Dave spoke on Sunday evening on the subject ‘Who Am I?’ This is a question only humans ask; no cat or dog or turtle or fish or squirrel or bird or dolphin or chimpanzee ever lost one night’s sleep pondering this question! 1 Peter 2:9-10 gives us insight into the question of identity and purpose, questions which are so crucial to human life.
Peter, writing to Christians, says that we are a chosen people. Our identity is not based on our ethnicity or beliefs as such; it is based on the fact that God has chosen us. We are a people who have received mercy. We can’t really use ‘mercy‘ as a verb, so some translations say we are ‘pitied.’ This implies that God saw our sin and need and had compassion and mercy on us. His love and grace reached out to us when we had nothing going for us, so to speak. Our identity fundamentally comes not from what we do, but from what God has done.
We are God’s possession, His very own people. He has chosen us to belong to Him, to spend eternity with Him. This gives us purpose in life. We are set apart for God, called to be a ‘holy nation.’ We exist for God, and since He is holy, He is able to make us holy too. Moreover, our purpose is to be a ‘royal priesthood.’ That means we have direct access to God and are called to serve Him all the time. Our identity and purpose are given to us by God. They are not human inventions, but are the direct gift of God.
This leads us to ponder on the question ‘What am I here for?’ Peter defines that purpose as “that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” We cannot ever really understand ourselves and our identity and purpose apart from God: Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves, but only in terms of who are in God. God has made us who we are so that we can make Him known to others. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us.
How do we do this? We can do this in so many ways:
We can do it in church services with preaching and singing and praying and reading.
We can do it in our small groups as we tell each other what God has been for us, or what we need Him to be for us.
We can do it at work as we tell people what we love about God and why we think He is great.
And we can do it in a thousand different ways of love that suit our situation and personality.