Summary: One of the first steps in understanding how we are to respond to God’s grace it to discover who we are and what God has done for us.
Psalm 139:1-4, 13-18 “Who Are You, Really”
We are going to begin something new. Isn’t that exciting! I’ve always enjoyed beginning a new class or starting a new activity, even though I knew it was going to take work and determination. I’ve anticipated the change and the benefits that what I was going to do would bring to my life.
I hope that you have that type of anticipation as we begin our Lenten series on “Living a Life on Loan.” This series has the potential of transforming your life inside and out. Truthfully, though, the level of change that occurs in your life is somewhat dependent on your level of involvement in the Lenten activities that are available to you. The first level of involvement is attending worship and listening to a sermon. The second level is purchasing the book, reading it and pondering its message. The third level is committing yourself to participate in an adult small group for six weeks in order to discover with your brothers and sisters in Christ how “Living a Life on Loan” impacts your lives today. It is my prayer that you will open yourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit and commit yourselves to growing in your relationship with God and in faith during the season of Lent.
So, let’s begin. We start this process of growth by first taking a moment to look at ourselves.
Who are we? How do we identify ourselves? Usually we identify ourselves by either our relationships or by our activities. In most of the countries from which we or our ancestors emigrate part of the person’s name identified his or her parentage. Jesus was Jesus Ben Joseph (son of Joseph), or Jesus of Nazareth. For those of us with Scandinavian heritage, we were often identified as Peter’s son, or Johan’s son, and those from the Latin countries either had the suffix “de la” or had both their father’s and mother’s names included in their own.
Science tells us that our relations and relationships play an important part in shaping us and making us who we are. We are the products of our genes and our social environments. Genes are being discovered to play an ever increasing role in making us who we are. Genes have been discovered to make us resistant or susceptible to diseases, our tendency to become overweight, and even our like or dislike for chocolate. We used to be able to blame Satan for our sins—“The devil made me do it.” Now, we can blame our genes—“I’m sorry, I’ve got a recessive gene and I can help myself.”
Our individuality and our social setting are certainly a big part of our story as people. It isn’t very inspiring, though, to see ourselves only as bits and pieces of protoplasm, whose movements are controlled and determined by genetic coding and social environment, which are moving aimlessly around a ball of cosmic dust. There must be more to it than that!
In addition to gifts and talents and how we grew up, many times we identify ourselves by what we do. We may be doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, artists, hikers, golfers, or students. Our vocations tell a great deal about us, but in reality, they aren’t really us. As has been said, we are human BEINGS, and not human DOINGS.
Vocations change without changing who we are. There are times through accidents, disease or aging, when we lose the ability to do much of anything. Does that mean that we lose our identity, or even worse, our worth? We must delve further to discover the core of our identity—who we really are. This is the subject of Psalm 139.
CREATED BY GOD
The Psalmist celebrates God’s divine activity in our creation. In verse 13 he writes, “For it was you who formed my inwards parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Science and high-school sex education classes have taken some of the poetry out of procreation and reproduction, still the truth of the Pslamist’s observation remains—God had a part in our creation.
We have not just happened. God was moving in our genetic code and social environment to not only make us uniquely ourselves, but also to make us who God wanted us to be. We came into being that the specific time that God wanted us to. We have the gifts, talents, personality, strengths and weaknesses that God wants us to have. We are a part of God plan—a part of God’s will.
We may be tempted to take issue with God. Our feet may be too big, our nose crooked, and we might wonder if God mixed up the our blueprints with another model when it came to the size of our butt. We might not like having allergies, or being near sighted. Will power, logic, and organization may be our weaknesses instead of our strengths. But one this is for certain—God made us and God doesn’t make junk.