Summary: God has created, shaped and redeemed you with a specific identity, common to all of His creation, unique to you. Discover this wonderful identity that God is writing on your heart.
God is the Author of My Identity
“I’ve always wanted to be somebody. But now I see I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin
“Who am I?”
One of the great myths of our day is that in your teenage years you figure out who you are and then you live out that identity after you’ve grown up. The truth is quite different. In adolescence we figure out some boundaries of who we might become and then we spend the rest of our adult figuring out who we are. The search for identity is a life-long one. After all there are so many questions about life, about people, about myself that I don’t even know to ask, much less how to answer, until much later in life.
And this is such an important question, isn’t it? Who I am defines so much. Who I am defines how I handle myself on the job. Who I am dictates how I relate to my spouse. Who I am determines how I raise my children, how I speak about others, how I handle difficulty, how I respond to hate… Who I am even defines how I relate to God. So perhaps its rather important for me to get a healthy, balanced view of my own identity.
That’s what I hope we’re going to be able to start on this morning. And this will only be a starting point. But we’ve got to start somewhere.
So let’s begin by asking this, “What has God done to show me my identity?” “What has God done to make known to me who I am?”
First, God created me. With his own hands, God created me. One of the most fundamental gifts of the Judeo-Christian heritage is its primary assumption of God as the creator of humanity. From Genesis 1, the first pages of the Hebrew-Christian cannon, we read:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
From the very start, God is identified as the creator. In fact, the title Creator is a powerful title addressing God. We pray to Creator God. This assumption of God’s direct involvement in creation is echoed in the poetry of the Older Testament. From the Psalms and from Jeremiah we hear it:
“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.” Psalm 119:73
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
“Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” Job 31:15
But not only do we acknowledge that God has created each and every one of us, we recognize that God is continually shaping each of us; continually forming and reforming us as elements of His creation. God shapes me. From Jeremiah 18:6 we read God speaking to Israel through the prophet:
“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:6
And truly, we are clay in the hands of the Master Potter. God shapes our lives – and this is a continual process isn’t it.
We pretty much never reach a point when God is finished. If we’re breathing, he’s still busy. You never wake up and suddenly realize, “This is it. I’ve become everything God wants me to become. I’m done. I’m a finished project.” And if you do wake up feeling that… get ready. The potter is probably just taking a quick break – to relax before he dives into the really heavy work.
From that incredible resource of theological insight, we read on bumper stickers often, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” How true.
God creates me, God shapes me and thirdly God purchases me. Or maybe an even better way to say that would be not God buys me… but instead God buys me back. I was his to begin with and then he purchased me back from the Overlord of Sin and Death.
From the first of Paul’s impassioned letters to the Corinthians we read:
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
And listen to the powerful imagery John the beloved Apostle gives to us in this scene from Revelation:
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5: 6,9