John 1:22-23 -Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” NKJV
A few weeks ago, my husband and I watched the movie, “Overcomer” about John Harrison, a high school basketball coach who lost that position and had to become coach to a one member cross-country team. One day, while visiting a church member in the hospital he stumbles on another patient who is blind and very ill. They strike up a tentative relationship and in the conversation the patient asks John, “Who are you?”
There was another John, centuries ago, whom we refer to as John the Baptist. One day while he was going around town, the Jews stopped him and asked him, “Who are you?” There must have been some in the crowd who wondered if he was the Messiah, for he answered that he was not the Christ. So they continued to ask him, even making suggestions as to who he could be, but he denied them all until finally he answered and said, “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord”’.
John was somewhat unique in that he knew exactly who he was and what his mission in the earth was, for they were one and the same. It’s interesting that he didn’t say he was John, for maybe they knew that already. They weren’t really asking him his name. They were asking him, how do you identify yourself? He understood that and answered accordingly, he was a preparer of the way. John didn’t seek his identity, it was given to him. He, however, had to accept his identity to truly be who God designed for him to be. He wasn’t interest in adding to his identity from his surroundings, his peers, or even his family. His identity was in God and what He said about him. And although John lived a short life and died an awful death (in my opinion), he will forever be remembered for preparing the way for the Lord, for fulfilling his purpose in his life.
In the movie, John Harrison didn’t know who he was. As a matter of fact his answers were: a coach, a husband, a father, and several other titles, until finally he said a Christian. The patient marveled that being a Christian was the last thing that John said about himself, adding that if his Christianity was important to him, why was it at the bottom of the list. As the movie progresses, they become friends and John learns more about how he wants to be identified. I am purposefully being vague in case you have not seen the movie and want to watch it. It was inspiring!
What do you say about who you are? What would your answer be? John, in the movie, didn’t have it wrong. He really was all of those people, a coach, a husband, a father. What was wrong about his answer was that his identity as a Christian was at the end of the list, almost an afterthought. Haven’t you been in a similar situation where someone asks you, who are you, and you list all the things you’ve done or are doing? We all can probably remember a time when we’ve done the same thing. My first answer changes with the situation I am in. If I’m on a job interview, I might start with who I am as a professional. If I am at a birthday party, I could start with who I am in relationship to the birthday person, and so forth and so on. So I get John Harrison. Although I would like to think that being a Christian would be much higher on my list!
But it is John the Baptist who gets high marks for knowing who he was and how to answer the question! His whole life was about his God-given purpose. His identity was his purpose, and his purpose was his identity. John reminds me of Jesus. Jesus lived the same way, with His identity being His purpose and His purpose being His identity. In my next blog, because we are approaching the time when we celebrate His death, burial, and resurrection, I want to spend some time talking about how Jesus answered this question.
I was talking with my niece about some things and she kept saying, “I get it!” Well, in her words I would like to say that if you have difficulty answering this question honestly about how you identify yourself, I get it! However, if you never open your mouth and tell people who you are or what your purpose in life is outside of your church, the world should never be left wondering if you are a believer or not! If they ask, you should not be sheepish in your response, but bold! If you are not walking what you are talking or being taught, that may be offsetting, but just repent for not letting your light shine, and begin to. Just like John did in the movie. It’s never too late to find out who you are and it’s never too late to start living like it! What will you say about yourself? Better yet, what do you say? Wonderful Jesus!
Note: I was just told about an amazing source that I thought you might like: Bible Project on YouTube. A talented artist draws a summary of the Word while sharing the summary. I’ve already viewed the two for Genesis! I wanted to sit and watch them all! But I decided to watch before I read the section to gain insight. Everyone should know about the Bible Project. Wonderful Jesus!