Friday, January 16, 2015


You can hear it best when you stop. In the quietness of the night perhaps, or on the seashore. Maybe you hear it on the bus, or at a funeral. That whisper, that nagging question deep down.

Who am I?

I'd hazard a guess that everyone asks this question at different times in their life.

Who am I?

Our identity is important.

I'm hardly an international spy, but one time I managed to get a martial arts DVD from the video store on my friend's account without him being there OR his video card. I was on my way to his house and was trying to save time and afterwards I was pretty pleased with myself that I was able to pull off such an audacious move.

I was banking on the fact that a) I knew his address and b) I knew the films he'd recently rented (we were going through a phase where we were watching lots of martial arts movies). To be honest I think the store assistant was a little dubious but I got away with it, to my relief and pride! Hardly a bank heist (I sort of had my friend's permission to pretend to be him and I'd paid to rent the film!) but in my mind it was right up there with James Bond (or maybe Johnny English).
"Our identity is important"
There was a news story recently about a Canadian guy who'd bought round the world holiday tickets but had subsequently split up with his girlfriend. Unfortunately the tickets were linked to identity and could only be used by someone with the same name. Amazingly he found someone with the same name as his ex-girlfriend to travel with him and the story had a happy ending!

So what's your identity? How do you know what's the real you?

There are so many things out there that try to steal our identity in different ways. It's not just cyber criminals and organised gangs trying to hack your bank account. Our culture is always trying to project on to us what it thinks our identity should be, placing a high value on the type of smartphone you have, or car you drive, or clothes you wear, or places you shop. There's a huge pressure to conform, not to stand out, not to be who we really are.

So often we define our identity by the things that we do, by our work, but our actions don't define who we really are. As any good parent knows, when our children do things wrong it's important to let them know that their behaviour was naughty not that they are inherently bad ("that was a naughty thing to do" vs "you are a naughty boy").
"How do you know what's the real you?"
There's a quote I see flying around the internet "Be who you want to be not what others want to see". And while I don't think that our identity is entirely self-willed, so often we can accept other people's priorities and goals for our lives than those priorities and goals which truly enable us to embrace our identity - who we're made to be.

As Oscar Wilde quipped, "Be yourself, everyone else is taken", or as Shakespeare put it "to thine own self be true".

We're God's workmanship..
From a Christian perspective each of us is made uniquely by an infinitely creative God. We are each God's workmanship, as the book of Ephesians reminds us, his great artwork. And as great masterpieces have a signature, so we too carry the mark of our maker within us - his life-giving breath, his image.

Our purpose in life is rarely revealed to us all at once. Instead my experience is that it's more of a gentle unfolding. Our true identity is something that can take time to explore and find - but I do have confidence that we're each of us uniquely made and loved by God, and I take comfort in that.

I don't know what your big question is. I don't know who you've made to be and what you're made to do. I can't help you find your true identity, but if that's your big question, then I know the place you need to start.

The Alpha Course is all about having space to ask life's big questions. Check it out here and maybe think about finding a course near you..
"as great masterpieces have a signature, so we too carry the mark of our maker within us"


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