Do You Know Who You Are? Do You Know the One Who Does?

identityWe’ve all seen it. A person of influence is being treated like a nobody and what do they ask: “Do you know who I am”? This question carries with it a presumption that if the person knew who they were dealing with they would treat them differently. Many times this comes from a place of pride or expectation that I should be treated better because I am better. Sometimes it’s a warranted question, sometimes not so much. Today I’d like to ask a different question: Do you know who you are? No really, truly, deeply – do you know? This question has surfaced for me in a few different forms over the past few months so it’s not something I could ignore and naturally something that I felt needed to be shared. This is NOT a rhetorical question. There is an answer, and until we truly understand the CORRECT answer to this question we are going to miss out on a whole bunch.

I’ve had the pleasure, over the past few months, to participate in a weekly men’s group led by Keith Wilson from Center Pointe Christian Church in OH. It’s been great getting to know this group of guys and discussing some pretty cool stuff on a weekly basis. One of the things that we’ve been covering is our identity: where does it come from and how does it effect us? I’ll cut to the chase here and say that our identity comes from the one that created us. Many of you will agree with this whole-heartedly, and so did I, BUT agreement doesn’t always translate to understanding. Just being honest with you, as Keith has unpacked this concept with us, the idea of being created in His image [Genesis 1:27] has become much more real, substantial, and meaningful for me. My thought processes are changing and I’m beginning to see circumstances, opportunities, and interactions in a different way. My revelation: God’s perspective, His view of me, NEVER changes. He created me, He defined me, He adopted me , He made me who I am, and nothing I could ever do will change that. This doesn’t mean that I don’t forget who I am, on occasion, and miss an opportunity or do something that is completely contrary to who He made me to be. However, these moments do not define me…He does. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to truly understand this. My mistakes do not define me and neither do my successes.

When we misunderstand who we are, it can play out in different ways. The American dream tells us that we can have and be whatever we want. We just need to study hard, work hard, and success is ours. Success being a bigger house, better car, more stuff, a more comfortable life, or greater respect from those around us. If we are not careful, we begin to put our identity into our success and believe that this is what defines us. We begin to believe the lie that our job title, our salary, the accolades that we receive make us who we are and this becomes our focus. Our self worth rises and falls with accomplishments and failures. Sometimes the successes are great and our identity becomes more and more about just how much we can accomplish. Sometimes failure takes over and we begin to see ourselves as just that – a failure. Both sides are a misunderstanding. Having lived in the Dominican Republic for the past several months I’ve seen another side of this that is new to me. I’ve encountered people who do not currently and will never have the “opportunities” that most Americans are afforded. Hard work does not mean one day making it to the corner office; it is merely a way to put food on the table and shelter to sleep in. Given these circumstances, people tend to believe the lie that hunger, poverty, lack of education, or a bad decision that landed them in prison defines who they are. This, again, is a huge misunderstanding.

The truth is this: each of us were created by and for a loving God who is willing to suffer so that we would not have to spend an eternity separated from Him. The Creator loves His creation (you and me) more than you can fathom. He also knows you better and deeper than you can imagine…better and deeper than you know yourself. You can spend a lifetime testing yourself, pushing yourself, exploring your strengths and weaknesses and still not get it. Luckily there is a better way. Look at it like this, if you were given an object that you knew nothing about and were told to figure out what it was and how to use it, what would you do? Now imagine that you personally know the creator of this object. Would you ignore the creator and spend hours testing the object? Most of us would probably not take this approach. We would take the object and put it into the hands of the creator and have him show us. The creator knows the origin, the reason, the purpose, and the best use of his creation. It began with a desire to create which led to a process of creation and finally an appreciation of the final product. However, nothing brings the creator more joy than to see his creation used for its purpose and at it’s fullest potential. Who is more suitable to give an explanation and a demonstration of this object than the creator himself? Given this example, I think you’d agree with me that’s it’s much more beneficial to examine the creator than the creation. Are you with me?

I can not explain to you the burden that this has lifted from my shoulders. I do not have to check off a list of dos and don’ts to become who I should be…I am who He made me, and that cannot be changed. The deeper my understanding of this fact becomes and the more focused I am on Him each day the more my life will reflect who He made me to be. This has also allowed me to step back and view the ministry that we serve with through a somewhat different lens. Each day, through Project Mañana children are fed and educated, families are given clean water, inmates are given community, friendship, and gospel, and so much more. However, these things are not the end-goal. We give nutrition, education, clean water, and relationships to remove the barriers that have become their identity. We remove the barriers so that we can share with them the one who knows their true identity. The rest is up to Him. There is nothing more powerful than this and nothing that can make a more positive impact in each of our lives than to acknowledge our creator and to spend the rest of our lives drawing closer to Him. After all, the creation is most useful in the hands of the one that created it.