Who am I? That’s a good question, right? It’s a question people have been struggling with since the beginning of time. But I get the sense that it’s one that’s particularly vexing today.
We have traditionally found our identities in all sorts of places, most often in family, work or culture.
Today, though, that's becoming less true. Our identities aren't as rooted in family, culture or work anymore because family, culture and work aren’t as rooted as they used to be.
Careers no longer last a lifetime. Families aren’t as stable. Home very rarely remains the town you grew up in. And abrupt and ever-accelerating cultural shifts leave us wary of tethering our identities too tightly to culture.
We can spend our whole lives trying to figure out who we are.
The world tries to identify us and appeal to us based on race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, education or faith—i.e. college-educated whites, working-class men, soccer moms, evangelical Christians, disaffected Southerners.
And we identify ourselves in certain ways, too. Publicly we might be proud to be identified as a faithful Baptist or a school teacher or a college graduate or a community leader.
Privately we might be less generous in our definitions. We tend to privately identify ourselves by our weaknesses or perceived shortcomings, using words like under-achiever, overweight, unattractive, addict, failure, weak, or unaccomplished. We can really beat ourselves up.
But the Bible identifies us differently.
As much as we struggle with fundamental questions of identity, it’s the first question the Bible answers in the Book of Genesis.
So who are you?
-You are God’s good creation (Genesis 1:31).
-You are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
-You have a particular place and purpose in the world (Genesis 1:28-29).
And Genesis doesn’t just teach us about our identity. It teaches us about God’s identity, too. It teaches us about our relationships with one another and with God. It teaches us about our individual freedom and the limits on it.
We’re starting a new series at HERITAGE during which we’ll explore a series of truths that God has revealed to us from the very beginning—truths about identity and relationships, faithfulness and forgiveness, community and reconciliation.
We start this Sunday by talking about creation. Sometimes we are warned against finding our identity in our work. In Genesis chapter 1, though, God’s identity is clearly tied to God’s work—what Genesis 1 calls “the work of creating.”
The first way God is revealed to us is as Creator. That means that because you are God’s creation, God’s identity is wrapped up in and revealed in you.
I think that’s where our identities lie, too—in what we create.
So what are you creating?
Some people create fear and instability. Some people are great at creating negativity and suspicion. Some people intentionally appeal to the worst in us, manipulating our basest motivations. Some people create division and dissension with whisper and rumor and gossip.
We’ve all experienced people like that in our lives. We may be guilty of creating some of those things ourselves. That’s a particularly dangerous way to live when we begin to understand that we are what we create.
So what are you creating? Or what do you want to create? A better family? A stronger community? An more encouraging atmosphere? A more forgiving society? A more welcoming church? A more beautiful world? A stronger network to support the vulnerable?
And how will you create it? Creating isn’t imagining or hoping or studying or dreaming. In Genesis, for God, creating is working. Creating will be work for us, too.
So deliver the casserole, write the letter, call the mayor’s office, show up for the PTA meeting, volunteer at the food bank, lead at church, coach the little league team. Do the work of creating.
When God rested from God's work, God looked back on what God had done and saw that it was very good. One day, when we look back on what we’ve created, I pray we’ll see the same thing.
See you Sunday.