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Who Am I?

Who Am I?

At birth, he was called Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo. Later, as an actor, he became known to us as Alan Alda.

Amos Muzyad Jahoob thought we would remember him better if his name was Danny Thomas.

Marion Robert Morrison thought he would get more respect as John Wayne.

And, I have to agree that Natalie Wood is a lot easier to say than Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko.

Now, besides going by a different name, each of these people have something in common. They’re actors. Actors often go by a name other than the one their parents gave them. They are people who make a living being something they aren’t. As a whole, they are a group of people who are also often confused about who they really are! Have you noticed that?

Now, what about us? When you introduce yourself, what do you tell people? You probably start with your name. Maybe you tell about where you work, or where you used to work. Maybe you talk about where you were born, or raised. Some of you may identify yourself as a parent or grandparent of someone. Sometimes, without a word, you say something about your identity just by what you are wearing. You may have a sports team name on you, or a company logo, or something like that. Maybe you tell people that you are a member of First Christian Church.

No matter how you try to identify yourself, it isn’t the same as who you are. What you do for a living or how you dress isn’t really your identity. It’s something you do. We are “human beings,” not “human doings.” You might try to express that you’re a Razorback fan by wearing the T-shirt, but the shirt doesn’t change who you are any more than wearing a certain hairstyle makes you a Christian.

Unfortunately, many people today are confused about who they are. That includes a lot of Christians. Human life has been devalued. As a result, individuals and our society are being destroyed. When that destruction is complete, we will no longer be free. Our nation will perish. Anarchy and chaos will create the “survival of the fittest”, because we reject God. Do you think that sounds crazy?

Deuteronomy 28:20 The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.

Here is what is crazy. There is a new phrase in the world now: “I identify as…”

Confused people turn to a variety of sources to try to identify themselves. Some believe their identity is all tied up in their sexuality.

For example, I watched Bruce Jenner win the 1976 Olympics Decathlon gold medal. Once considered the world’s greatest athlete, he is now the world’s most famous transgendered person, assuming a new identity as Caitlyn Jenner. At what point did he become confused?

From the blog of Matt Walsh, you can read: “Lila Perry is a teenage boy at Hillsboro High School in Missouri. Apparently, he was a gay male until about ninth grade, at which point he decided he was actually a straight female. This is the sort of “revelation” that, in saner times, would land the confused young man in rigorous psychological and spiritual counseling. But these are not sane times, so instead it landed him in the girls’ locker room.”

The University of California system now has 6 choices for students to select their “gender identity” on admissions applications: “How do you describe yourself? (Mark one answer).” Nevertheless, the application also asks “what sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate?” and the two choices are: male or female.

Who assigns your sex? I thought it was discovered at birth! (or in the ultrasound now)

At Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson there’s actually a line of work called “chicken sexing.” That’s where 1-day old chicks are sorted by gender. A person called a “chicken sexer” actually takes each chick, checks its anatomy, and then puts it in the appropriate group. Hens here. Roosters there. It’s a good thing for chicken sexers that gender confusion hasn’t hit the chicken farm!

The identity crisis isn’t just a gender issue anymore. Caucasians are declaring their identity as a Black person or a Native American, when it is physically evident they are not. Black people are accused of trying to be “white” if they have a conservative philosophy. A whole generation people are wondering, “Who am I?” in a way that we never did before. And the way they’re being encouraged to answer that question is leaving them more confused than ever.

The purpose of this long introduction isn’t to stir up your anger at those people who are so lost and confused. If you want to be angry at someone, be angry at the devil who has spread so many lies that people are lost and confused. Be angry at the one who comes to steal and to kill and destroy. Be angry at the confusion and hurt and destruction he inflicts onto hurting people.

The purpose for mentioning these current events is to make it clear that how you answer the silent question “Who am I?” will affect your life more than you realize. It will also affect your eternal destiny.

Therefore, believers need to be truthful and loving as we think and speak about these things. While the world approves of all kinds of evil living, what God has said about it never has changed and never will. We must not bend the truth to appease the world. If we don’t speak the truth in love, the lost and confused have no hope. However, we can anticipate that holding to the truth will cost us as a church family and personally. That’s not a reason to compromise the truth, but it’s something to keep in mind and be prepared for persecution. The Scriptures warn us not to be surprised when being a Christian is costly.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Secondly, we need to consider how we can reach out to people who are caught up in the lies. We need to convey the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people in a manner that says, “We care about you and we want to help you know Jesus and to go to Heaven.” Once they believe in Jesus Christ and accept His Word as truth, He will transform their minds and heal their souls.

Jude 1:22-23 And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

This verse tells us to rescue to perishing, but don’t approve of their sin and beware of sin’s enticement. If we are not careful, we will compromise the truth and be unfaithful to Christ.

Thirdly, God’s word has much to say about who we are! It starts in Genesis 1:1, where God is the Creator. That means we are created beings, not random mistakes, not accidents. We’re designed with purpose and value in God’s eyes.

From there, it says that God made us in His image. Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That means we’re distinct from the rest of creation. We have a spirit with an innate sense of morals, and we have a soul that lives eternally. That makes us more important than the chicken.

Notice it says that God created us male and female. There are 2 distinct genders—not three, not six—only two, created to complement and complete one another. And you don’t choose your gender. You don’t wait until you reach a certain age and figure it out. It’s not forced upon you by an unjust society. And no, it’s not “assigned” to you. The doctor looks at your anatomy and says, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” because that’s what you are. It doesn’t matter if you like to arrange flowers or repair motors. God gives you your gender, just like He gave you life and His image. It’s a permanent genetic condition, regardless of what is done to a person emotionally or physically.

God looked at all His creation, with the man and woman in it, and He said it was very good. God doesn’t make junk. That includes you, whoever you are. You are a unique soul, made by God to last forever. You were created for fellowship with Him. That’s great news for people who are struggling with a bad self-image!

That’s just the first two chapters of the Bible. The 3rd chapter tells us even more about who we are and how we got the way we are. Adam and Eve sinned, and we inherited a sinful nature from them. It is part of our identity. We are a part of a fallen race, the human race. (By the way, that is the only race God created. We are all of the same race regardless of our physical features.) Therefore, every one of us faces death because we inherited a sin nature from Adam.

Evolutionary science has taken 2 centuries trying to determine who we are, only to reach a conclusion that’s confusing! God’s word spells out in just the first 3 chapters who we are spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, genetically, and socially!

But wait! It gets even better! The rest of the Bible spells out who we can become! It tells us death is not the end of who we are. It tells us of how God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for the sin of the world so we can live forever and have a restored relationship with Him!

Colossians 1:21-22 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

Yes, at one time we were alienated from God, just like unbelievers today. We were God’s enemies, but we have been reconciled. We are forgiven. We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

For every person who believes and is born again of the Holy Spirit, there’s a new identity! God begins the process of conforming us into the image of Jesus Christ, making us a person with His character. It doesn’t matter what we have been. What matters is that we belong to Jesus and God calls us His! When you become "His" you become a new creation and you are never the same again.

Listen to this summary of who we are in Christ:

If you are in Christ and He is in you, you are God’s child, with Jesus as your Brother, an inheritor of God’s riches. You are a child of light, clothed with Christ, purchased with His blood, sealed with the Holy Spirit, a vessel of His gifts, a part of the body of Christ, a new creation, a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are God’s worker, God’s field, God’s building, a living stone, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. You are Christ’s Bride, with your name written in the Lamb’s book of Life, living as an alien here with Heaven as your real home! Therefore, stop degrading yourself! Stop listening to what others say about you!

After all, who else should have the privilege, the permission, the power, and the right to tell me who I am, other than God Himself? It is God who created me. It is God who shapes me. God is the author of my identity. He alone gets to tell me who I am. It is God who has purchased me and to whom I have given my life. Therefore, God gets to tell me who I am! Regardless of what anyone else says about me (family, friends, foes, or Satan), I have an identity that I can entirely trust and always claim as true because it is an identity that comes from God Himself.

I am what I am, because God made me so by His grace!

Brothers and sisters, the world is confused about who they are, and we have the most incredible, wonderful message they could possibly hear!

Remember in 1st grade, when you knew the answer to the question the teacher asked? Remember raising your hand just as high as you could reach, and waving it around so that the teacher would see you and pick you? Remember going, “Oooh! Ooh! Pick me!” Why did you do that? It was because you knew you had the answer, and you wanted to share it. You wanted the teacher to know you understood, and you wanted the people around you to see that you had the right answer. Somehow it really mattered that the teacher pick you. You acted like the fate of the world rested on your answer!

It’s too bad that we lose that eagerness to speak up. It’s too bad that we become content to just let someone else answer it, or we begin to doubt that we’re right. It’s too bad that we start to worry about what everyone will think if we say it. Somewhere along the way, we stopped realizing that the fate of the world does rest on us sharing the right answers.

All over the place, the question is being silently asked: Who am I? Does my life even matter?

We have the answer to those questions. We can end their identity crisis! We can help people see who they really are, and who they can become in Jesus Christ! We have the right answer. The world does not have it. We need to get excited once again about sharing it.

However, before we can help others, we need to understand who we are in Jesus Christ. It will change the way we live and we will be a testimony of what Christ will do for them.

So, who are you? I’m not referring to your cultural heritage. Who are you spiritually?

Some of us don’t like that question, because we don’t like what we know about ourselves. We mostly see our sin—the filth, the falsehood, the failures, the hatred, the lusts or selfishness—and we are convinced that God sees all that evil stuff and He doesn’t like us either. So we avoid thinking about who we are, hoping that if we ignore it, it will just go away.

Some of us don’t like that question because it brings up more pain from evil things we have experienced. We see all the ways that we have been hurt, damaged, wounded, and we start to feel that emotional pain again. We are convinced that we must not be worthy of love, acceptance, and success. We are afraid that if we pay any attention to the question, the pain will quickly overwhelm us. So again, we try to ignore it and hope it will go away.

Others don’t mind the question so much because they have accepted who they are in Christ. They know there are places of sin, and places of pain, but they have laid them at the foot of the cross, dying to themselves, and are walking by the Holy Spirit. They have a sense of who they are and try to live accordingly by the grace of God.

Whatever your reaction to the question, it is an important one to ask, even if it is uncomfortable. Because how we see our identity has an awful lot to do with how we live our lives. When we understand who we are in the light of the truth of God, it transforms how we see everything – including the stuff we see that we don’t like, the stuff we see that hurts, and even the things we accept. Knowing who we are in Christ is critical for living as children of God.

So after Father’s Day, I will focus on this question of identity for a few weeks. Who am I? Who are we? And what does that mean for how we live? The Scriptures we will meditate on have power to change who we become and our future destiny.

Maybe you already see your need to place your identity in Christ by making Him your Lord and Savior. If so, publicly confess Jesus Christ today as the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross and rose again from the grave. Repent of your sin, and give your life to Jesus by dying to yourself in baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will give you a new identity as God’s child. Then you will have power and grace to live as one.