Who Are You?
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
The question “who are you?” seems incredibly simple. Postmodern women and men, however, find the answer to be allusive. The evolution of postmodern self-consciousness is incredibly complex. The result seems to be uniform and evident. Postmodern western culture has produced the autonomous
Individual freedom, in every sense, is the ultimate value in our culture. The individual is either forcibly disconnected, or chooses to be disconnected, from traditional markers of identity found in webs of family, historic culture, and religious tradition. The individual is left to choose what will constitute the core of identity. The centers of identity vary greatly from this individual to the next; vocation, wealth, ethnicity, gender, entertainment, and addictions are just a few of the centers to which individuals go to find clues for interpreting everyday life and making everyday choices.
Some folks seem to find the work of self-definition and identity an easy process. Many other folks,
however, seem to struggle- particularly if they are vulnerable and have had past trauma in life. There is an increasing tendency to define oneself against another self, leading to increased aggression and violence. Some find one identity doesn’t work and there is a restless search for another. Our culture is increasingly fragmented, restless and purposeless.
The Bible tells us that we aren’t meant to define ourselves; the self is a gift given by God and we are
made to find our identity in God. We are “image bearers” created to reflect God’s character to creation and to reflect the praise of creation back to God. Another word for “image bearer” is “priest.” “God” is a big idea, what could that mean for you and me?
I am fascinated by the way the followers of Jesus found their identity in Christ. After the resurrection they found themselves continuing the work of Jesus. The Book of Acts tells us that “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people…Crowds gathered…bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.” (Acts 5:12,16) The followers of Jesus knew what they were supposed to be doing; they knew their purpose. That purpose had to do not with themselves, but in being a part of the blessing of other people.
But there is more. Their purpose wasn’t what they had always wanted to do. To get to the place of
effectiveness and peace, they found that self-will had to die. Their death to self had been painful. The apostles had been with Jesus on the night of his arrest, trial, and the day of his crucifixion. They had denied Jesus and they fled. On Friday their plans, their ambitions, their faith in self, died with Jesus. Paul wrote “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) Coming to the “end of our rope” is always painful.
As the disciples shared in the death of Christ, they also discovered they shared in his new, indestructible, resurrection life. As the apostles talked with Jesus, shared meals, and touched his resurrection body, they became convinced that life lay beyond death. And more than life beyond death, they experienced the continuing presence of Jesus as they went about his ministry. Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
The new identity in Christ proved to be resilient. They were able to stand up against life. When the
totalitarian authorities that put Jesus to death arrested the apostles and demanded they stop talking
about Jesus, they refused to cooperate. When severely beaten, they celebrated their identity in Christ, they went “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41) In a restless world in search of identity, the gospel invites you and me to find who we are, by losing ourselves in Him. His identity is an identity that is so resilient that it stands up through eternity.