A popular song from years ago asks the question, “Who are you?” (It was sung by “The Who” and illustrates a meaningless worldview without God—cf. Ecclesiastes.) The song was then more popularized by a television show that was associated with finding the identity of both crime victims and perpetrators. We always like a good “whodunit?”
It is one thing to try to find the identity of another person, but to find our own identity can be daunting and scary. Many people who are quite alive and well have no idea who they really are, and they muddle through life trying to figure that out. They know their own names, of course. They know who their parents are, where they live, and what kind of job they are to do. They superficially know some about themselves, but on a much deeper level, they really don’t know who they are. They see no real meaning to their existence. They don’t know what the point of life is. This is more psychological, emotional, and spiritual. We become lost not knowing who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and why anything at all really matters. There are surely moments at which we can identify with Koheleth:
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?” (Eccl 1:2-3)
What is the point of our existence? Why do we work so hard just to go to bed, get up, and do it all over again the next day? Everything is fleeting and there seems to be very little substance. The questions never cease, and this can lead to a life of frustration and confusion.
[epq-quote align=”align-right”]I am fearfully and wonderfully made[/epq-quote]Sadly, the story of mankind is a cyclical story of loss and tragedy. We lose our sense of identity because we are trying to force ourselves into a mold that we were never meant to fit. We lose our sense of humanity by trying to live in sin. In so doing, we act like “unreasoning animals” (cf. Jude 10), essentially giving up our dignity of being human in order to act like beasts. God tells us that we are better than this.
Who are you? The psalmist knew this: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psa 139:14). Humans are amazing and wonderful. Of all of creation, we are the only beings that are said to be made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27), and there is nothing trivial about that. In fact, that understanding will make all the difference in the world.
How many animals do we ever see sitting around and trying to “find themselves”? How many have “identity crises”? How many try to figure out their moral nature or feel truly broken because of their failures? How many think so deeply about their nature, their responsibilities, their relationships? You get the idea. We, as humans, are the crown of God’s creation. We are much more than unreasoning animals.
Is this to be a source of pride? Not at all, for in recognizing who we are, we are simply coming into an understanding and agreement of the way God made us. It is not pride, but humility that brings us to the point of recognizing who God is in relationship to who we are. From that point, we humbly submit ourselves to the will of God, knowing for whom we are made.
Sadly, we as human beings, not animals, are also the reason for the curse on God’s creation (Gen 3). Why? Because when we sin, we lose sight of who we are. We are acting in ways for which we are not created. We are acting against our nature as being in God’s image. Though we have the capacity to do wrong because God gave us free will, God did not put us here for the reason of doing wrong. He put us here to glorify Him, and the greatest way to glorify God is to choose to love Him with all our hearts and souls. Sin is self-damaging because it degrades who we are.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Pet 2:16).
Did your parents ever tell you to “Remember who you are”? What do you think they meant by that? “Who you are” is more than your name, but your name represents something dignified and honorable. Acting in a way that is unbecoming of that means you have forgotten who you are. How much more should we who have taken on the name of Christ remember this? Who you are is a child of God, a Christian who seeks first His kingdom and righteousness. You are made for better things than sin. You are made for greater glory than anything this world offers.
Who are you? If you are a child of the King, you should already know the answer. Therefore, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).