KNOWING ONE’S IDENTITY: A KEY REQUIREMENT FOR LIVING A SUCCESSFUL LIFE (PART THREE): WHO AM I?

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In this third article on the necessity of knowing one’s true identity in light of who God is and his plan for one’s life, attention is now turned from, “Who is God?” to “Who am I?”. This question is one of the fundamental questions of life. The right answer to it affects everything one thinks and does. It determines how one looks at God, others and the world about and consequently affects one’s attitude profoundly. Let us explore it in some details below. The second article on “Who is Jesus?”noted the following points:

On one occasion Jesus asked his disciples regarding his identity. The concerned Gospel passage is Mark 8:27-38. He asked: “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “John the Baptist; others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets”. Then he pointedly asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ”.

This question of Jesus resonates with all generations, “Who do you say that Jesus Christ is?” Personally recognizing and appropriating who Jesus is for us determines the meaning and purpose of this life and the Life to come. A lot of us know about Jesus and God but by far the more important questions is, “Do you know God for yourself?”

Knowing God for ourselves means we know him sufficiently to trust him for all circumstances and situations of our lives. And to obey him in all we think and do. Many of us are good at playing religion and God. We are good at observing and conforming to the outward forms of the religion: attending Church services and activities, praying and fasting and those things that make us appear holy but in reality are ravenous wolves. Paul is right when he says that some will in the latter days hold to the outward form of the faith but reject its real power (2 Tim. 3:5). There are too many believers in name and form only whose deeds manifest the contrary.

The fact of the matter is that we cannot adequately understand who we are unless we grasp something of who God Almighty is. We were created in the likeness and image of God and therefore our understanding of man is somehow linked to our understanding of God. God is Spirit. Man/woman also possesses a spirit or soul. As a physical being he/she needs material things to survive and be healthy. Basically he/she needs food, clothing and shelter. But he/she also needs something else to attend to his/her mental and spiritual needs that no amount of material things can satisfy. St. Augustine puts it beautifully: “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Now come the questions, “Who am I?” and “Who are you?” The Bible says every human being is a person made in the likeness and image of God. This means I am a creature and you are a creature. Therefore you and I do not know everything. We have limited power, knowledge and control over a lot of things. We each have dignity from God but are limited and have confines and boundaries within which to operate.

I am special and so is everybody else. I have a loving Creator who knows all about me and yet loves and cares for me in spite of my weaknesses. With him all things are possible for me. He wants me to live better and do better but also for me to help others live better and do better. I must not be arrogant and rude to others though I may need to correct them when they go wrong as much as they may need to correct me when I go wrong.

Who am I? What is my relationship with my God and Sustainer? What is my purpose on earth? What should be my particular contributions to life? These questions should concern any normal person and should be answered on a serious, honest, personal level. Each person needs a reliable and dynamic relationship with his/her God. This relationship has to be intimate, progressive and dependable. Life is too hard and full of uncertainties and surprises to be lived without a higher Power to enable and give meaning to all of the intricacies of living.

The purpose of each life on earth is therefore to glorify (real worship) God and to enjoy God and his gifts around. This in short means to use one’s talents, abilities, opportunities and challenges to influence life positively. The Bible and religious experts believe that each person has a unique place and a contribution to make to life. Human being is so special to God that each one has a peculiar role and contribution to make that no one else can. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to discover that unique gift (s) or place in life and use every opportunity to develop, harness and use it wisely for God’s glory, one’s good and the good of the family, community and wider society. This special role and place in life is called vocation (what one was created to fulfill) out of which one’s career or profession is derived. One’s vocation should center on that which one has a passion for and enjoys doing (that is honorable and uplifts all). Of course it still has to be developed and mastered. It is absolutely vital that one knows who he/she is and ought to contribute to the greater good of all.

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