That question is never answered by most people who walk the planet. In a quest to receive an identity, most of us end up substituting the answer for “What am I?” and never make significant connection with the essential answer to “Who am I?”
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an attorney. I am an athlete. I am an author. I am beautiful. I am plain. I am wealthy. I am poor. I am American. I am black. I am Latino. I am white. I am single. I am divorced. I am engaged. I am funny. I am shy. I am overweight. I am disciplined. I am Baptist. I am Methodist. I am Catholic. I am Pentecostal. I am educated. I am a traveler. I am a thief. I am an alcoholic. I am a victim. I am a survivor. I am searching.
You know that the list of “What I am” might go on for pages and pages. Unfortunately, none of these things reveal your identity to you. Let me give you something that I recommend you ponder until it sinks deep into your soul and begins to transform the way you view yourself:
The things that describe you do not define you.
All of our personality traits, all the things which characterize our appearance, all the roles we might occupy during life, our careers, our marital status, our flavor of religion, our successes and failures, the culture we were raised in… all of these things may be important to describe us but they are external for the most part and some of them are highly subject to change with time. You and I do not need to be described. We need to be defined. Here is what Scripture teaches the followers of Jesus about who we are:
“You are Christ’s.” – 1st Corinthians 3:23
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Colossians 3:3-4
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” – Romans 8:16-17
For those who are followers of Jesus through trust in His promises, His perfection and His sacrifice, they are identified by their union with Him. We belong to Him. He has assigned us a new identity as beloved children of the God of the Universe. Our lives are wrapped up in Jesus Christ and He is the very substance of our lives and identities. The fullness of this reality cannot be fathomed until Christ returns in all of His splendor, at which time we also will appear in the glory which awaits us. The nature of the life of the Christian is that we laid down our lives in the One who laid down His life for us. Our union with Christ is certainly mystical but that does not mean that it is impractical. When we come to understand that we are complete in Jesus (Col. 2:10), entirely acceptable to the Father through Jesus (Eph. 1:6) and absolutely free of fearful condemnation from God because of the work of Jesus (Rom. 8:1), we began to understand that what describes externally us does not define us in our essence. The greatest reality attached to the life of the believer is that we are unconditionally loved by the Supreme King over all. We are His.
So you may describe me as a white, middle aged mad – but don’t define me as such. You may describe as an American pastor – but I am more than that. I can be described in ways that include extreme failures up until the age of twenty-four – but I will never be defined by those things. Successes? I have many but I am not equal to or limited by my successes. I treasure Amy and am blessed to be her husband, but this is not the sum total of who I am. Alicia and Landon have a father who treasures them… but he is not defined by them. I serve a Baptist congregation but I am not a Baptist. I know what I am, I know what I am not. Most importantly, I know who I am.
I am Jeff, beloved by the Father, identified in the Son and secure in the Spirit.
So who are you?