How do you answer the question of yourself: who am I?
What would you say to me if over a pot of tea I said to you, “I’ve known you for quite a while, but tell me, who are you?”
I’ve heard people say, “I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I used to be.” Great, then tell me who you are now?
Can you answer who you are? Can you give an answer that is yours alone and not someone else’s? Can you do it without copying a canned answer you learned somewhere else—say, in church?
Given that—who are you?
The question of identity courses through Scripture as it does through the earth. Isaac asked “Who are you” of his son, Jacob. Joshua asked it of some travelers. Boaz asked a young woman “Who are you?” The storyline of the Bible shows individuals, mankind, the saints, Satan, and of course, God, being interested in who they are.
The identity of Jesus was asked in John 8. Jesus had an answer uniquely his own. He was consistent to say “from the beginning” exactly who he was. The Gospels unpack Jesus’ answers.
John the Baptist was also asked, “Who are you?” (John 1). His answer was also his own. John first declared who he was not. He said, “I am not the Christ.” John then said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” John understood his unique identity in relation to Jesus.
Figuring out who you are may not be easy, even in this age of self.
G.K. Chesterton’s magisterial work Orthodoxy was published in 1908. In it, Chesterton humbly answers his own self-identity—“God knows.”
Os Guinness writes of a George MacDonald sermon titled “The New Name.” MacDonald preached that Jesus promised “a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it … the true name is one which expressed the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol—his soul’s picture, in a word—the sign which belongs to him and no one else.”
So, how would you share a unique sketch of your soul?
Parties can be a good place to practice the art of self-introduction. How about trying the approach John the Baptist used: “Hi, I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m not the Christ.” Now that would be a pretty memorable icebreaker!
In all seriousness, if you wanted someone to really know you, how would you introduce yourself?
When you know who you are, and say it your own words—now that’s something to Celebrate!