Last night, my pastor preached a philosophical sermon my broken heart desperately needed to hear. In it, he tackled one of the biggest questions everyone faces at some point in their lives: “Who am I?”
There is a verse in Acts 17 that gives great insight to that question.
Acts 17:28 says this: “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”
A few things to note here:
- You are a being, which means you are a something. You are not nothing.
- Because you are a something and not nothing, you have intrinsic value to the One who made you.
- You matter to God. He’s crazy about you. You bear His image, which makes you His child.
- Because you are His child, your identity as a human being is in Him.
The Issue with Identity
We humans tend to get into trouble when we start basing our identity on something other than God. When asked “who am I?” instead of thinking in terms of identity, we, especially in America, tend to think in terms of “what’s my purpose?” These are two different, yet important, questions. And as mentioned before, Acts 17:28 more than adequately answers that question.
What Not to Base Identity On
Towards the end of his sermon, Pastor Doug gave examples of what not to base our intrinsic value on.
Two things he said, which were indicators that identity was not based on Christ, pierced me so deep I had to check my shirt to make sure it was dagger-free:
1. You are a human being, not a human doing.
In short, you matter. Regardless of what you do (or don’t do), you still have immense worth. Don’t read your Bible every day? Don’t set your alarm at 1-hour intervals for prayer? Not signing up for the next mission trip? Don’t want to serve in the children’s ministry? That’s okay. You still have intrinsic value. Doing good things for God is not going to make Him love or bless you more.
2. You base your worth on your work.
When he said this, I’m pretty sure most, if not half of the congregation, myself included, made a noise resembling a wounded animal. That hurt! It especially hit me hard because I’m dealing with job loss. We live in a world where our work relationships, and sadly, sometimes those outside of work, are based on performance. Thanks be unto God that we don’t have to perform for Him.
We don’t have to hustle or compete for His love. If all you do is just sit and be with Him on a lazy Saturday afternoon, guess what? You are still loved and valued. You still matter. And because we don’t have to feign our feelings or hide, it frees us to love Him and others with all of our being.
I know that everything I just said goes against everything our culture tells us, but it’s true. You and I have worth and value, not because of how awesome we are—but we are awesome—but because we are image-bearers of God. We don’t have to hustle or perform for Him, we just have to be with Him. We are beings. We are something; we are not nothing. In Him, we live, move, and have our identity.