29 Jul Episode 6: Identity: How do I find myself?
July 29, 2020 | Susie Rock
Hey, today we’re going to start our third teaching in our series on identity. We’re going to answer the question, “How do I find myself?” In order to find myself, I must have to first feel like I am lost. To feel lost is a very vulnerable and scary place to be. I have a memory of being lost, and this is when I was 16 years old. I was a beginner driver- I don’t think I even had my full license yet- and I was taking my mom to a specialist appointment outside of our hometown. Now, you’ve got to realize that my mom had very severe cataracts, so she could barely see. I probably shouldn’t have been doing this on my own because she was supposed to be responsible for my driving but regardless, we did this. I got her to the destination on time, the appointment went well, but then we had to go home. Something happened on our way home- I do not know what- but we got very, very lost. As I recall, we were driving around for a few hours trying to find our way back. That was the day before we had cell phones or GPS and it was just really challenging. Lots of feeling of fear and frustration when you don’t know where you’re going. That’s kind of the same feeling that women feel if they do not know who they are. And it’s no wonder so many women are confused, because in our world we are told that we can be whoever we want to be. That means anything- anything- goes. We’re also told that we can choose the gender that we want to be. How confusing is that? So many women are wandering around feeling confused and yet knowing ourselves, knowing who we are, gives us great confidence.
Aristotle has said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” But the Bible says in Proverbs 9:10, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. We have to take note of these two very different world systems because it matters who we listen to. What we believe affects the way that we live. We know that women want to be known. We don’t want to just be known in a cookie cutter fashion; we want to be known as valuable and unique. We see a growing trend in women on this pursuit of finding themselves. There’s a notable desire in women not to just conform to the roles that have been placed on them or the expectations that they feel people are giving them. One woman on the Global Fund for Women declared, “Until a woman is recognized as more than just a mother, daughter and a sister, and is valued being an individual, I will continue working for our rights.” I have to admit that I am personally offended by this statement. Partly because being a mom and a sister and a daughter are a big part of my life. These relationships are super valuable to me. But I have to get over myself and realize that this statement offends God even more than it offends me. You see, this statement is a direct negative allegation against womanhood and it is stating that to be a mother, sister, or daughter is actually less valuable than being a career woman, an athlete, a businesswoman, or even a man. This statement is a direct attack against the femininity that God has given to us.
As Christians, we want to discover how we can creatively and freely live without becoming robots or fakes, or simply being people pleasers, because that’s not what God has designed for us. We want to learn how we can live freely within the boundaries that we have been designed in. To know our freedoms and our boundaries, we must first know God. To find ourselves, then, we have to find God. He is our Creator and our Saviour. He’s created us, He knows us intimately, and we’re accountable to live for Him. Psalm 139:13-16 says, For You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. God is our Creator, and His creativity has no limits. But He also has perfect order. This means that we need to remember that we need to live within certain boundaries, but also that we have the freedom to discover our gifts, our abilities, and our passions in so much as they represent the glory of God. We need to remember that we’re accountable to His boundaries but have freedom to reflect His creativity. Knowing God, then, helps us to know both our boundaries and our freedoms.
Knowing God tells us:
- We are image bearers. This is one of the boundaries that have been given to us. To be an image bearer is to be someone who reflects the image of God. He is relational and holy, and we are called to be that. An image bearer also reflects Him in His dominion over creation. Elizabeth Garn describes this well in a Gospel Coalition article by saying, “Having dominion is about bringing order- ordered hearts, ordered relationships, ordered businesses, ordered homes- out of chaos. We must know Him, be with Him, and rest in Him if we are going to reflect Him to the world.” This means that God doesn’t want us just to behave in a strict fashion, following His to-do list every day. He wants us to behold Him. Beholding Him helps us to creatively steward the different possessions, opportunities and gifts that we have been given. While at the same time having freedom to care for these things in a way that reflects God’s goodness and His order, we will know how to reflect Him because we have been beholding Him.
- We have failed as image bearers. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and every person since then was born in sin. That means we no longer have the ability to reflect His image. Rather than creating order, we actually destroy order. In our sin, we are in bondage and unable to reflect His beautiful glorious image. In other words, we are unable to be who we were designed to be. Our true self is hidden because of sin. Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- We are recreated image bearers. Every single one of us fails, but knowing God also tells us that through faith we can become recreated image bearers. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. As new creations, we once again have the capacity to reflect His image as relational beings, and having dominion over creation once again. So once again, we can bring order to our hearts, our relationships, our homes, and our work. Chaos is transformed back into order as we are transformed by Christ.
- We are female. This is a boundary that’s been given to us. Genesis 1:27 says, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them. God’s creation of women is specifically detailed in Genesis 2:18-25 (you can go over that on your own), but in this passage, God very articulately declares that it is not good for man to be alone. This tells us two things: first of all, aloneness is not a good thing, but secondly, male and female together bear the image of God. This means that one gender alone is not complete. Our genders are different and unique, and this is a good thing. Within our genders, we’ve been given specific rules and capacities. This statement absolutely goes outside the norm of what we are hearing in society. This might cause an outrage, but our genders do define our roles. God has given roles to men and to women. Some of them we fulfill together, and some of them we fulfill according to our beautiful and perfect design. So, who are we as females?
- We are life givers. Being fruitful and multiplying is a command that God has given to us, and He’s given it to both men and women. But how we do that looks different. First of all, physically speaking, as women, we have been created with the capacity to carry, nurture and nurse babies. This is incredible! This is not something that should make us feel like we are less than; it should not make us feel like objects or simply an incubator. We are so much more than that. Being able to bear children is an incredible blessing. Spiritually speaking, we are also to bear fruit and to multiply. Older women are to train up younger women as described in Titus 2:4, meaning that mature Christians should train up less mature Christians. We should be investing in those who do not know Christ as we know Him, who know less and who are still learning and growing in the faith. We want to be investing in the younger women. This is a call for all of us: we are life givers.
- We are Gospel displayers. In marriage, as found in Ephesians 5, marriage is described as being something that represents the glory of Christ, that represents the gospel. It puts the Gospel on display. This happens as the wife submits to and respects the leadership of her husband just as the church respects and follows the leadership of Christ. In the same way, men are called to love and lead their wives as Christ does the church. There is a huge responsibility on men to live as Christ. As we do this together- and we’ll do this imperfectly- but as we strive to do this, we are putting the gospel on display.
- We are the body of Christ, meaning that we need to be again thinking of ourselves more of living in community rather than just being individuals. Together, we fulfill the mission of God. Each of us has different roles, opportunities, and gifts as described beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12. This means that there should be no comparison, no need to be jealous or to look down on others. Rather, we are to build each other up because we are a community. We are the body of Christ together. We shouldn’t just be building ourselves up; we need to recognize that we are just one small part of the body of Christ, displaying the glory of Christ. Our gender, our physical abilities, our gifts, they differ. But we’re on mission together, and as we begin to embrace this concept more and more, there will be less need to compare ourselves or to feel inferior or superior because we will know that together we are living out our femininity as image bearers. I have a little side note here: thinking about community rather than individuals lessens the comparison that women need to have. Particularly between women who are married and those who are not. Women who are mothers and those who are not. Being a mother or a wife does not make us more female in the same way that not having a child or not being married does not make you less female, but at the same time, this doesn’t give us the opportunity to dismiss, disregard, or devalue these roles. God has created them and designed women to be that. But in an imperfect world, this does not always happen. Yet, we still uphold the boundaries and the beauty that God has designed.
To sum it all up, we find ourselves when we find God. Knowing God teaches us that we are image bearers specifically designed to live out our femininity within community by bringing order back to our hearts, our homes, our work, and our relationships. In a few weeks, we’ll take a look specifically at the question, “Married or Single: are you leading the life to which God has called you?” But for now, we can be confident in this truth: that we find ourselves when we find ourselves in Him.
1. What two things do we need to know about God, in order to find ourselves?
2. What four things do we learn about ourselves, by knowing God first?
3. Elizabeth Garn has said, “Having dominion is about bring order- ordered hearts, ordered relationships, ordered businesses, ordered homes-out of chaos. We must know him, be with him and rest in him if we are going to reflect him to the world”. Is there an area in your life, that is currently out of order? What do you need to do to bring it back to order?
4. Are you regularly beholding the Lord, so that you know how to reflect him? If not, what do you need to start doing, to provide for time to “know him, be with him and rest in him?”
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