If someone asked you, "Who are you?" how would you answer? "I would give the person my name."

What if the person said, "I did not ask for your name. I asked who are you?"

"Then I would give the person some identification, like my driver's license."

What if the person said, "I did not ask you for identification. I asked who are you?"

"What do you want? An address? My educational background? My occupation? My family tree? What do you want to know?"

"I want to know who you are."

Let me approach this same question in another way. Have you ever asked yourself, "Who am I?" If you have, what was your answer?

  1. "David, you lost me. I do not understand what you mean by that question."
    1. Consider the same question from a different viewpoint.
      1. If a person is committing suicide, what is his or her answer to, "Who am I?"
      2. If a person decides to be a prostitute, what is his or her answer to, "Who am I?"
      3. If a person decides to commit a murder, what is his or her answer to, "Who am I?"
    2. Could you commit suicide or decide to be a prostitute or murderer?
      1. To the majority of us, any of those decisions are unthinkable.
      2. Most of us "cannot see" ourselves doing any one of those things.
      3. Why? "That's not me. I simply could not do one of those things."
      4. If that is not who you are, then who are you?
    3. Our answer to "who I am" determines many basic realities about who we actually are and how we actually live.
      1. "Who am I?" seems to be a very simple question.
      2. In truth it is one of the most complex questions that you will ever answer.

  2. The person's answer who understands the meaning of Jesus being the Christ and the person's answer who does not understand the meaning of Jesus being the Christ are radically different answers.
    1. "Why? Why would understanding the meaning of Jesus being the Christ change my basic answer to the question, 'Who am I?'"
      1. Jesus did not die to create another religion.
      2. Choosing to be a Christian is not a supermarket decision; it is not one religious choice of many religious choices.
      3. Christianity is a specific way to understand the world, to understand life, to understand self, and to understand death.
    2. When I understand that Jesus is the Christ, I answer the question, "Who am I?"
      1. Originally, we humans began in an ideal relationship with God (Genesis 1,2).
        1. We lived a complete, fulfilled existence that had no needs, no wants.
        2. There was no fear, no worry, no anxiety, no pain, no guilt, no shame, and no embarrassment; that life surpassed anything we can experience.
      2. We knew nothing about evil, but we were curious about evil (Genesis 3).
        1. Satan used temptation to peak our curiosity.
        2. To satisfy our curiosity, we defied the God who made and loved us.
        3. We learned about evil by choosing evil, and evil totally, completely, irreversibly changed us.
        4. It changed the way we saw ourselves; it changed the way we looked at life; it changed the way we lived life; it changed our natures, our dispositions, our attitudes, our emotions, and our behavior.
        5. Most devastating of all, it destroyed our relationship with God, and we were powerless to escape or reverse those destructive changes.
      3. With time, our knowledge of evil destroyed everything good in us and about us; we reached a point that we thought only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).
    3. As evil as we became, God refused to abandon us; He was determined to rescue us from our self-imposed tragedy.
      1. God created our opportunity to escape the consequences of evil by sending us the Christ.
      2. God was determined to send the Christ; He literally refused to fail.
      3. God refused to allow our evil and ignorance to stop His planned solution.
      4. God's plan was simple.
        1. Find one person who would trust Him so completely that this person lived life by trusting God.
        2. Make the descendants of this person a nation, hopefully a nation who knew how to trust God.
        3. Through this nation allow His Son to be born as a human in this world.
        4. Through His Son's ministry, death, and resurrection, make His Son the Christ.
        5. Through the Christ, God would reconcile people to Himself by forgiveness; and, through new life in the Christ, God would allow people to become His sons and daughters.
      5. In spite of every human failure imaginable, in spite of Satan's most powerful opposition, that is exactly what God did.
        1. The person who trusted God was Abraham.
        2. The nation that came from Abraham, the nation God worked through was Israel.
        3. His Son who came to this world was Jesus.
        4. In Jesus' sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection, God made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
    4. Only because God sent us the Christ:
      1. Can we be forgiven.
      2. Can we be made spiritually alive.
      3. Can we be reconciled to God.
      4. Can we live in peace with God and die in the secure promise of God.

  3. How does that answer the question, "Who am I?"
    1. First, the Christ teaches me that life is not about me; it is about God.
      1. Life is not about fun, or pleasure, or possessions, or physical existence.
      2. Too many Christians answer "who am I" by using the answer of people who are not Christians.
        1. They say, "The only reality is the right here right now; that is all there is."
        2. So the purpose of life is self-preservation in a dog eat dog world.
        3. Or the purpose of life is materialism; what you own determines your importance.
        4. Or the purpose to life is to have fun and pleasure because every tomorrow is uncertain.
        5. Or life has no purpose; everything is going to fall apart any way.
        6. Or the purpose of life is selfishness; all that really matters is me.
        7. The moment that you decide that life is only about the "right here right now" you answer the question, "Who am I?"
      3. When a person understands what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, he understands that life is about God.
        1. Life's origin is God.
        2. Life's destiny is God.
        3. The objective of evil in my life is to separate me from God.
        4. The Christ came to destroy evil's control over my life and to reconcile me to God.
        5. The moment that you decide that life is about God, you answer the question, "Who am I?"
    2. Second, Christ teaches me to let God's heart, attitude, and behavior define who I am.
      1. Because Jesus is the Christ, I can be God's son or daughter.
      2. Therefore God is the road map for my life.
      3. And Jesus is my guide through life.
      4. I can understand God because the Christ was divine and became human; Jesus shows me what God would be and do as a human.
      5. One clear example: Jesus said those who belong to God love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-45).
        1. There is much to be understood in that statement, and we don't have the time to explore the meaning of loving your enemies.
        2. What I want you to see is the reason that we are to love our enemies: "that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven."
        3. Why would I ever love an enemy? Because understanding what it means for Jesus to be the Christ permits God to define who I am.
    3. Third, understanding the meaning of Jesus being the Christ gives me a godly conscience.
      1. The world Jesus was born into was a world without a conscience.
        1. That world in general was too wicked to have a conscience.
        2. Israel used religious reasoning, pat answers, and religious logic to destroy Israel's conscience.
          1. The religious leaders were concerned about behavior control.
          2. Their religious teachings were not primarily concerned about what happened in people's heads and hearts; the primarily concern was what people did with their bodies.
        3. The perfect illustration is a statement Paul made, the Paul who had an exceptional Jewish religious education.
          1. In Acts 23:1 he said that as a Jew, before he was a Christian, he lived with a "good conscience;" that "good conscience" allowed him to encourage a Christian's execution and persecute Christians.
          2. After conversion, did Paul's behavior change? Absolutely! Could he do after conversion what he did before conversion? Absolutely not!
          3. Why? Understanding that Jesus' was the Christ gave Paul a godly conscience.
      2. I would affirm that our society is becoming a society without a conscience.
        1. I would affirm that often the church does not have a godly conscience; look at some of the ungodly ways the church treats people; look at the way the church justifies those acts.
        2. I would affirm that often a godly conscience is a non-factor or a weak factor when Christians make their decisions.
      3. Understanding the meaning of Jesus being the Christ gives birth to a godly conscience, and a godly conscience helps answer, "Who am I?"

[Song of reflection: #768, Jesus, Let Us Come to Know You]

We can make the primary foundation of our faith the organization, the structure, and the practices of the church without learning the meaning of Jesus being the Christ. We do that by learning a system that never connects with the Savior.

But if the primary foundation of our faith is understanding the meaning of Jesus being the Christ, we will seek to be the Christ's kingdom. When we understand the Savior, we will discover his kingdom.

We do not have a behavior crisis in the church. We have a faith crisis in the church. We have an identity crisis in the church. We founded our identity on the church, not on the Savior. Because too many do not understand what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, we do not know who we are.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 21 March 1999

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