Hi friend, I am so excited to share my message from Passion 2022 with you! I pray this encourages you and speaks Truth into your life!
Starting out, I need to say that what I know more than anything is that the enemy does not want you to receive the message I’m about to share. I know the enemy doesn’t want you to be reminded of who you are and what you’re called to do. But the enemy cannot stop the move of God.
I want to take this time to remind you of who you are. I want to talk about identity, which should be a great conversation, right? As a culture, we love to talk about identity. We’re actually obsessed with it. We love talking about the enneagram, myers-briggs test, or any kind of online quiz we can take. We even like to talk about our childhood self and how we became who we are today. But it’s kind of strange, because even though we love talking about who we are, nobody actually likes to be hit with the question, “who are you?”
If you’ve ever been in a group setting like the first day of school, and the teacher says to go around the room and say a bit about yourself, it’s pretty awkward, right? All of a sudden, you’re hit with so much insecurity and awkwardness and you start questioning who you are, what you’ve ever done, and what to say in that moment that’s not too cocky but still cool. And that’s kind of a funny moment with silly insecurity and anxiety. But for some of us, the reality is there is true anxiety and insecurity around the thought of “who am I.” Because truthfully you might be sitting there right now thinking, “I have no clue who I am.” And not only is that the case, but you don’t know you’re purpose either. That’s a tough place to be, but you are not alone.
Then there are some of you who are just confused about who you are. You identify with all types of things but none of them are really fulfilling. A few weeks ago, I asked this question on Instagram: What do you identify yourself with? And I had thousands of answers. Some of which included looks, sororities, grades, gender, sexuality, race, disabilities. Then I had tons of people say, “I don’t know.” But then there are some of you who are confident to answer the question of “who am I?” Your answer is simple. “I am who You say I am.” But I want to follow up with this question: Has that actually changed who you are? Has who He says that you are actually changed the nature of who you are? Because we can say it all day long with confidence, but that doesn’t mean we’re confident people. You see, there was a time in my life when I could tell you all about who He says I am. Yet, I was still insecure and living in shame. So, what He said about me didn’t actually change me. Friend, you can know everything He says about you. But what ultimately matters is who He is to you. If He’s not on the throne of your life, then what He says about you isn’t going to change who you are.
So, as we dive into the topic of identity, I have another question for you. The answer to this question is going to tell us who we are and what we’re going to do with our lives. I want us to take a look at Matthew 16:13. But before I get there, I want to paint a backstory of the situation. Jesus is having a conversation with His disciples. It’s a huge conversation between Peter and Jesus in Caesarea, Philippi, a city known as the gates of hell. At the time, Caesarea was the central place for false worship. If you went to this city, you’d see temples lined up everywhere, all serving different gods. It’s a little strange that this is the place Jesus decided to have this conversation. But I know He had a purpose for it. So, as he’s surrounded by all these people worshipping other gods, he asks the question, “who am I?”
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
I want to emphasize how big of a moment this is. Here at the “gates of hell,” Jesus is telling Peter He was going to use him as a rock for His church. Notice that when Peter recognized who Jesus was, Jesus in return, told Peter who he was. Peter’s identity was not found in who he or anyone else thought he was. It was found in who Jesus said he was after first establishing that Jesus is God. That’s the most important question you can answer. Who is God? Because whoever is on the throne of your life is going to be the one telling you who you are. Therefore, if God is God to you, then that should change everything about who you are. Who we believe we are will directly impact us to do the things we do in life.
After Peter was given his identity, he then was given his mission to build the church. What we’re trying to do as a culture is allowing the world to tell us who we are, attempting to establish ourselves in the world, then trying to have purpose and live with intention for the Gospel of Jesus. But those two things contradict each other. Because who the world tells you that you are, and what God calls you to do are typically not going to go hand in hand. We find ourselves studying the enneagram to find out who we are more than studying the Word of God to find out who we are. We’re scrolling through social media trying to find answers to these massive questions about who we are instead of leaning into the voice of God.
Let me clarify, I’m a big fan of those things. I’m a 6 wing 7 on the enneagram and could tell you all there is to know about it. I’m an ENFP and I know my zodiac sign. But none of that could tell me more about who I am than the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb. See, what happens is when I say those are the things I identify with, it excuses me to not have to be who I am called to be. I could say, “I’m a 6 so I’m just going to be afraid because that’s who I am.” But the Word of God says that you’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control. So, we have to ask ourselves if we believe more about what the enneagram says about us or what God says about us.
I was at a friend’s wedding recently and everyone was sharing speeches at the rehearsal dinner. So, the mom of the groom stood up to speak and started her speech off with a very profound statement. She said, “Son, although nothing about giving you away feels natural, it is extremely biblical.” When I heard this, I couldn’t help but think about how true that is for so many areas in life. There are a lot of things in life that won’t come natural to us, but are extremely biblical. It’s not natural for me to turn the other cheek when someone slaps me across the face, but it’s biblical. It’s not natural for me to want to go the second mile with someone, but Jesus says that if a brother asks you to go one mile, then go another. It’s not natural for me to forgive someone who has hurt me, but the Word of God says to forgive seventy times seven. It’s not natural for us to even want to live sometimes because we wake up and feel like a failure. But it is biblical that your life has meaning and purpose.
Friend, there will be times in life when some things might legitimately feel natural, but even more legitimate than those feelings is the Truth of what God says that you are. Notice that I didn’t say your truth or my truth. I said THE Truth. One day I googled the verse John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus was listed as one of the many who said that the truth will set you free. But the reason it was so powerful when Jesus said it is because He is the Truth and He actually has the power to set you free. He is the way to freedom and will lead you to the Father. Culture will tell you that your truth will do the same thing, but that is a lie. So many of us want to be our own version of truth. Love, power, control. But what we have to consider is when we try to take on these God-like attributes, we’ve got to carry the weight of our sin. And we’re not able to do that. It’s the same thing Eve faced in the garden. She desired this apple, then the enemy tried to convince her that if she ate the apple, she would be like God. It’s that same temptation for us. We want to be like God. As soon as Eve took a bite of the apple, she realized that was all a lie.
My daughter, Honey, is the best little girl ever. I’m obsessed with her, if you haven’t already been able to tell from my social media. She is so fun and such a wiggle worm. So, with that personality, you can probably assume that she hates the car seat. If Honey could talk, she’d probably tell me that sitting in her car seat is not natural and it is her truth that she doesn’t need a car seat. But what I don’t do is agree with her and excuse her from the car seat. Instead, I strap her in as tightly as I can. Not because I’m trying to hold her back from who she truly is, but because I know what’s best for her life. Just because her truth may be different, it doesn’t mean that the effects of a car crash would be any different for her.
Just because we have a different truth doesn’t mean the effects of sin will be any different for us. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to destruction.” And we have to trust God enough to know that He created us with beautiful intention and design. There is something amazing about the fact that He made us all original and diverse. But we can’t go find out more about our originality and identity by who the world says we are. We have to find that in who God is.
There’s a part in The Lion King that represents this so well. Simba had been living his hakuna matata lifestyle after he’d run from all his worry and shame from his past life. Then one day, as he was going to wash his face in the water, he looked and saw his father’s reflection instead of his own. All of a sudden, he was reminded of who he was and what he was called to do. Then he realized that he had to go back to his homeland of Pride Rock where destruction had been taking place. As he shows up back home and lets out a huge roar, Scar, the enemy in the move, turns around and with fear in his eyes says, “Mufasa?” He recognized Simba’s father’s voice in him.
Friend, when you get a good look at who God is and you know who you are, the enemy will no longer try to intimidate you, because he’s intimidated by who God is in you. “It’s no longer I that live, but Christ who lives within me.” (Galatians 2:20)
It doesn’t matter if we try to figure out who we are. What really matters is us trying to figure out who God is. Knowing who God is has changed everything about me. There’s a message from Priscilla Shirer that I’ve likely listened to 1,000 times because I need a reminder of who God is every day of my life. It’s called “Who’s Your Daddy.” I want to declare the same message over you.
Priscilla says she looks in the mirror and asks, “Girl, who’s your daddy?” Then she reminds herself, “He’s the beginning and the end. He’s the keeper of creation and the creator of all. He’s the architect of the universe and the manager of all time. He always was, always is, always will be, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone. He was bruised, but brought healing. He was pierced but eased pain. He was persecuted but brought freedom. He is risen to bring power and He reigns to bring peace. He is light, He is love, He is longevity, and He is the Lord. He is goodness, power, faithfulness, and He is God. He is righteous, powerful, and pure. His ways are right and His will is eternal. His mind is unchanging and His mind is on us. He’s our Savior, our God, our peace, our Lord, our comfort, our joy, and He rules our life. He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the leader of all leaders, the ancient of days, the ruler of all rulers. His goal was a relationship with me. He’ll never leave you, never mislead you, never forsake you, never forget you, never overlook you, and never cancel your appointment in His appointment book. When you fall, He will lift you up. When you fail, He will forgive you. When you are weak, He is strong. When you are afraid, He is your courage. When you are broken, He will mend you. When you are blind, He will lead you. When you are hungry, He will feed you. When you face trials, He is with you. When I face persecution, He shields me. When I face problems, He will comfort me. When I face loss, He will provide for me. When we face death, He will carry us all home to meet Him. He is everything to everyone every time everywhere and in every way. He is your God and that is who you belong to.”
If you believe that is who your God is, you will not be confused by who you are because He’s not confused by who He is. And He is not confused on the purpose of your life. Friend, you must know that the gates of hell shall not prevail past His Kingdom. The God in you can do more than you could ever think of, ask for, dream, or imagine.