Who Am I? My Identity Creed

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One of the deepest questions of human experience is this: “Who am I?”  And this question seems more urgent for our generation as we tumble into the abyss of self definition.  Is there anything that I “objectively” am.  And I mean this as a human, and especially as a Christian?  And is this something I need to create or to recognize?

How can we wrestle with the contradiction that we are? How can we honestly embrace the innate virtue and vice that is humanity?

It seems that everyone is trying to sell us a story for this. And it is hard to take the answers seriously when they come from marketers, politicians, and angry preachers. On one side are the cheerleaders telling us how amazing everything is.  If I could just recognize my inner superhero, euphoria awaits! On the other side you have the misanthropes that can only see the evil and injustice of humanity.  They downplay the obvious value and virtue we see in the world.  Both sides see something important, and simultaneously miss something obvious.  How can we wrestle with the contradiction that we are? How can we honestly embrace the innate virtue and vice that is humanity?  My answer below comes from Christ and what he has done for me.

  • I am a unique human being designed by a wise and powerful creator. I am not merely an animal. Like every human I have an eternal soul. I have value and dignity because I am made in the image of God. I was made to be like him in goodness and creativity. I have the ability to love and be loved by God and others.
    • I am a fallen person. I have turned my back on God and chosen to break the laws he gave for my good.  Sin has affected every part of my body, soul and mind. I was designed by God for good, but on my own I do not have the strength or will to do his good purpose.  I am now broken by guilt and shame. My natural tendency is selfishness. My attempts to fix myself often make things worse.
    • I am now a redeemed child of God. I am not what I once was. Jesus took my nature so that he might die for me and be raised from the dead. I am loved and forgiven because of the work of Christ, and his Holy Spirit lives in me. I have confessed my sins and returned to God.  I have been made righteous in Christ, and though I battle with sin, his grace is at work in me to restore my soul. I am now part of the body of Christ, and my fellowship with God has been restored.
    • Though I struggle, my faith in his promise assures me that he will complete the work he has begun in me.  He is daily renewing me and I am slowly growing to maturity.  Through Jesus my sincere love and faith please God. One day he will completely renew me and all things. And though my body is still decaying, I look forward to the day when I will be with him forever. He is making me more like Christ. In this joy and hope I live and serve.

Photo Used By Permission Jonathan Lidbeck. Some Rights Reserved

How Does God Deliver Us?

“Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.”
Psalm 50:15

In meditating upon this verse I asked myself, “how does God deliver us?” This led me to think about the nature of our troubles and I came up with this attempt to help me understand the kinds of trouble I face and how Jesus helps me.

Concerning trouble (and deliverance from it) I would suggest that there are three things to consider. There are probably other ways of looking at this, but this was helpful to me. To help illustrate this, let me give an example from the story of David and Goliath:

  • The cause(s) of trouble: Goliath and the Philistine army.
  • The trouble itself: we will suffer painful injuries.
  • The results of the trouble: we will die and our people will be enslaved.

I think that God delivers us from the days of trouble in many different ways. I have come up with these 9 that have been a rebuke to my anxious unbelief. In some of these I use the concept of the cause of trouble and the trouble itself loosely and interchangeably because they are so often connected.

1. He gives us a different view of the trouble. He teaches us what the real trouble is. Sometimes after the fact we find that we were mistaken. Jesus teaches us this when He says that the fear and anxiety associated with lack of food or clothing can help us to learn that our lives are more than food and the body more than clothing. Sometimes the problem is “us.” Sometimes we are the cause of our problems with our sin and carelessness. We would like to escape the consequences without escaping our waywardness. But God delivers us by chastening us for our good.

We could further illustrate this by thinking of a scared child who is learning to swim. The child is crying and afraid, reluctant to get into the water, even in his mother’s arms. The child has a fear of drowning. We might say that this is the trouble for them. Although drowning is possible, in his mother’s arms there is little danger of this. The real problem is the fear of the water and not knowing how to swim. Through the tears the mother grabs the child (against his will!) and teaches him to swim and overcome his fear of the water.

2. He destroys the cause of the trouble Himself. At the Red Sea the children of Israel were faced with death and slaughter at the hands of pharaoh’s army. The Lord parted the Red Sea and destroyed the king of Egypt. At Jericho God interceded and miraculously brought down the walls of the city. The Lord sent and angel to deliver Peter from prison, and many times provided bread and water in the desert. When Hezekiah was threatened with siege and defeat at the hands of the king of Assyria, God sent an angel to kill 185,000 men and sent Sennacherib away (2 Kings 19:35).

3. He uses us and He uses our own efforts to overcome and destroy the trouble. We must trust first and call upon the Lord. Our own efforts won’t be enough to deliver us without God’s help. Yet often the Lord uses our efforts to overcome the trouble. It was the stone from David’s sling that brought down the giant, and the boy’s hand gripped the sword that severed Goliath’s head. Noah and his family were saved from the flood by they boat that he and his sons had built.

4. He causes our enemies (or trouble) to destroy themselves. Several times we read this kind of language in the book of proverbs: Proverbs 26:27, “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.” God brings victory through Gideon by driving the Midianites to destroy themselves (Judges 7). Several times when the Pharisees came questioning Jesus because of their jealousy, He returned a question that they could not answer. Their own jealousy put them to shame.

5. He helps us to understand and endure the trouble, and sometimes prevents the effects. We experience this when we “endure” temptation without giving in (James 1:12). In Jesus’ parable of the houses built on the rock and the sand, the storm comes upon both (Matt 7). Yet there is a very different outcome. Joseph is not saved from the experience of slavery or imprisonment, but allowed to endure and at the end even to understand God’s gracious purpose (Genesis 50:20).

6. He sends someone or something to help us through the trouble. In the midst of drought and famine, God provides for Elijah by sending Ravens with food, and later the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:4 and 9). Daniel is not spared from the Lion’s den, but an angel is sent to spare him from their teeth (Dan 6:22). When Paul is in prison, Onesiphorus comes to refresh him (2 Tim 1:16). And how many of us have received an unexpected check when we have prayed for the Lord to provide for us?

7. He does not remove the trouble but prevents the consequences from coming upon us. A deadly viper bites Paul, but he is unaffected by the venom (Acts 28:3). God does not spare Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego from the anger of the king, the trial and questioning, neither the shame of condemnation nor the furnace. But He spares them from the fire and honors them and Himself in the end.

8. He allows the consequences to come upon us to show us that He is our greatest treasure. God is going to judge the wickedness of the Jews, and He is going to use the military muscle of the Chaldeans to do it. Habakkuk is faced with the coming invasion that will be a judgment on the nation of Israel and lay waste her economy. Yet God gives grace and He is able to pray, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Hab. 3:17-18). In like manner when David is deprived of his royal palace, running from Absalom, and living in a desert wasteland, he prays, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water (psalm 63:1).” In this case something else was keeping us from really seeing that God is our greatest possession.

9. He uses the trouble at hand to end all of our troubles and take us to heaven. To some this may not sound like deliverance at all. But it is. Sometimes in our day of trouble we may die. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. In Romans chapter eight Paul says, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” What are “all these things?” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-27)” We become conquerors because we continue to trust and serve Him through the trials, and our enemies cannot touch our real security.

One amazing thought is that the death of Jesus as our ultimate deliverance involves many of these methods to bring us ultimate deliverance from our sin.

When I think of the different ways that God has delivered His people from trouble, and that He has promised to deliver me when I call upon Him, I am ashamed that I struggle with so much anxiety. May God help us to trust His promises.

Perhaps you can think of some other ways that God delivers us. I would love to hear about them.

The Famous British Preacher C.H. Spurgeon preached a sermon from this passage called “Robinson Crusoe’s Text” Download it