Identity: Who Am I?
Question: When you meet someone new for the first time, how do you introduce yourself?
We are all on a journey of discovering who we are, and where we belong. Where do I fit into this big wide, confusing world?
Who are my people, where do I fit, what do I have to contribute to the world around me?
All of us, no matter what we believe or where we are in life ask these questions constantly. Maybe not outright, but we do so as we choose our courses and our degree, as we choose who to date and what crews to spend time with. As we pursue past times, and book genres. As we binge TV shows that we find speak to us, and follow blogs or articles that paint a picture that resonates with us.
And so, if all of life seemingly contributes to our identity.
The big question for tonight and for all of us is: Who am I? How do I define or measure my identity? How do we ever come to actually know who we are?
What are the things that we use to measure our identity?
Why is This Such A Difficult Question to Answer?
Because our world doesn’t answer it for us, other than saying that we have to make our own meaning. We have to be our own unique, meaningful person. But the answers we receive are all fleeting aren’t they?
Example: Have you ever been in a new relationship with a guy or girl and you felt like you were in this safe, life changing place. Only to eventually be hurt by that person, shattering the trust and identity that you found in being their loved one?
Have you ever got a new job, or started a program at Uni, thinking that these classes or this job would give you meaning and fulfillment in ways that High School or your previous jobs did not? Only to find out that this fulfillment came for the first few weeks, but then it became just another class or another part time job?
Have you ever purchased that new piece of clothing, or got that new haircut, or even that new thing (a car, newest Iphone) and in your excitement felt like it was a game-changer. But then after a few weeks, the newness and love you felt for that thing waned. Iphones come out every year and we live for that newness, excitement, and meaning. We get a bit of identity confirmation when we are the ones with the newest and best thing.
“You Do You Boo”
Our world tells us to pursue what we want, what we desire. To think however we desire to think. To love whoever and however. You do you boo.
But eventually this pursuit of the self erupts in two main life-long struggles as we try to find our identity in ourselves, or in the world around us.
Isolation - If life is only about me, and about my desires and my fulfillment, we eventually come to see that life is then a lonely pursuit.
When all we want to do is fulfill our own wants and desires, we become selfish, and distance ourselves from meaningful relationships.
Life becomes only about ME and that becomes a lonely existence.
Meaninglessness - The world tells us that life is about money, power, and popularity. But, once we achieve any of these, we realize far too often that these things are empty and do not offer us that fulfillment that we so desperately desire..
If life ends with this existence, we get stuck in an idea that this truly all is meaningless.
Become like everyone else, assimilate, to the world around us. Indistinguishable from everything else.
We withdraw. We may be distinct or have different views on ourselves, and God as a creator of the Universe, but we distance ourselves from the world instead.
God has dealt with isolation through creation of the church, to which a believer in Christ automatically belongs - the ‘family of God’.
God has dealt with meaninglessness by infusing meaning into all of life, throughout time.
Our Struggle with Ourselves
And so, when people say, “I don’t know who I am,” what they actually mean is that they are not satisfied with what they know themselves to be.
It is from this place of dissatisfaction that we then start to panic, thinking:
How can I deliver myself from this difficult life? How can I change myself to be better, to enjoy life more, to be someone who I am proud of?
We turn to societal ideas: wealth, power, popularity. We may be fulfilled for a time, but ultimately we do not have enough money, power corrupts, and popularity proves to be unfulfilling without any sense of true, authentic relationship.
Destined to Fail
Our search for identity is predestined to fail for the simple reason that identity is not something found but something made through choices, hard work and commitments to others.
The way that we live our lives, the people we befriend and love, the things we believe - this makes up who we are.
Our identity is found in a person, in Christ Jesus the Son of God.
Human Heart: The heart is “dull” (Mt. 13:15), “proud” (Lk. 1:51), “hard and impenitent” (Rom. 2:5) and filled with “lusts” (Rom. 1:24). Above all, it is set rebelliously against God (Mt. 15:8).
Our Hearts Lead us Astray
What are some things in your life that you have the desire for?
Made in the Image of God
Genesis 1:27: God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.
What does this even mean? That I look like God?
Why does this matter for my life?
What does forgiveness mean to you?
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,” Ephesians 1:7
While we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.
We are way more likely to do something bad, evil, or selfish -- then good, loving, and selfless. Our hearts are darkened. But through the love, forgiveness, grace, and power of the Son of God we are given a new heart. A heart filled with a love that God provides for us. That does not dwell on our mistakes, our selfishness, or the things we’ve done. But on the fulfilled, forgiven, and beloved child of God.
You are perfect in God’s eyes, no matter what the world around us says.
“In him we have obtained an inheritance,” Ephesians 1:11
We are not only made with a purpose, as children of the God of the Universe, forgiven by the life and death of Jesus Christ God’s Son, but we are blessed with this purpose.
Far Off, Brought Near
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” Ephesians 2:13
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” Ephesians 2:19
We are all far off without a guiding compass in our lives, without meaning grounding us to the world around us, to the people around us, and ultimately to the work of our hands.
When you believe in Jesus, and accept Him as the saviour of your life, you are welcomed into God’s household -- the family of God, the church, the community of brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to become more loving, generous, patient, and kind together.
Out with the Old, In with the New
“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit,” Ephesians 2:22
We were all once distant, stuck in our brokenness, lost, feeling helpless!
But as we come into the family of God, through the forgiveness of God made possible by Jesus, we are given a new heart.
We become new people, with new purposes, and a new identity.
How does this sound? Does this seem like something that you would have a desire for, being made new? Being freed from the old cycle of life?
Life Doesn’t Make Sense Until You are a Part of a Bigger Story
Our identity is so much more than just YOU alone.
You, as an individual created by God in His image, are a part of a bigger story and a bigger picture.
It began with creation, and now, through Jesus we continue to work out that story. That is of loving and reclaiming this world with the truth and love of Jesus.
This happens in all of our life and work. It inspires our identity in the classroom, our relationships, over a cup of coffee with a friend, our workplaces.
Everything becomes a part of this bigger story and bigger picture about the loving and redeeming power and work of Jesus in the world.
As you accept Jesus as your Lord, are given a new heart and new identity, you have the courage and love to give up our selfish pursuits and participate in a world that God is making new and good once again.
Even though we live in a broken and darkened world, marked by broken human hearts, Jesus came to save us and to change that.
We await the day, and work toward it, when Jesus will come again and make all things news.
Identity Not in ME, but in CHRIST
But Christianity also speaks of a developing sense of identity—as those who have been saved by Christ enter increasingly into an experiential knowledge of Jesus and his character through the work of the Spirit of God in their hearts.
Strongly grounded in Christ, you can face conflict without fear, confident in the identity of Jesus, who also knew the cost of true discipleship. We emulate Jesus as the Son of God, who reveals God’s character
When we choose to accept Jesus into our hearts, we are saying that we cannot do this alone. That we have tried other outlets, other ways, and they have all come up short. That we want to find ultimate meaning and unending fulfillment outside of our selfish desires, and in the creator of both the Universe and the hairs on our heads.
This allows us to give up our endless pursuits of meaning, our desires to be someone or something that we are not. It moves us to be who God has called and created us to be once and for all. His chosen, forgiven, created, beloved children called and empowered to live and love ourselves and this world by his power and love.