Sermon quotes on identity
Wer bin ich? Der oder jener? Bin ich denn heute dieser und morgen ein andrer?
Who am I? This one or that one? Am I then this one today and tomorrow another?
“Wer bin ich?”
The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus.
It’s been said that our identity is that which is identical about us in every situation. Identity. Identical. Yet that doesn’t help much because we are composite people, bundles of competing desires and identities. We want to be educated thinkers and we want to watch reality television. We want to be generous and we want our own way every time. We want to be in shape and we want to eat bacon! But if the basic conflicts in our natures are obvious, then so is our sense, our intuition, that beneath all that oscillation is a stable core of identity. Somewhere inside us is who we really are.
Stendhal (Henri Beyle)
Why am I me?
Le Rouge et le Noir
The exhausting manipulation and control it takes to protect an identity based on circumstances will crush our hearts and hide the best of who we are behind a wall of insecurity.
I am a human being, not a human doing.
Protestantism developed its sense of identity primarily in response to external threats and criticisms rather than as a result of shared beliefs. In one sense, the idea of “Protestantism” can be seen as the creation of its opponents rather than of its supporters.
It is a spiritual disaster for a man to rest content with his exterior identity, with his passport picture of himself. Is his life merely in his fingerprints?
I must register a certain impatience with the faddish equation, never suggested by me, of the term identity with the question, “Who am I?” This question nobody would ask himself except in a more or less transient morbid state, in a creative self-confrontation, or in an adolescent state sometimes combining both; wherefore on occasion I find myself asking a student who claims that he is in an “identity crisis” whether he is complaining or boasting. The pertinent question, if it can be put into the first person at all, would be, “What do I want to make of myself, and what do I have to work with?”
Our true identity is to love without fear and insecurity. Our higher potential finds us when we set our course in that direction. The power of love and compassion transforms insecurity.
My identity does not begin when I begin to understand myself. There is something previous to what I think about myself, and it is what God thinks of me.
To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
James F. Masterson, M.D.,
The false self plays its deceptive role, ostensibly protecting us but doing so in a way that is programmed to keep us fearful—of being abandoned, losing support, not being able to cope on our own, not being able to be alone.
Who am I? How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this.
We do not find our true self by seeking it. Rather, we find it by seeking God.
I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, “By the grace of God I am what I am.
I look at a person as an image bearer of a holy God and I am not in any way spooked by whatever worldly identity that happens to be attached to that image bearer.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…. Where we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the questions… we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks)
“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat. So people who don’t know what they’re doing, or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self.”
You’ve Got Mail
Anne Colby and William Damon
When an issue is less central to one’s identity it’s possible to feel, for example, “I really should do more to help those in need, but it’s just too hard’ or ‘I just can’t find the time.’ But when the issue lies at the very heart of who one is, it becomes unthinkable to turn away.
Unfortunately, the reality is that we tolerate being less than we are called to be. Pride is not the ultimate sin; forgetfulness of our origin and destiny is, in fact, the ultimate tragedy.
Our modern dogma is that of Batman: “It’s not who you are underneath . It’s what you do that defines you.
Ruth Haley Barton
Your desire for more of God than you have right now, your longing for love, your need for deeper levels of spiritual transformation than you have experienced so far is the truest thing about you. You might think that your woundedness or your sinfulness is the truest thing about you or that your giftedness or your personality type or your job title or your identity as husband or wife, mother or father, somehow defines you. But in reality, it is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are.
Taken from Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton Copyright (c) 2009 by Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
Christopher J. H. Wright
I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.
The open doors left me wanting more . . .
It’s another way to win a useless fight
You’ve been lying so long don’t know you’re faking.
“Perfect World,” After the Disco, Columbia Records, 2014.
If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
It is my conviction that our heavenly Father says the same to us every day: ‘My dear child, you must always remember who you are.
Arthur W. Pink
The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.
Thales of Miletus
The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.
John D. Zizioulas
The human being is defined through otherness. It is a being whose identity emerges only in relation to other beings, God, the animals and the rest of creation.
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.… To work out our identity in God.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self … We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.
This wasn’t the person he’d thought he was, or would have chosen to be if he’d been free to choose, but there was something comforting and liberating about being an actual definite someone, rather than a collection of contradictory potential someones.
Freedom (Picador, 2014)
St. Catherine of Siena
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.
Define yourself radically as beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.
God created [mankind] and therefore only God can reveal to us our identity and function. Without this biblical revelation, we are lost in a maze of confusion.
An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Zondervan Academic, 2011)
But here’s the truth: what we do is not the truest thing about us. Building our identity on the foundation of what we do creates an identity that can crack or break or tumble down at any moment.
If identity is fluid, then to remain still is to die—or worse, to become irrelevant—and so we never cease our frantic movement in the direction we hope, and pray, is forward.
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