“Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2

As a young man I struggled with the question of who I am, believing that once that question was answered I would know what to do with the rest of life. Now many years have passed and tempered the assumption that the question itself is actually important.

The problem with preoccupation with such a question is that it makes the faulty assumption that the self may be known in isolation, apart from others. But that is exactly wrong, it seems to me. The person, the self, is largely constituted and defined by relationships and not by self-examination or endless hours of navel gazing. The only true knowledge we have of ourselves comes through life as it is lived and shaped in relation to others, for good or for ill.

By almost any measure, putting aside the current surreal atmosphere created by the corona virus, happiness is elusive for most people. Part of the reason for this is because happiness is pursued (however defined) as a pursuit of the individual, the self. The quest for self-realization, personal fulfillment or completed happiness may be nothing more than euphemisms for the quest of the idolatrous self, who, in the end, does not genuinely need other people but only uses other people as vehicles toward self-fulfillment. But, like identity itself, genuine happiness always emerges in the framework of genuine relationships.

Christian faith has taught me something about this question of identity; the less I focus on it, the better. Whatever or whoever else I am, my identity is inextricably bound up with Jesus Christ. If you lose your life, you will find it, or, more to the point, it will find you.

Christ Jesus has no other agenda in His relationship with you other than to be there for you. He is not seeking Himself through you, as most of us tend to do with others in one way or another. He has made us His own in baptism, brought us into a defining relationship that is utterly devoid of any self interest. He is determined to remain in relation with us and for us, until such a time that we put this old, transitory life away and receive our new one in Him.

Therefore, with the writer 1 John we can say that we are not yet what we shall be, but we can be OK with that. We do not need to be in a panic to realize ourselves in this life, as if that were even possible. Christ Jesus has brought you into relationship with Himself. And since he is your God, and your dearest friend, he will make of you what His good, gracious and perfect will desire for you.

Then, you will understand even as you have been fully understood.

May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus or Lord.”

Published by Pastor Mark Anderson

Lutheran pastor, husband, dad, archaeology nut, serious blues guitarist and aspiring luthier.

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