Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who Am I?

Who am I…?” The stuttered question was spoken through dry lips.

It had been business as usual on the backside of the desert. Moses had been leading the nomadic life of a lonely shepherd for forty years now. This morning was no different from the thousands of others in his experience—or so he thought. Had the late Walter Cronkite been reporting this event we would have heard those oft repeated words, “And this has been a day like any other has been…except …you were there!”

Try to imagine Moses’ absolute amazement as he witnessed a nondescript little bush on fire, yet not being consumed. Then the voice of God came from the bush and commanded Moses to return to Egypt, stand before Pharaoh, and demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. No small task! And Moses’ immediate response was “Who me? Who am I? I can’t speak well. You must have me confused with someone else!”

This is a completely opposite response to Isaiah’s response to God’s call which we will see later in chapter twenty-one. Isaiah said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Listen to Moses as he responds to his call, saying: “Who am I to do that job? You need to send someone else!” Even though Moses had been educated in the finest private schools of the most progressive nation of the world, forty years of isolation had taken their toll on his self-confidence. Forty years alone will lead anyone to ask, “Who am I?” Yet Who am I? is an appropriate question for each of us to ask ourselves.

Moses epitomizes one who is suffering from a poor self- image and little self-confidence. Unfortunately, many believers today spend their lives posturing from a low self-image. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that as a man “thinks in his heart, so is he.” I am not so idealistic as to think that in reading this brief chapter a lifetime of low self-image can be translated into one that is healthy and positive. However, I am emboldened enough by my faith to believe that new thought patterns can begin to replace the lies and enable you to find your self-worth in your position in Christ. So who are you really? Let’s find out.

An Explanation

Who am I? The Bible reveals that we are a composite of “spirit, soul, and body” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). However, note that we don’t phrase it in this order. We generally say “body, soul, and spirit.” This, subconsciously, is because we are so body conscious, and that painful awareness too often determines our evaluation of who we really are. After all, the body is visible. We pet it and pamper it. We tan it and tone it. We measure it and weigh it regularly. But one day it will go right back to the dust from which God created it.

We are not just bodies, though. Our soul is the seat of our emotions. It is our feelings about ourselves that too often dictate our own self-worth, or lack thereof. Our spirit is that part of us that will live as long as God lives. It is our spirit that connects with God’s Spirit—spirit bearing witness with Spirit that we are His children. So who am I? I am a spirit-soul… I am just living for a few short years in a body.

The marketplace is loaded with books and videos on self- image, and most of these deal only with the physical side of our being. They tell us how to dress for success. They have clever formulas for obtaining the upper hand in relationships. They focus on weight loss and other aspects of our physical appearance. Then there are those that focus on the soul, on the realm of emotions. These resources tell us things like how to win friends and how to keep hold of our emotions so that we can obtain influence and advantage over others.

But I am not my body, and I only have a soul. I am a spirit. Therefore, the Bible is the best self-help, self-awareness, self-image, self-confidence book ever written because it explains who I really am. Again, who am I? I am a spirit made in the very image of God.

An Illustration

Jesus illustrated this very point for us in Luke 16 with the story of a beggar and a rich man who both die. Lazarus, the beggar, died and was carried into “Abraham’s bosom,” the Hebrew representation of heaven (v. 22). His body was in the grave, but he was in the bosom of Abraham. Why? Because Lazarus was a spirit, not a body.
And the rich man? Jesus said he ended up in hell. So his body was in the grave, but his soul and spirit were still alive. He could still remember. He still had emotions. He was tormented. And he was troubled about his brothers’ destiny. This rich man’s five brothers did not know God, and now banished in hell, this rich man knew that an eternity of punishment for their sinfulness awaited them.

Our only means of truly knowing God is by our spirit. It is impossible to have a spiritual relationship with Him based on mere human knowledge. As Jesus said to the woman at a well, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Without a relationship of spirit to Spirit, you can never know God because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

So when you ask, “Who am I?” know that you are spirit. That is your real identity and the seat of your self-worth.

An Application

Since we human beings are in essence spirit, we cannot depend on the physical for a proper self-image. The clothes we wear and how we look should not determine our self-worth. Neither should our emotions—the soul part of us—determine our self-worth. All the positive thinking and pumping ourselves up, all our taking hold of our emotions will never provide a healthy or accurate sense of worth. Each of us must discover for ourselves who we really are: a spirit being led by God’s own Spirit (Romans 8:14). Only in the Person of Christ in us will we find true self-worth.

Finally, back to Moses. This timid, stammering, reluctant Moses went away from that burning bush to become the great emancipator of God’s people and the leader of a great nation. This same man who began by asking, “Who am I?” is last seen in Scripture on the Mount of Transfiguration amidst the glory of Jesus Himself.

Understanding who he was because of God’s power and grace gave Moses confidence and strength for the task he was called to do. Similarly, when our spirit connects with the Holy Spirit, then we will have an accurate and healthy self-image, for “Christ in you [is] the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Q & A: “Who am I?” No one on the planet ever has or ever will have DNA exactly like yours, and you, in all your uniqueness, are indescribably valuable to God. So remember that you are a spirit . . . simply living in a body for a short time. And I am convinced that if we fed our spirit as much as we feed our bodies, we would realize who we really are, and a God-given positive and powerful self-image would be ours. “Christ in you [is] the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27).

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