Who Are You?
Who are you? Maybe when you hear that question you might think I’m asking “what is your name?” or “where do you come from?” That’s not what I’m asking. Think more along the lines of when Derek Zoolander, in a state of distress, wondered aloud to his reflection in a puddle, “Who am I?”
What is your identity? What is perhaps the defining thing about yourself that you would answer with? Maybe you’d say I’m a dad, or I’m single, or I’m sick. All of those things can be true, but ask yourself that question again, but “who am I to God?”
A nuisance? A failure? A screw up? Worthless?
It’s a difficult question to answer, especially when you know your darkest secrets, most hidden sins, and private thoughts. You know what you are. You know what you’ve done, the evil you are capable of, and how easily you can wander from following God to ruling your own life. It’s an uncomfortable question. But I’d suggest we are asking the wrong question. Instead of wondering, like Mr. Zoolander, “who am I?” we should ask “who does God say that I am?”
Who does God say that I am?
I had a “gospel breakthrough” when I was around 19 years old. This wasn’t a breakthrough in the sense I learned more, although i did. What happened was understanding connected to my heart and it moved me to worship and see the gospel in a deeper, fresh way. It happened when I was reading through Galatians 3. I had just finished reading the chapter and was looking through some comments on that chapter and came across a latin phrase the reformer Martin Luther wrote. He says that the christian (those that belong to God as family as adopted sons and daughters) is simul justus et peccator. It’s a simple phrase but is pregnant with meaning. It means simultaneously righteous/just and sinner. At the same time, you are both saint and sinner.
In our incompetent, can’t measure up, always failing/wandering/rebelling sinfulness towards and against God, we are are still considered righteous. It’s a beautiful phrase because it points to who we are as Jesus bride – spotless, beautiful, worthy – because of what Jesus has done on the cross. He became like us, sinful and dirty, so we could become like him. This is who we are as Jesus’ beloved bride. Jesus life and death in our place outshines our rebellion against him.
Even when we screw up and put a metaphorical stain on our spotless wedding dress that Jesus has clothed us in, he cleans us. He makes us pure.
My gospel breakthrough was connecting these two ideas: Jesus work for me and my sinfulness. I know Jesus died for me. I know his blood has washed my sin away and his death in my place has made me a son of God. But i keep on sinning. I keep on failing. So who am I? Saint or sinner? Beloved bride or unfaithful? Because I often feel more like the latter.
But the beautiful thing about the Gospel and an amazing thing about God is that he doesn’t have a recency bias (how have I been behaving lately?) Before the foundations of the earth were laid, knowing every sinful thing i would ever do, he chose me to be holy and blameless. An adopted son. The beloved bride of Jesus.
On your very worst day, in your very worst moment, know that Jesus gave you his best. He clothed you with his radiant, beautiful righteousness, and he answered the question for you.
You are his. You belong. You are beloved. And there is nothing you could do to change that.
A Deacon at The Paradox Church