Who Am I?
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When someone asks who you are they are usually just asking for your name. When we ask this question about ourselves however, it carries a much deeper meaning. The question of human identity has been the quest of philosophers, the muse of artists, and the battle ground for advertisers as far back as we have records. The typical response to this question is to label ourselves by some type of function that we preform. One might say “I’m a business man” or “I’m an athlete” or even “I’m a student.” These functions may not be true of us in the very near future though. You could get laid off, cut from the team, or graduate. It’s not like we cease to exist as people when we stop engaging in a specific function.
We are Tied to Relationships
The next common answer we tend to offer to define our identity is through some type of relationship. “I’m a parent.” “I’m a husband.” “I’m a friend.” Although these relationships are deep and meaningful they fall short of defining who we are because they cannot account for the time before they began, and it’s not as if we came into existence the moment these relationships started. No there is something deeper that defines who each person is in this life. There has to be one source from which all other things flow. I’d like to suggest to you that we find this answer in the Gospel of John.
Finding Our True Identity
The Gospel of John shows us a great deal about identity, but the identity he focuses on is that of Jesus. John tells us something very specific as he opens his book, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5) He reveals to us the divinity and centrality of Jesus in creation, in history and in our existence. The evidence he shows us is plentiful, and ranges from miraculous signs (John 2), to witness testimony (John 1, 3, 20), to outright declaration. (John 8:12, 8:58) John very clearly wants us to know Jesus’ identity as the divine center of all things!
Yet, in a more subtle way John also tells us where our identity is found. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) The Gospel of John is filled with interactions that show how a person’s belief in Jesus defines their identity. There is Nicodemus in chapter 3, the woman at the well in chapter 4, and the paralytic in chapter 5 just to name a few. The most telling reference to human identity though is John’s reference to himself. John refers to himself as “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23, 19:26) This is no mere statement of special relationship or sentiment; John is making a statement on who he now is because of Jesus. All things were made by, and for, Jesus and that includes us. John defines himself in relation to Jesus because he knows that “In him is Life.”
So who am I? Who are you? We are being that are created by Jesus, for Jesus. The great news is that because of Jesus we can now be reconnected to the source of that identity, and by reading his words in Scripture, listening to the Holy Spirit guide us, and being part of the his church we can finally answer the question of who we really are. Now our functional answers can make sense. We can be businessmen, athletes, and students with the internal relationship to Jesus driving those things. Our relational answers can make sense. We can be husbands, wives, parents, and friends as extensions of our relationship to Jesus. Because Jesus offers us reconciliation, the believer can answer the question of human identity with confidence. I am one whom Jesus loves.