The Wandering Pulpit – Who do you think you are?
Recently I had the privilege to spend two Sunday morning services specifically with the teenagers of the church. While the rest of the congregation met in the sanctuary we met in the gym with donuts and the slushy machine (the breakfast of champions)! This has become an annual practice here at Snyder Bible Church and I look forward to it every year, and not just for the snacks (though they don’t hurt anything… beside my health). However, this year we took a slightly different approach to our time together than years past. We began our time with a couple of scenarios which end in a question. Join me as we wander with this pulpit for a while and take a moment to answer them yourself before reading on. The scenarios were:
- You wake up from a Sunday afternoon nap to find your house is on fire. Everyone (yes, even including the cat) are safe outside. You have just enough time to grab one item you wish to save from all of your earthly possessions. What is the one thing you would rescue from the fire?
- You have been chosen by a research group to live on a tropical island for an entire year alone. Everything you will need to survive will be provided for you (water, food, shelter, etc.) but nothing else. At the conclusion of the year you will be awarded a large sum of money for your time on the island. You are allowed three personal items to bring with you for the year. What do you bring?
Did you answer the questions? What would you save from the fire? What would you take with you as you spend a year in solitude? I don’t know about you but my answers were quite different. In the first scenario I chose something that was sentimental or extremely important to me that could not be replaced. However, in the second scenario I wasn’t concerned about that but instead choose items that would help me to pass the time and document my stay there. In both scenarios I considered everything that I could and came up with what I thought had the most value. Yet, I came up with different answers for each scenario. My value of those items changed depending on the circumstances. Though my sentimental item is important to me, I don’t want to take it to some far off island because I know it would not benefit me there. So in the second scenario I deemed other items to be of greater value to me. This is a good illustration of how value changes based on time, location and circumstances. More on that in a minute.
It’s now time for another question, actually ten questions, but no need to worry it is the same question just asked ten times. Take a moment to answer this question, not once, but ten times and give a different answer every time. Ready? Okay, here is the question… “Who are you?”
How was that? Was it harder than you thought it might be? Take a moment now to consider each of your answers and ask why you are able to identify that way. I know I am asking for a lot this week as we wander together but trust me when I tell you that we are wandering to a good point. I don’t know what you wrote down but I know for me all of my responses were so because of how I relate to someone else. The first thing I wrote down was my name, I have this name because my parents gave it to me. I then wrote down, husband, a father, a son, a brother, a pastor, a Christian, an American, a teacher, a friend. I would not be a husband unless I had a wife. I would not be a father unless I had children. I would not be a pastor unless there was a church. I would not be an American unless there was a country. Get the picture? When it comes to identifying ourselves we do so based on who others are to us or how they perceive us. However, from this comes a great danger. You see, if we are not careful we can allow the world to determine our value, that is, how we perceive ourselves.
Throughout history mankind has continual placed value on human life. In both major and minor ways. The slave trade was centered around placing a value on a human life, sometimes these lives were highly valued at other times they were worth next to nothing. Before any battle a commander must decide if a certain objective is worth the cost in soldiers’ lives. In the workplace we receive a wage for our work. If someone possess greater skills, knowledge, abilities or willingness to do the job then usually they are seen as more valuable and are usually taken care of better than the average “grunt” at the bottom.
Going back to our first point we discovered through the scenarios of the house burning down and spending a year on a tropical island, for us as human beings value changes based on time, location and circumstances. Meaning that our value to other people could continually changing based on what I can contribute to them. Notice this really is a selfish system. But what else can we expect from the fallen sin nature of mankind? What we have to realize is that if our value is constantly changing than that means that our current value in the eyes of others does not actually truly define who we are! Someone might pay a million dollars for a piece of modern art, because to them and others like them it has value. As for me I would be happier with some “modern art” from my two-year-old daughter. See, value from mankind, is biased and circumstantial and therefore for me to determine my own value based on others is catastrophic. I need to instead discover my true value. A value which is lasting and not based on what others can get from me.
I do this by going back to the One who created me. God made me and you and as the Creator He is really the only one who has the ability to truly place a value on my life. Before you were asked to right down ten answer to the questions “Who are you?” Let us now take a minute to see how God answers that same question from His Word.
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made– Psalm 139:13-15 – You are not a mistake you are truly special.
- You are made in the image of God– Genesis 1:27 – You were made to have a relationship with the Creator.
- You are Christ’s Workmanship– Ephesians 2:10 – Christ desires to take what sin has ruined and make it new in order to use you for “good works”.
- You are known by God – Psalm 139:16-18 – God sees and knows everything that we have gone through, are facing now and will deal with in the future.
- You are sought after– Luke 19:10 – If you were the only person on earth Christ still would have come and nailed Himself to the cross.
- You are valuable– 1 Corinthians 7:23 – Christ has not just “sought us” but “bought us” at the price of His own perfect life. That is how precious we are to Him.
- You are a gift– Psalm 127:3 – Whether others view it or not you are a gift in this world.
- You are gifted – Romans 12:6-8 – God has given us gifts, talents and abilities and for the believer He has spiritual gifted us to further serve Him and bless those around us.
- You are called– 1 Peter 2:21 – God is not ignoring you. He has given you a calling in life to follow Him. He has a plan and purpose for you.
- You are loved – Romans 8:38-39 – We do not deserve this love. Nor can we earn this love. God’s love is ever present and is to serve as our strength to live and love as He desires us to.
God has answered this question of who we are many more times throughout Scripture, if we were to keep going. If you haven’t already, take some time to examine these verses and reflect upon how these truths should effect how we perceive ourselves and how we should live.