Who Am I?

The room was dimly lit. On one of the walls there were a number of posters, a picture of a pop musician, and another of a sportsman; all of which had served as windows into a longed-for reality. Along another wall there was a desk with a few school books on it, but the central feature of this desk was a small but powerful stereo system. Indeed, this was the room of a teenager which showed all the signs of ambition, turbulence, and, yes, dreaming.

An immense battle was raging in the young man’s heart, a battle of destiny, a moment of truth. “I never thought I would do something like that,” he muttered as he stared at the floor. His self-concept was being severely tested. So intense was the battle that he sought comfort from the posters on the walls which had helped him so many times before and diverted his mind from the harvest he was now reaping.

The air was filled with a sense of desperation. His mind was grasping for tokens that would stabilize his state of mind: academic, athletic, articulate were some of the tokens he grasped for, but they now seemed powerless to help him. A sickening cloud descended on him and started to squeeze out his sense of ambition. It kicked open the prized places of the heart and stole its treasure, and then it made for the most sacred chamber of all—hope. He had spoken to his mother in a way he promised himself he never would. This was the final straw that made him realize that he was not the person he wanted to be. He did not like himself and he wanted to change, but it seemed hopeless.

This experience is not unique to this one man. Many of us come to a crisis in our lives where we realize, “Hey, I am not the person that I want to be; I don’t like myself and I want to change,” but how often does it seem hopeless!

Depression is the single greatest curse afflicting our society today. The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Gro Harlem, said in an address, “… initial estimates suggest that about 450 million people alive today suffer from mental or neurological disorders. … Major depression is now the leading cause of disability globally.” This is an enormous problem! In 1998 and 1999 one million suicides were committed each year; 10–20 million attempts every year, or up to 38 attempts every minute. Suicide in the United States for males between the ages of 35 and 49 is the number three cause of death. So what on earth is going on? What is so depressing about life that millions of people are choosing to die rather than face another day?

In his book, The Mind Game, Phillip Day gives this very revealing statement: “In times gone by, caring family members gathered around and gave the depressed relative the assurance and attention to talk things through. … Today, with the fracturing of the family unit, the denigration of religion, and the separation of many families from each other with the hectic pace of 21st century life, psycho-analysis has simply taken over the task of counseling that used to be carried out by caring relatives or the neighborhood minister. I strongly believe that this has had a deleterious effect on our society.” Phillip Day lists three factors that play into this: the fracture of the family unit, the denigration of religion, and the separation of many families from one another in the hectic pace of 21st century life—the pivotal factor being the fracturing of the family unit.

David Van Biema, commenting on this topic, said; “A generation unlike any other has come of age, one in which millions have been marked by a profound and early sorrow. They are the children of divorce. They are just the front rank of a seemingly endless phalanx.” Jim Conway, in his book, Adult Children of Legal and Emotional Divorce, describes in vivid detail the pain and loss suffered by thousands who have suffered the effects of a fractured family either legally or emotionally. One of the key attributes he describes is the insecurity and the constant question of “Who am I?” and “Am I worth loving?” These questions drive to the very source of the human dilemma—a sense of significance. Does anyone really care about me? Am I worth anything? How did these questions come to embed themselves in the human psyche? To answer that question we need to go back to the very beginning.

Suddenly Eve found herself staring at the forbidden tree. “Why has God forbidden us to eat from this tree?” she wondered. The fruit looked so inviting. Suddenly she heard a voice coming from the tree. Satan, seeing his opportunity, tempts her through the medium of a serpent: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1.) Satan is both enticing Eve to debate and placing doubt in her mind about the literalness of God’s Word. Eve is no match for Satan, however. She accepts the challenge by repeating the words that God has spoken, but she is now deeply in trouble. Her own curiosity, combined with the opening challenge of Satan, left her unprepared for his following statement, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4.) This was a statement that caught Eve unaware, and Satan, seeing that he has immobilized his prey, now with devastating precision drives home his winning blow. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5.)

The concept that Satan introduced to Eve contained the seed of the curse that now plagues all of the children of Adam—the struggle for significance. A concept that sounds so liberating provides the VERY substance of the chains that enslave the human soul in misery and darkness. The question remains: Who am I?

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though He is not far from each one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Acts 17: 24–28. What an answer. We are the offspring, or children, of the God of the universe! Here is a God who is intimately involved with every one of our lives as a father to his children!

If we live in Him, it is simple logic that we cannot live without Him. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. This means that we can’t do anything physically, mentally, or spiritually without our heavenly Father. We are totally and utterly dependent upon Jesus for everything in the same way a newborn baby is upon its parents.

Consider the amazing organ—the heart. It works as a pump to circulate the blood through our bodies, without a break, decade upon decade. What is amazing about the heart is that the pulsing of the heart does not appear to be aided by anything outside itself. The muscle of the heart can contract and relax without any direct stimulus from the nervous system. It has what is called an intrinsic regulating system. As an anatomy textbook puts it, “The conduction system is composed of specialized muscle tissue that generates and distributes the electrical impulses which stimulate the cardiac muscle fibers to contract.” The Bible tells us that this energy comes directly from God. (Refer to Acts 17:28.) We are intimately connected to God, and totally dependent on Him every second of our lives. God is actively, knowingly, and lovingly supplying us the electrical charge that keeps our hearts beating. The King of kings keeps every one of the over six-and-a-half billion hearts in the world beating.

We hear so much about love; songs are written about it, websites devoted to it, magazines full of it. The world is looking for love. So why are there so many lonely people, why so many people falling out of love? Because they believe the lie that Satan told Eve so long ago that you have life in yourself, you don’t need any external force to depend on; you won’t die! You don’t need to look outside of yourself for any power. If you don’t understand that love, joy, peace, and all those other attributes come from the Spirit of God and reach out to the source, then you are just like a doll with batteries in the back: you can only perform while the batteries are charged; you are dependent on successes and excitement to charge the batteries. But sometimes life does not dish up success and excitement; what then? What if you don’t attain the goal you set for yourself or what others expect of you? In Satan’s kingdom you are considered a loser, but if your power comes from God, you are a winner whether you achieve or do not achieve, by the world’s standard, because it is not you who is in control of those things.

Consider Jesus when He was taken into custody and tried as a malefactor. To all outward appearances He looked like a loser; His friends had left Him, and it even appeared as if His Father had forsaken him; but He wasn’t a loser, He was a winner. It is a wonderful privilege to be a part of God’s kingdom.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6, 7. In these verses Jesus is explaining the principles of His kingdom. We have a formula for what makes people significant in that kingdom. What makes them count, what makes them worth something, what makes them valuable? In an earthly sense, sparrows have little value; you could buy five of them for two pennies, but Jesus makes a contrast and says, “Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” The contrast here is that because God remembers the sparrows, they are very valuable in God’s Kingdom. He goes further and compares how much God thinks about us as compared to sparrows: “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Can you imagine anyone being interested in you enough to monitor the number of hairs on your head? Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”

In God’s kingdom, worth and significance are gained from simply realizing that God lovingly thinks about us continually. We are definitely on His mind. He is giving us life, making our hearts beat, and actively pouring His love into our lives so that we can enjoy life, and He imparts to us rich gifts, talents, and abilities for our satisfaction, enjoyment, and service for others. Here is the secret of God’s kingdom, the secret of significance. It is the key that unlocks the enslaving kingdom of worthlessness and depression.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5.

If our value is determined by the loving thoughts that God has toward us, by the fact that our Father is the King of the universes, then this text tells us that we are priceless; it says that His plans and thoughts for us are greater than can be declared or numbered. How does it feel to be priceless? It can only be as good as your belief in the truth that God loves us so much regardless of how good or bad we are. Whenever you are tempted to doubt your worth, just look at the sparrows and believe that you are worth more than many sparrows.

There is nothing more critical than the sense of a close family to safeguard us from the ever-widening jaws of depression and worthlessness. A family can be a place where you are accepted for who you are, where you can be yourself and forgiven for your mistakes. Jesus opens for us a vital picture of the kingdom of God when He taught us how to pray. Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven …’ ” [Matthew 6:9.] Jesus did not say to pray “Dear God,” or “Your hallowed majesty,” or “Dear King” as our first reference point, but rather, “Our Father.” The Kingdom of God is a family.

“And lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [II Peter 1: 17.] These words are deeply significant, for right here God lays out the core nature of His kingdom. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” There are many ways that God could have introduced His Son, like: This is the Creator of the universe, listen to Him; or, This is your king, obey Him, but He said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” God proclaims the identity of His Son in the terms of a family rather than the terms of a king or ruler. “This is my Son” gives identity; “whom I love, and am well pleased” bespeaks of His value. In God’s kingdom, significance and worth are determined by our relationship to Him. This is in total contrast to Satan’s kingdom, where significance and worth are determined by your successful performance and achievements, as judged by yourself and others around you. In the Kingdom of God, He is our Father and we are His children, and that is our identity. You are known by Whom you belong to rather than what you do. The fact that God loves His children and pours out blessings upon them continually, is thinking about them constantly, and wants to be close to them gives them an incredible sense of value.

In God’s kingdom your identity and value are as enduring as the everlasting, never-changing God Himself. Regardless of success or failure, the relationship remains constant and your worth secure.

In Satan’s kingdom, your worth is about as secure as the stock market after Sept 11—extremely volatile, totally insecure and bound to crash! There are no guarantees that you will always succeed, neither is there a guarantee that the people around you will always be there for your encouragement, or applaud your efforts. To safeguard our individual identity and to save us from entering into a life of despair, discouragement, worthlessness and death, God has enshrined in the heart of His kingdom a law that will safeguard relationships. It deals with two types of relationships: The relationship between us and our heavenly Father, and the relationship between each of us as brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. This is why Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37–40. These two great commandments are designed to safeguard our Identity and Value as children of God. These two commandments are a summary of the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are vital in preventing you from losing your self-worth. Within the kingdom of God the Ten Commandments are understood in the context of relationships. If you sever those relationships, you are destroying your identity, and when you destroy your identity, death is yearning to embrace you. So sin (which the Bible defines as the breaking of the Law, I John 3:4) destroys our identity and value. When identity and value are gone, the soul longs for death. This is exactly the reason why depression and suicide are the greatest problems in society today. Sin is the robber of our identity and value as children of God.

By the standards of the world, success and failure are the deciding factors of a person’s worth. But the King of kings says something different. He says that we are His children, and as His children we are recipients of His unlimited love and power. It is our connection to Jesus, whose love has been proven to an unfathomable degree, which gives us our worth.

Adapted from the book, Identity Wars.

Pastor Adrian Ebens lives and ministers in Australia. He is dedicated to sharing his faith to help people understand their true value and relationship to a loving Father in Heaven. He can be contacted through his website: www.maranathamedia.com.