimes, we need to delve into bigger questions.

Throughout history, people have sought to answer several big questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where did I come from?
  • Where am I going?
  • Why am I here?

Philosophers in many different countries and religions have pondered these questions and have come up with just as many opinions on what the answers are.

I’m not going to be so bold as to say that I have all the answers or have figured it all out, but I do believe that God has given us answers in the Bible. I do look at or listen to what others have to say, but I try to look in the Bible for the final say. If you’ve listened to this podcast for a while, it’s no secret that I’m a Christian and that God and the Bible play a big part in my life.

As a side note, an important part of reading and studying the Bible is to keep things in the context in which they are written and also not to read into the Bible any preconceived ideas.

Knowing where we come from and where we are going are both important. The Bible says that we will all go somewhere when we die, and we have to settle that while we are here. It clearly teaches that the way to Heaven is only through Jesus. This is important to know, but we aren’t focusing on that in this episode.

Knowing why you are here is also important. God has us here for a reason. Each of us has a purpose. Ultimately that is to give glory to God, but He also has specific things for us to do as individuals. Again – this is not the topic today.

I want to focus on the question, “Who am I?”

identityTwice a month, my church has a grief recovery group that I help lead. I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a lot since we started last year. There is certainly more to it, but a large part of grief comes when a loved one dies.

If we look back to Creation, death did not exist. Death didn’t happen until Adam sinned. Death is the consequence of sin. Of course, Adam didn’t physically die as soon as he sinned – it took about 900 years. Same thing for us – we don’t always experience the consequences of our actions until much later.

People handle grief in many ways. Grief may bring remorse, regret, and even despair and depression. One leading cause of people reacting in a way that brings them down this road is misplaced or missing identity.

They don’t really know who they are.

Sometimes, when a spouse dies, the remaining person is no longer married. Especially for someone who had been married for 40, 50, or 60 years, their identity had been as either husband or wife. That identity brings with it certain responsibilities and feeling. With that identity stripped away, what is left? It’s a completely different role for them. They look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person looking back at them. They don’t know who they are anymore.

This feeling scares many people and they don’t know how to handle it. This leads them to discouragement and depression. They have the tendency to disconnect from the world around them, which actually worsens their feelings.

A similar thing happens at retirement.

I was listening to a podcast on retirement. While they usually focus on the financial aspect of retirement – saving and investing – they also talk about other aspects of retirement. The two hosts are financial advisors, so they work with a lot of people through this transition in life. They have observed that there are some that don’t live long after retirement. And it’s not due to poor health or old age.

It’s because they worked for 40 -50 years and suddenly stopped. Their identity was wrapped up in what they did for a living. After retiring, they wake up in the morning and are faced with basically nothing to do. They lose their purpose for getting up and doing things. At first, it was great – it felt like an extended vacation. But then it settled in as reality.

The hosts of that podcast encourage people to plan ahead for this by getting involved in different things in the community or in their church. This helps give them a new purpose during the retirement years.

This however, doesn’t resolve the identity issue. They merely switch their identity from full-time worker to part-time worker or volunteer. Who they are runs deeper than that.

Who you are runs deeper than what you do.

Who you are runs deeper than the relationships you have with friends and family.

Who you are runs deeper than your skin color, race, or gender.

So, who are you then?

What is your identity?

Where do you get that identity?

Your identity should come from God.

If you have trusted Him as your personal Savior, He promises never to leave you nor forsake you.

Also, God will never change – He is always the same.

If our identity is in another person, our job, or anything else, your identity will fluctuate. Jobs get eliminated. People move away, die, or make mistakes. When these change, and your identity is tied to them, you begin to lose your identity.

If your identity is in God, your identity will remain stable regardless of the circumstances around you.

Remember when Jesus was walking on the water? His disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when a storm broke out. Jesus walked toward them on the water. When the disciples realized who He was, Peter asked if he could come out to him. Peter walked out on the water with Christ. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Christ, the storm and circumstance around him didn’t affect his ability to stay on top of the water. It wasn’t until he took his eyes off Christ and focused on the storm around him that he began to sink.

If we keep our identity in Christ, the storms and circumstances around us won’t take us down.

As the saying goes, even though this is a simple concept, it’s not necessarily easy implement. We are human and have the tendency to become self-involved and self-focused. We need to intentionally give our lives to God.

In closing, here’s a passage from Romans:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-38