So, who are you?
Seems like a harmless question, doesn’t it? Yet, confronted with that question, there are SO many ways we can respond. I’m a husband to Helen. I’m a father to Jared and Courtney. I’m a son to Richard and Carol. I’m a business executive. I’m an alumni of the University of Southern California and Stanford University. I’m many things, and I’m also not many things. But when we think about who we are, I think it’s also telling how we choose to identify ourselves because it shows who we consider ourselves to be.
Lately, a lot of our conversations for some reason have centered on our identity, and particularly our identity to God. I’ve also read a few books of late that talked about our Biblical identity. As I’ve contemplated those, it seems clear to me that our identity to God is a reflection of our view of not who we are but our view of who God is. If we truly want to understand who we really are, we need to reflect more on who God is and who He says we are … given we are made in His image.
One of the most moving and critical aspects of our image – our identity in God – stemmed from my reading this week from Psalms 53 – 58 and Proverbs 9. In Psalms 57:7-10, King David writes,
My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Right out of the gate, I love David’s expression … “my heart is confident in you, O God.” As I read that, it seemed to jump out at me and say, “God, I KNOW who I am.” I don’t know if this is the proper, technical way to exegete this particular passage and these particular Hebrew words, but when I step back for a minute and picture David both writing it, and singing it perhaps, it feels to me like a declaration of identity. I mean, when we think of someone’s heart, we think about their personhood. So hearing David proclaim “my heart is confident” to me is akin to professing, “my identity is confident.” I think he’s letting us know that our identity should be confident as well. But we’ll get back to that.
Why can David declare that his “identity is confident?” Why does he also pronounce that he “will sing [God’s] praises among the nations?” We find the answer (as is typically the case with God scriptures) in the next part of the passage … because “For [God’s] unfailing love is as high as the heavens. [God’s] faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” That is, what makes David’s identity confident is God’s loving nature. Yeah, I probably need to tie this together a little better.
Bottom line for me this week in my reflection on my reading each day … what allows me and you to be confident in who we truly are is who God truly is. In other words, when we truly understand that God is immensely and infinitely loving, we can infer our identity because God goes to incredible lengths to demonstrate that love to and for us. And this is where I think a lot of us have a bit of a blockage.
It seems that many of us have a difficult time accepting that God loves us. It may be that we haven’t often enough felt love from certain people in our lives, or we have pretty tough pasts that we don’t find particularly lovable and hence find it difficult to think that anyone else could (including God). It might be that we have never been given the opportunity to learn about God and His love for us. Or we’ve been taught a non-biblical view of God in the past that for some reason excludes His unconditional love for us. Regardless of why or how, it might be difficult for us to think that God could love us.
But God’s word is clear … so very crystal clear … throughout. HE LOVES US. He sent His Son Jesus to die for us. There are far too many examples from His word and far too many ways He shows us, and I’m not equipped enough with skills or space to go through all the reasons it’s so. I’ll just rely on the passage above to say what so many compatriot passages in the Bible say … HE … LOVES … US.
And that, dear friends, is the answer to the question “who are you?” That, dear friends, is our identity. We are loved of God. It’s not what we are, it’s who we are. Loved.
When we realize – and accept – that our identity is “loved by God,” we can accept a number of other identity truths. That He sent Jesus to die for us even though we didn’t and couldn’t deserve it; that He forgives our sins … all of them, past, present, and future; that He promises He will never leave us or disregard us; that once we belong to Him no one can ever take us away from Him; and that throughout every day of our lives He will be constantly present, actively involved, and eternally faithful. Yes, those are things that are true about Him, but they’re also true about us. And they are indelibly tied to who we are. Loved.
God isn’t some mean-spirited, distant deity in heaven waiting for us to goof up so He can zap us. He’s our Father. He doesn’t want us to wallow in guilt and condemnation. He wants us to realize He loves us and just wants us to let go of what and who we used to be and to be who He designed us to be. His arms are always open to embrace us when we go to Him in our pain. He knows all the bad things we did, are doing, and will do, and yet He still loves us.
So, who are you?
You are … loved by God.
Soli Deo gloria!