Who am I?
How does God view me?
Now, when it comes to thinking about identity, I think it is good to actually begin by flipping these questions around the other way:
How do I view God?
Who is God?
Then to also ask
Is it possible to know?
In November we begin a series from the first chapter of John looking at different questions that touch on identity – both in relation to God and to ourselves. We start with a couple of weeks thinking about Jesus. In just the first four verses alone of John Chapter 1 there are quite big claims about Jesus Christ. These include that he is God (John 1:1-2) and that ‘all things were made through him.’ (John 1:3) That is quite a statement about Christ’s identity.
Among other books I am reading right now, is a collection of writings by Stephen Hawking (of ‘A Brief History of Time’ fame or the ‘A Theory of Everything’ movie). At one stage he asks if it is possible that there is a God who can be known personally: ‘when you look at the vast size of the universe, and how insignificant and accidental human life is in it, that seems most implausible’. Of course other scientists would disagree. For example, Dr Francis Collins, who headed up the Human Genome Project that mapped human DNA, is a Christian.
The thought that all things were made through Christ and that He is God is not only a challenge into people’s lives now. It would also have been difficult for some of those hearing John’s words read to them in the 1st century AD. For many who were Jewish, the idea that this carpenter turned prophet/healer was actually the Messiah-and even God in the flesh-seemed crazy, let alone blasphemous. For many non-Jews the idea that this itinerant preacher from a backwater province was the way to know God, would also have sounded ridiculous. Especially when the plethora of the gods in wider Graeco-Roman thinking is taken into account.
In John 1, we can read of Jesus, ‘In him was life’ (John 1:4), ‘the true Light’ (John 1:9), ‘Word become flesh’ (John 1:14), ‘grace and truth’ (John 1:17), the one who of ‘God the One and Only… has made him known’ (John 1:18). These are all huge claims for one person’s life. It’s either true or complete nonsense. How do you view Jesus Christ? Even if we respond in saying we believe all these things about Jesus written in John 1, does who He is (His identity) impact into a sense of our own identity and how we view and live life? What are some of the implications of these things about Jesus being true?
Later on in the series, we’ll look at other questions about our own identity in the light of who Jesus is. These questions will all come from John, Chapter 1:
- Who are you? (John 1:21)
- What do you want? (John 1:38)
- How do you know me? (John 1:48)