Who Am I.jpg

Pastor Caleb McClarren

How would you finish this sentence: “I am ____________________.”

If you want to define a person, you need to define his or her attributes. According to Dictionary.com, an attribute is: “A quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.” 1 In other words, an attribute is some unchangeable feature that distinguishes you.

So, how did you fill in the blank? Did you fill it with hobbies you enjoy, groups you associate with or teams you support? Did you define yourself by naming your culture, ethnicity or favorite band? What would happen if all the things you thought identified you were taken away; what would you be left with? Would you have any sense of identity at all?

At this point you may be thinking: “Hold it right there! I grew up watching Disney and they said: “Be true to yourself and you will find your identity” (that isn’t an exact quote, but you get the idea). It may sound good in a Disney movie or Pixar cartoon, but have you ever tried to figure out just what that even means? How can you “be true to yourself” if you don’t know who you even are!? That’s crazy talk! In reality we are very aware that our identity must come from outside ourselves. But the real question is: “Where?”

What if you stepped outside Walt Disney phycology for a moment and discovered your identity wasn’t found INSIDE yourself, but really came from an OUTSIDE source? What if you found that you aren’t the center of your own universe, but rather a moon revolving around and reflecting one breathtaking, blazing, infinitely gigantic sun? What if your purpose was not to draw others toward you by your own gravitational pull, but rather it was to reflect the brilliant rays of the sun? What if you were part of one grand design and not your own designer? That would change everything! Suddenly you would have purpose, value and worth that was far greater than you could ever have had on your own.

“Then God said, ‘Let us (1st allusion to the Trinity) make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”2

God – the same one who spoke the planets into motion and caused time to begin reached down and lovingly made our first father Adam. Then, when Adam was taking a nap, God performed the first surgery and created Adam’s wife Eve.3 Both were uniquely made in the image of God and placed on earth to rule as His representatives. In other words: They were made by God, in the image of God, to reflect God. Like a mirror is made to reflect whatever it’s pointing at, Adam and Eve were made to look to God and reflect Him. It was beautiful. It was so beautiful that God stepped back after He had finished and said, “It’s very good.” Even though Adam and Eve broke that mirror when they sinned, they still bore the image of God.4 Every person since also carries the same image of God and has been created for the same grand purpose: made by God, in the image of God to reflect God...including you.

So, now you know the answer to the first half of your question: “Why did God make us.” You were made by God in the image of God to reflect God...But it brings up another question: “Who is God anyhow – and what is He like?”

Who is God? How would you finish this sentence: “God is _________________” ? Remember, a person is by defined by his or her attributes.

God uses several words to describe Himself to us. Here’s a few: One 5, Good6, Just7, Kind8, Compassionate9, Loving10, Merciful11, Holy12, Righteous13, Patient14, All-Knowing15, All-Powerful16, All-Present17, Eternal18, Comforter19, Avenger20, Jealous21, ... I could keep going, but you get the idea – God is a pretty big deal. He is so “big” that we use the word “infinite” to describe him.

As God’s image bearers, we exhibit many of these same attributes – not perfectly to be sure, but we exhibit them to a certain extent nonetheless. Others are attributes that only God can exhibit. For example, one pop quiz or a twenty-minute game of dodgeball will quickly demonstrate that, though image bearers of God, we are in fact not all knowing or all powerful.

The question usually follows goes like this: “If God is good, all-powerful and all-knowing...why did He create people He knew would sin? Why not make sin impossible or just not make people?” This question has been debated for thousands of years. The short answer is “I don’t know.” But I do know a few things that may be helpful as you think it over.

Isaiah 43:7 tells us God created people to glorify Himself. “Glory” means “to make much of” or “to magnify.” God made people so that He would be glorified. Like billions of little mirrors (or moons), we are each designed to reflect God in all His majesty. But, God is not JUST all-knowing and all-powerful; He is infinitely more! How would His other attributes be glorified? How could God demonstrate the depth of His love if there was no need for Him to make the greatest sacrifice? How could God demonstrate His mercy if there was no impending judgment from which to pardon the guilty? How could God demonstrate His grace if there were no undeserving recipients of it? As painful, dirty, ugly and jacked up as sin is, it somehow serves to glorify the greatness of our good, infinite God. Only an infinite God could take something as anti-Himself as sin and use it to serve His purposes.

Upon hearing this, many will accuse God of being cruel, or unjust. But that accusation fails to look at suffering of Christ on the cross and mistakenly assumes that we are objective critics of God’s work. First, the reason for sin and suffering – whatever the reason – cannot be the result of a deficiency in God’s love for us precisely because of the cross. In Christ, God demonstrated his love for in while we were still sinners Christ died in our place as our substitute.22 On the cross, Jesus endured the corruption of human sin and the just punishment of God for our sin so that God’s love might be extended to us. Additionally, Paul points out that by virtue of being God’s creations, we are not qualified to sit as God’s critics. He effectively argues this same point in Romans 9: because God is the Creator He has “creative license” over His creation. As Creator, He has the authority to do with His creation as He wishes – and that doesn’t make Him cruel, it actually makes Him cool. Just like you have rights to what you have made, so God has rights to what He has made.

It is of eternal importance that we’re careful to understand God as He actually is – not just who we’d like Him to be.

What is God doing? So now we’ve identified who we are and who God is...but have you ever wondered what God’s doing now? What does all this “Creator/creation/creative license/reflecting God stuff have to do with me...today? What is God doing in my mess and in my dysfunctional family?

Here’s where it gets good. Like the “human mirror” shattered by the hammer of sin in Genesis 3 was used to beautifully glorify God, the broken mirror you call your life is not a lost cause in the hands of an all powerful, all loving, merciful and creative God. Throughout the pages of the Bible we see God reach down and pick up shattered sinner after shattered sinner like broken shards of glass, grind them down, tenderly polish them and skillfully solder them together into beautiful stained glass windows. He creates beauty from ashes, joy from pain, and purpose from chaos – this is the God we serve.

How is God doing it? How is God actually taking the mess of my life and making this “stained glass” thing anyhow? He is working together with Himself.23 The Father calls you: a broken, disobedient person to become part of His family.24 Then Jesus pays your debt, forgives your sin and gives you a new identity in Him.25 All along the Holy Spirit convicts you of your broken condition and begins to work, changing you from the inside out.26 To be part of the “stained glass window” is to be: Called by God, forgiven in Christ and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It’s a whole new identity and a pretty big deal when you think about it.

Sometimes we don’t understand the reasons behind our circumstances – I will be the first to admit that. But it’s impossible to miss the glorious beauty of God’s redemptive creativity as you look at the way He restores broken people through the gospel.

So, as you continue to ask God “Why?” Don’t forget to step back and gaze in wonder at the small piece of the stained glass that you can see. Because the same God who does things that you and I don’t understand, in ways you and I can’t explain, makes things you and I could never dream of making that are so much more beautiful than you and I can ever imagine.

1 "Attribute." Dictionary.com. Accessed July 06, 2018. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/attribute?s=t.
2 Gen. 1:26-27.
3 Gen. 2
4 Gen. 3 & 9:6
5 Deut. 6:4
6 Ps. 136:1
7 2 Thess. 1:6
8 Ps. 145:17
9 Ex. 34:6-7
10 1 John 4:8
11 Ps. 145:8
12 1Peter 1:16
13 Ps. 33:5
14 2Peter 3:9
15 Ps. 147:5
16 Rev. 19:6
17 Ps. 139:7-12
18 1Tim. 1:17
19 2 Cor. 1:3-7
20 Nahum 1:2
21 Nahum 1:2
22 Rom. 5:8
23 Gen. 1:26
24 Eph. 1:3-6
25 Eph. 1:7-10&11
26 We call this gradual process “sanctification;” it is the process by which we are being set apart. John 16:8-9; Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 5:22-25