Our Identity Crisis
Can you answer the most basic of all questions, one that will set the pattern for your life, your beliefs, your actions, and your choices? Answer this one, simple question and your inner fighting and turmoil will be put to rest. Answer this tiny little question and the path set before you will come into focus. Can you answer it? Can you answer this single question: Who am I?
Today you hear all sorts of answers to this question. Whether it is identity found in sexual orientation, or identity in a cause, identity in a culture, or identity in a vocation, you search the ends of the earth to discover what makes you whole. You try a path, or maybe two, and assess if it is an accurate display of your inner person that hides inside. You craft your own personal identity, unique and special, created from the yearnings of your heart and soul. In turn, you piece together a person, a life, a support system that reflects the answer you give to this question: Who am I?
But your frantic search for identity commits a fatal flaw from the beginning. You assume that looking within will lead you to the truth of your identity. Yet when you turn in to your heart, soul, and mind for truth, questions still remain. Did you create the breath that moves past your lips? Just because you are able to hear quiet thoughts in your head, are you the author of the words that cradled you before you were ever born? You were wonderfully made by Another, and He already knows the answer to your question: Who am I?
The Creator of Heaven and Earth gives your answer to every question of identity. Moses asked such a question to God Almighty when presented with an impossible path. God told him that there was an insane road set before him and that he must stand up to the Pharaoh of Egypt for the sake of God’s people. “But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Ex. 3:11)
In a moment of doubt and uncertainty, this simple shepherd was overcome and recreated by the outside voice of his God. As he wandered after sheep, Moses thought he knew his true identity, yet God spoke to him who he really was.
Moses’ response is familiar to us. He looks deep inside at the imperfect confusion that plagues his life, beliefs, actions, and choices. He reflects in his heart and mind, doubting, wondering, constructing his identity. He asks himself the question: Who am I?
But the Creator of life and breath does not wait for Moses to identify with worthiness. The Almighty God does not need for Moses to search his own heart in order to understand who he really is. No, when Moses shrinks back to contemplate the confusion of his identity, God boldly gives Moses His word to answer this question. “Who am I?” Moses wonders. God says, “I am with you.”
When God answers Moses in Genesis, you may notice Bible translations render it in the future tense, “I will be with you,” as if it is simply a description of what God will do in a given situation. Someone asks who sent you? I will be with you. Scared in front of Pharaoh? I will be with you. But God speaks the imperfect force of the Hebrew verb “to be”, who is already with Moses. Rather than a focus on the time (past, present, future) when God may show up, this answer from God conveys a bigger continual reality for Moses which assures him of a greater identity. When God reveals His own name, “I AM” in the next couple of verses, this again is the imperfect form, a past present and future picture of who God is.
Here God reveals his name as a verb, an action word. He was known by his works, His actions. God the Creator, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God who did particular acts of salvation for his own people, This was the name of God. So it is no surprise that Moses encounters the name “I AM,” in the burning bush. This personal God is action forming and breathing life into the world His hands made. This Great and mighty God does things like part the seas and flood the earth. This God continually saves and protects His children whom He has chosen. This is the identity of God.
Now, God proclaims identity to Moses by an external Word. Revealing an incredible truth that was beyond what Moses could know by himself, God again spoke new life into existence. Moses wonders about his purpose, life and future, and God’s external Word of identity redefines everything Moses thought he understood about what was internally true. Moses is not a weak and unworthy shepherd, although his scarred heart tells him so. Moses is not a powerless misfit, although his experience shows this to be true. Moses asks, “Who am I?”, expecting to find the answer inside himself. Even though Moses internally searches, God captures him in the everlasting external identity of the Wonderful “I AM.” Instead, the One who said, “Let there be light, and it was so,” speaks identity to Moses. This is the truth of who Moses is.
God’s answer is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. The Creator of life and breath does not wait for you to identify with worthiness. The Almighty God does not need you to search your heart in order to understand who you really are. When you shrink back to contemplate confusion of your identity, God boldly gives you His Word to answer, “Who am I?” God says, “I am with you.”
"Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (Matt. 1:23).
God has not left us alone searching for our identity. He sent His only begotten Son, Immanuel, which literally means God with us. With us, walking on the earth. With us, crucified as a result of our sin. With us, risen to new life reconciled to the Father. With us, free from sin death and the devil. Directing our identity outside of ourselves, God tells us who we really are. This is not just a description of what our future might look like, He wraps us up in who He is, and was, and will be. Immanuel, God with us, right now. With us, drowned in a crucifixion and raised to new life. With us, present in body and blood for forgiveness and inclusion. With us, flooding our ears with undeserved mercy and comfort. This is the reality of your identity: God is with you.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20) I AM, ἐγὼ εἰμι, with you, Jesus says. The very same God who spoke His identity to Moses, speaks His identity to you. This is who you are. Perfect and holy by the final sacrifice Jesus paid for your sin. Free from death and the devil on account of the resurrection victory declared to be yours. A hidden saint on earth reconciled right now to your Father in Heaven. No matter how you feel. No matter where you’ve been. No matter how much you know about yourself or your God. This is the identity He has already declared for you. Who are you? Because of Jesus, God is with you right now.