I recently asked one of our members, Ian Davies, to focus on the question of Identity. In these days of Covid when so many of us have been stripped of our usual titles, roles, or activities, it’s more important than ever to know who we truly are.
Who am I?
It’s a simple yet profound question, whether we’re asking it of ourselves or being asked by someone else. How do we answer? A simple answer might just be to say our name – for instance “I am John Smith” – but does that really reveal our identity in its fullest sense? That’s the real heart of the question isn’t it? A question that we I’m sure we all ask ourselves more than once in life, whether we want to admit or not.
We naturally belong to the human race and most likely we belong to a family. Both of these things are decided for us before we’re born so that we can say “I am a human being and the son/daughter and brother/sister of so and so”. Indeed, of you’ve spent much time in the Bible, you’ll have come across many genealogies (lists of parents, grandparents etc.) that show how important it was for people to know where they’d come from and to which family and nation they belonged (see Genesis chapter 10 and Matthew chapter one for just two examples).
Maybe today we don’t focus as much on family as we do on affiliation. National or local pride is still a big thing for many, so our answer might start with where we come from; “I’m Welsh”. We may support a particular sports team or love a particular type of music or musician and identify ourselves by that; “I’m a ………. fan”. So often what we wear forms a big part of the identity we want the world to see so maybe the image we’ve chosen (hipster, goth, fashion icon etc.) says who we are.
Most often we seem to define ourselves by what we do, whether it be a job or hobby, which means we can say things like “I’m a welder” and/or “I’m a musician”. The bottom line is that we are many things. My brief, personal description on Twitter used to say “Christian, husband, son, father, brother, rugby lover and amateur guitarist/drummer”. This actually left out probably the biggest part of my life at the time which was being a soldier (I didn’t include it for security reasons). Indeed, when I left the Army I really struggled to work out who I was if I wasn’t Captain Davies, the Regimental Administration Officer for 1 Regiment Army Air Corps any more.
In all of these examples, it seems that our identity is always wrapped up in belonging; to whom or what do we belong? So maybe to really be able to answer the question “who am I” we have to work out what (or who) it’s most important for us to belong to. For the Christian, the answer should be simple. We belong to God, in Jesus Christ, if we have believed in Him and received Him as Saviour and Lord (John 1:12).
If we’re honest though, so many other things compete to define our identity. Jesus said that “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV); what we treasure most very often drives the answer to the question “who am I?”. Whilst the answer could include many other layers, for the Christian the most fundamentally important truth is that we are children of God. Knowing this should drive us to keep us constantly asking ourselves what (or rather Who) is most important to us and how it affects what we see to be the core of our identity.
So maybe this is a good question to ask ourselves every now and again. “Who am I?”. When we look at what matters most to us and the thing(s) we most want people to know about us, does God top the list? You may be English, an accountant, a father, a rugby player, drummer and Newcastle United supporter (ok, maybe that’s a step too far; sorry Peter), but can you say with the Apostle Paul, “by the grace of God, I am what I am…”, “…a new creation, the old [me] has gone and the new [me] is here” (1 Corinthians 15:10 & 5:17 NIV)? If we have Jesus as our Lord and Saviour that’s the most important thing that we should be able to say in answer to ourselves or anyone else who asks us who we are.