If you had to describe who you are, where would you start?
Would you start with where you were born, your family, your career, the football team you support? What would be at the top of the list?
Certainly at parties, or when we are introduced to new people, we tend to follow the Cilla Black line from Blind Date: “Hello, number one. Tell me your name and where you come from!” But is that the most important thing?
Well, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury, no, it isn’t. He said that he finds who he is in Jesus Christ. He doesn’t find his identity in his job, and neither is his identity bound up in who his parents were – which is just as well with the revelations that hit the headlines a few weeks ago.
And he’s not alone in thinking like that. In the Bible the Apostle Paul said the same thing. As a rising star in Judaism, he’d been destined for great things and was given the job of crushing the new Christian church – something he did with relish! If Paul had introduced himself to you then he would have spoken about his parents, his heritage, his education, his religious reputation and his moral brilliance. But after he became a Christian and turned his back on all these things he said this:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ then be found in him.”
That’s pretty strong stuff isn’t it! After all, we are perhaps rightly proud of our families, our career achievements and our academic qualifications – particularly if we had to work really hard to get them. But as wonderful as those things are they are also as fragile as a sandcastle. In the blink of an eye our reputations can be ruined, our riches can be lost, our achievements can be surpassed and our families can be destroyed. But God’s reputation is guaranteed, his riches are eternal, his achievements no one can outdo, and his family and his kingdom last forever.
And when we become a Christian and are adopted into God’s family all of the riches of Christ become ours. We share in his glory, we will receive the same inheritance and we share in the spoils of Jesus’ victory on the cross. And no circumstances in life or death can rob us of that.
So who am I? I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather and a football fan. But most of all fundamentally I’m a Christian: loved by God and saved by faith in Jesus Christ. And that’s an offer open to all who come to him.