November 6, 2023

Who Do You Say I Am?

Light unshared is darkness. To be light indeed, it must shine out. It is of the very essence of light, that it is for others. 

— George MacDonald

In recent weeks, a singular question has repeatedly entered my consciousness. “Who do you say I am?” Of course, this is the same question Jesus asks Peter in Matthew 16:15 (NIV), so I know the “correct” answer. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” But I don’t think God is checking to see if I know what the Bible says. This is a heart-check question. Right now, in my own life, who do I say God is? How am I relating to him?

I suppose I could answer that he is my comforter, my source of peace. I could also say he is my protector and friend or my healer and redeemer. None of these answers would be wrong. But I was surprised when the first answer that came to mind was the word “Elohim.” In the Bible, this is the very first word used for God in Genesis 1:1. Knowing this, I turned to the beginning and focused on these words from the creation story.

In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit if God (Elohim) was hovering over the waters.

And God (Elohim) said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” God (Elohim) saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4)

God is the creator and very source of all light. He is my creator and my source of light. He alone can separate light from darkness. He reminds me in Matthew 5 that I am a bearer of this light. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (v. 14, 16)

As I reflected on this, it seemed that God had flipped the question around. He was now asking me, “Who do I say you are?” Again, there are many possible answers. I am his child, one he has known since before time began. I am accepted and redeemed. I am loved. But I was also reminded that I was made to carry his light into a broken world, not hide behind my own shame or insecurities. If Elohim is my creator, and I am made in his image, I have no reason to hide. I was made to shine, bringing light into darkness.

I can think of many times in my life when I wasn’t sure of my identity, when I questioned my purpose or didn’t know myself as “beloved.” God has spoken the truth of my identity into my heart repeatedly throughout my life, but even so, I still have moments when feelings of rejection or unworthiness creep in.

Recently, I had to stop and ask God to speak to my heart after a medical appointment left me feeling unseen and unheard. I’ve also had to be intentional about turning to God when I receive those inevitable rejection letters for articles I submit for publication. No rejection letter is a rejection of me, but it can sure feel like it after I’ve spent days pouring my heart upon a page.

I’m grateful that God has shown me his faithfulness time and time again. I don’t need to be afraid of disappointing him when my own disappointments make me question my path or purpose. His light shines through me, even when I’m surrounded by darkness.

These two questions—“Who do you say I am?” and “Who do I say you are?”—are foundational. Our answers inform our sense of identity, helping us to truly live as who he created us to be, fulfilling a divine purpose. When the world tries to tell us we aren’t enough or our own thoughts scream words like “failure” and “worthless,” honest answers to these questions direct us back to our true identity as children of light.

Who do you say God is? Who does he say you are?

Take some time to reflect. How would you answer? What do your answers say about your relationship to him? Do your answers encourage you to let your light shine in the darkness? How might God be asking you to uniquely carry the light of his love into the world? As a child of light, simply being who God created you to be is enough to change the world.

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