He answered them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship Yahweh, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.”Jonah 1:9 (HCSB)
There are few questions more important than that of identity: who are you? What defines you in your own eyes? What defines you in the eyes of others? As humans, we naturally make assumptions and decisions based on stereotypes and how we identify other people: from football hooliganism to the rich and wealthy looking out for each other; from unions of workers to hobby groups.
Who are you? For many people, this question is answered by a combination of things including nationality, education, job, family, friends, beliefs, and desires. Saint Augustine was famous for laying bare the basic truth that, often, whatever we love most defines who we are; whatever we love most moulds our identity. If you love money more than anything else, you will become greedy, stingy, cold—your job will likely be a high-paying one which places you around people like yourself. If, above all else, you love to be affirmed and thought well of, then you will become shallow, fake, hollow—you will devote yourself to pleasing others only so they please you back.
What do you desire most? As Christians, our first desire, our highest wish, ought to be to behold the face of Jesus and be in his presence. God is to be our all-in-all. We should not allow ourselves to be defined by what we have done—which always leads to disappointment and guilt. We should not allow ourselves to be defined by what others think of us—which will always lead to a sense of failure and shame. We should allow only one thing to define us—who Jesus says we are. He says that when we believe in him we are blessed saints; we are appreciated and saved; we are reconciled and heard, gifted and forgiven, loved and adopted, rewarded and victorious. This truth leads to peace, security, safety, and confidence in all things through Christ who strengthens us.
When we ask ourselves “who am I?” or someone else asks us that question, we should answer like Jonah: “I’m a Christian—an adopted child of God. I worship Yahweh, Jesus, the God of the heavens who made all things.”