One of our deepest and most powerful motivations in life is to discover ourselves—find out who we truly are in life. In our current culture, unlike many times of the past, we create our own identity, our own purpose, choose our own path in life, with little guidance or expectation in who we should be, what we should do, even what our gender role may be. Then we work our whole lives trying to build our education, hone our skills and talents, accomplish the right things—so we can be noticed and appreciated, so we can have approval and acceptance from others—for who we have decided we should be as a person. Our constant insecurities and how quickly we are offended when people don’t like or accept us, our constant desire to receive affirmation from others and on social media all show proof of this constant search and need for affirmation of who we think we are. But the reason we are so anxious, unhappy, full of drama, quick to fall into sin, and uncertain of ourselves—even when we seem to be successful and accepted by the world and ourselves—is because in all of our struggles to find ourselves in this world, most of us have entirely missed the most foundational Truth.
The goal—the real need—is not to first discover who you are in life; the goal and the need is to first understand who our awesome God is and then you will finally find who you truly are in Him. This changes everything when it becomes reality if you really embrace the fact that you died with Christ—not only to sin, but in your entire view of this world and especially self. Would that not completely metamorphous your perspective? But most of us are too entangled in the ways and thoughts of this world to ever grasp this precious and life-changing reality.
No one's identity and life changed more than the Apostle Paul's. In One of the most thorough and doctrinally packed letters in Scripture, the book of Romans, written by Paul, which is so well written, that until recent times this book was used in American Law Schools to teach the art of presenting an argument. (1) Paul uses the first 11 chapters of Romans to expand on our need for Salvation and how it was given to us through Christ. But near the end of Chapter 11 and to the end of the book of Romans, Paul shifts from the facts of God's work to how God's work should affect our lives and to how we should react to this awesome God. He does so with more emotion than he displays almost anywhere else in his writings as he breaks out in praise: Romans 11:33-36. We think we know who we are in Christ, but do we? These two verses alone tell us: "The riches of God's wisdom and knowledge are unknowable and untraceable!" Knowledge is education, facts, information, and skills. Wisdom is the soundness of how that knowledge is applied. Let's take just a moment to scratch the surface ff God's knowledge. One light year is equivalent to 6 trillion miles. To try and gain a perspective on a trillion (one trillion seconds ago, it was 29,666 yrs. BC. Six trillion miles is equivalent to one light year. Our known Universe is 93 billion light years across. And scientists know it has to be much bigger—that is simply all we can observe. This observable universe is hypothesized to be made up of 5% of ordinary, detectable matter, and 95% unseen, undetectable "dark matter and energy", meaning we can’t see it or understand it. The observable universe contains about 70 billion-trillion stars. We could fit one million earths in our sun. Some of the biggest of these 70 billion-trillion stars in the universe could fit over 5 billion suns within its diameter. There are innumerable numbers of mind-numbing, spectacular features and bodies within the known universe, and perfect, sustained, constant laws of science of which, we have only scratched the surface in discovery which hold it all together and cause it to continue; all holding such incalculable power and beauty—we can’t begin to grasp it with our minds. Yet God is there, His presence among all of it. He has named every star of this universe personally. And then, as we look inwardly with more and more technology to the microscopic world—and the world of DNA—we find data, language, design, and literal machinery beyond comprehension, which encodes, builds and sustains life miraculously. All of this from the mind, the creativity, the incomprehensible power of glory of our Creator. That is the God who wants to intimately be one with each of us. That is the God who created us to be the most complex, amazing single thing in all of His masterpiece. This unsearchable universe created as our home by Him in love and passionate imagination. Every piece of life—plant, tree, insect, animal, bird—uniquely crafted in wonder to work and live in unison and harmony. Every sound, scent, taste, sensation given to us as a gift of passion and creativity—the ground you walk upon, every sight, sound, and experience you have, the very air in your lungs—a gift of love all around for you, His beloved. He is literally the reason you exist. He literally sustains you this moment. He surrounds you with His grace and gifts right now: Colossians 1:15-17; Ephesians 2:10. We say that we know and recognize this, and yet we think, act and plan our lives as though this life is our own; as though we know what it is all about, with our own preconceived notions of our purpose and value: Isaiah 55:9.
Paul opens to the remainder of the book of Romans in Chapter 12 with how He sees that we should respond to our understanding of this awesome God: Romans 12:1-2. We should use our entire life—the life He gifted us with, the life He won back for us—to serve Him as an act of worship and love in response to His unsearchable strength and wisdom, which was given up in humility and complete passion for our sakes. We must be like our brother, Paul and realize with clarity that this God, with all of this unknowable and uncontainable knowledge, possesses so much more wisdom about His Creation, about how we were designed to live and of what it takes for us to be truly happy, about how and why we were designed to relate, love, and live best. Since He designed us from scratch, with purpose; since He designed the Laws of Science which sustain us; and since He sees all things from beginning to end, existing outside of our Laws of Space and Time which He Created—how can we question what He calls right, pure, good, sinful, hurtful, wrong? How can we think to rewrite His perfect plan of joy and intimacy? Where do we as His Creations, get the audacity to believe we know better than Him? How can we possibly truly know ourselves until we know who we are before this awesome God? And now—the most amazing part yet—this God in such magnitude of power, and knowledge, and wisdom also contains an equally unimaginable, overwhelming ability to love. This God is the God who stepped away from that kind of power and authority to become just like us and allow Himself to experience our frailty, our fear, pain, shame, and guilt. This God chose to love us even above Himself. In all of this splendor and power and give His very life—have His body, mind and soul tortured beyond imagination. This God was willing to put Himself through all of hell to be intimate, to be one with you. He was willing to give you all of His glory, His righteousness, total forgiveness, so He could share His love—His gift of life and creation—for all eternity, even when we ignorantly, selfishly turned on Him and ruined everything. This is the God who allowed Himself to become a small helpless babe who was mocked, hated, ridiculed, torn to pieces, hung naked in front of haters as He died alone; who continued to love deeply, perfectly, truly even as He allowed us to take His life for our own sakes. This is the God who is willing to destroy all of this amazing universe and start from scratch, start anew to give us a home with Him for eternity. This is our Jesus. This is our King: John 17:20-26. What kind of magnificent, loving God—who contains all of that unknowable power, knowledge and beauty—would sacrifice that much for one as insignificant as me? For one who turned from Him, seeing all He is and has done? You want to really know who you are? Start with this God, and realize you are in His Universe as part of His Creation, surrounded by the gifts of His artwork and love, with His purposes for your existence, deeply loved as His precious bride, bought and redeemed by His blood. That realization should help you find the true you, and with that epiphany shouldn't your desire to please be towards a different person? Shouldn’t rejection and criticism from others matter much less? Shouldn't your delusional feelings about how awesome you’ve made yourself out to be, or how terrible you’ve made yourself out to be come into true perspective? Shouldn't you be a little less worried about pleasing people, about offending others, when they don't agree with this amazing, loving, sacrificial God? Less worried about withholding the truth of His great power and love from them because you believe they may be happier in their ignorance, robbing them of the chance to know this God? Of knowing the true meaning of their lives and their very worth? Shouldn't you be a little less worried about simply being a peacemaker and a lukewarm pacifist when This God torturously died to protect His beloveds from the Hell which is overtaking His Creation? Shouldn't you be a little less passionate about the sins and lusts you tolerate (and even indulge in)—that He, in this incredible knowledge and wisdom gas told you will hurt your very soul, destroy your life, and keep His presence from you—shouldn't you realize that your purpose, your worth, and your future are far more wonderful than anything you could imagine or create for yourself? Shouldn't you—without reservation, without hesitation, without looking back in remorse—live your life in total obedience, trust, devotion and overwhelming passion for this God? Now that you have finally found out who you truly are in Him?
(1) Francis A. Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ: the Truth of Romans 1-8 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 8-9.
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