Who Am I Anyway?

by John Stonestreet on September 2, 2009; last featured August 12, 2012
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Throughout our culture there seems to be an identity crisis. People don't know who they are.

A few years ago on an international flight, I found myself in deep conversation with a woman who was on her way to a New Age self-help conference. “You have all the truth you need inside of you,” she told me. “You are god.”

Months earlier, a high schooler told me about his abusive father. “I’m sorry,” I said. “You don’t deserve that.” The young man looked back at me with hollow eyes and said, “My dad says that I deserve it. He thinks I’m worthless.”

Recently, a student leader at a large Christian school admitted to me that he struggled with same-sex attraction. “I used to think it was just a phase,” he said. “But I have come to realize it’s who I am.”

Throughout our culture, there seems to be an identity crisis. People do not know who they are. Daily, we are bombarded with lies. “You are what you look like.” “You are what you buy.” “You’re just an animal with a conscience.” “You are whatever you choose to be.” “You are nothing.” No wonder people are confused.

What’s behind this struggle of identity? It comes down to worldview. Because we are made in the image of God, God is the fixed reference point on which our design, purpose, and value are established. If we want to know who we are, we must start by looking up (at Him), not around (at others) or within (at ourselves).

For those who reject or forget God, like atheists, humans are just here. What makes humans valuable? We look around for the best, the brightest, or the coolest. Of course, those who are weak, disabled, or otherwise misfit are left out. History, as well as the daily news, tells of the horrible consequences of this way of thinking.

Pantheists, on the other hand, say that god is an abstract principle in all of us. Therefore we need only look within for our value. Of course, some find in themselves a desire to help others, while others find in themselves a desire to hurt others. If everyone is god, whose view is right?

Without exception, cultures that fail to recognize God inevitably dehumanize people. The biblical worldview, in contrast, teaches that we are brilliantly created by God and designed for His noble purpose. Though sinful, we can be reconciled to God in Christ and come to a proper understanding of ourselves.

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