Have you ever noticed that Jesus asks great questions? What do you want me to do for you? Who of you by worrying can add a single day to your life? Do you believe I can do this for you?
He doesn’t ask questions because he needs answers. He’s God. He already knows. He asks them because the question is meant to stir the listener to think and to respond.
One day he turns to his followers and asks, “Who do people say I am?”
His disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
As with his other questions, when Jesus asks this, he isn’t looking for his disciples or the people in general to give him clues as to his identity and purpose. He was already very secure and sure of who he was and what he was called to (have a read of Luke 4.16-21). The question wasn’t for him, it was for them.
We are not always like Jesus! In so many ways, we live our lives asking the question, “Who do people say I am?” Unsure of the answer we look for our identity to be defined by the likes we get on Instagram, the people we spend time with, the ways we serve God, the way we look, the things we’re good at. And the trouble with all of these is that they are unreliable, they don’t tell us the whole story, and they won’t consistently give us the true answer.
For a long time I defined myself as a failure. There were a couple of things I’d tried that hadn’t quite gone according to plan, and when they went wrong it had been painful. I grew scared to try anything new, to step out in any way in case more failure broke me completely.
I had allowed certain circumstances define the question ‘who am I?’ and the label ‘failure’ became really hard to wear and the fear became really hard to bare.
But God had a different answer to my question. He had his beautiful truth. Through his loving Holy Spirit, through the care of some very wise Christians, through the truth found in his word, he began to heal me and give me a new identity. Isaiah 43.1 says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” God showed me that he had a new identity, that making mistakes doesn’t have to define me. He gave me a new name to live by. Loved, valuable, precious, bold, truth-speaker, an encourager, a secure child of God. And more!
This wasn’t a once-and-forever healing. Many years on I still have to choose the way I define myself – looking to him for the first and final answer. Daily. My job doesn’t define me. My weight doesn’t define me. My friends don’t define me. My failures don’t define me. Only Jesus.
How are you defining yourself? Who are you directing your questions about your identity and purpose to? God calls you out of uncertainty and fear. He calls you by name. It’s time to let go of old and inaccurate labels and take hold of His truth. Look to God and his word and you will find you are deeply loved, full of purpose, and you are His.