THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
John 1:1-28 (NKJV)
John 1:21 And they asked him [John the Baptist], “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
John 2:11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
THOUGHTS FROM YOLANDA
We see identity as one of the substantial elements of our lives. It starts early. I remember as a young child one of my favorite things to do was pretend I was an archeologist. First, I would create my outfit out of a long shirt and a belt. I would look in the mirror and see a smart, fearless, talented archeologist. Out, I would go into my backyard to start my adventure. I had other identities too. Sometimes I was a strong, heroic girl who lived under water, or a fast daredevil on my bike. In those moments, I was transformed. I wasn’t focused on myself; I was focused on the adventure. My character and personality, my identity, shifted with my creativity. The imagination and exploration of childhood is fun. It seems though, as we grow up, our identity transforms from something exciting, creative, and much bigger than ourselves, into something much more permanent and self-focused.
As time passes, we somehow learn that we need to hold our identity fiercely close and resent any challenge to it; after all — it’s who we are. Webster defines identity as, “The distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” Identity is one thing we can hold up as our own, and our lives seem to focus on expressing that identity every chance we get. As we strive to “be ourselves,” we focus on ourselves. I don’t know if you have experienced this, but I have noticed this understanding of identity seems filled with emptiness, frustration, and confusion.
As I read this week’s Bible passages, I noticed something in John the Baptist’s life that challenges the way we see our identity. John’s identity didn’t seem to be about him. That sounds contradictory, but it’s true. John seemed to approach his identity more as a gift he was given to bring focus and light to Jesus’ identity. In John 1, we see John answering the priests and Levites, and it becomes clear John knows who he is and who he isn’t. He doesn’t deny who he is, but confesses, “I am not the Christ.” He doesn’t seem to struggle with emptiness or confusion because he is focused on bringing attention to Jesus. As we read on, we see how John’s life opens the way for Jesus to come on the scene and in John 2, Jesus manifests His glory and, “His disciples believe in Him.” Wow!
How would our lives change, and what might God do, if our identity was no longer about us, but about bringing light to Him?