KNOWING ONE’S IDENTITY: A KEY REQUIREMENT FOR LIVING A SUCCESSFUL LIFE (PART TWO): WHO IS JESUS?

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The focus of this second article on the necessity of knowing one’s true identity in light of who God is and his plan for one’s life, is a question, namely, “Who is God? Is the question of God still relevant to modern life with all its scientific and technological advancement? Why is it important to pay attention to and respond to this question? Let us explore in brief in blow. The introductory article on definitions and context of series made the following observations:

What then is the meaning of the word identity? The word identity may be defined as that which makes a person or thing or place different from others. The following detailed definitions and concept of identity are given by the Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster dictionaries: “The fact of who or what a person or thing is; the characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is”. Identity deals with determining who or what a holder, owner or wearer is by signature, photograph, card, number, check or parade (Oxford Dictionaries). Identity is “Who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines identity simply as “the distinguishing character or personality of a person.”

Some of the synonyms for identity are: individuality, uniqueness, distinction, distinctiveness, differentness, originality, self, self-hood, ego, peculiarity, singularity, recognition, naming, singling out, picking or pointing out. Identity is sometime discussed in relation to identity bracelet, identity card, identity papers, identity parade, identity crisis, identity fraud, identity matrix, identity check, and identity number.

By success or successful in this series’ context we mean having achieved or completed one’s goal of improving self, family, community and wider world. Success is not limited to having plenty of money, power and fame but making contributions to the welfare self and all of humanity and fulfilling God’s will of justice and fairness to all. We cannot realize our full potential, dreams and our purpose on earth without giving some thought to who we are. A lot of essential things about life, our world and our relation to it and eternity are tied to identity.

On one occasion Jesus asked his disciples and us 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 to attend to his/her mental and spiritual needs that no amount of material things can satisfy.

There are certain needs of man/woman that only God can meet. 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.” There is something in every person that cries for worship. If man/woman cannot worship God he/she will worship money, power, another person, sex, alcohol, knowledge and whatever else that gives him drive in life but worship must he/she! The next article will endeavor to show how one’s understanding of himself/herself and his/her purpose on earth is linked to knowing God.

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