Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”
They said to him, “Just who are you anyway?”John 8:23-26 MSG
Sometimes I feel like that’s the question no one is asking me but everyone is thinking. Who do you think you are? Who are you anyway? It’s a little thing called Imposter Syndrome, and it rears its ugly head in my life from time to time.
Jesus didn’t have imposter syndrome—he knew exactly who he was and what God the Father sent him to do with his one magnificent life—but the Jews around him thought he was an imposter. To them, Jesus’ claims that he and the Father were one were completely outrageous. In their minds, those claims warranted his execution.
If even Jesus’ identity was questioned, of course I’m going to face my own doubts and insecurities about how God made me and what he has called me to do. Still today, after Jesus was raised from the dead, lots and lots of people think that he was just a good teacher, a prophet, but certainly not God.
Just who are you anyway?
When Jesus spoke to the Jews, he often used language like “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons,” and “I told you that you were missing God in all this.” He said they couldn’t see and couldn’t hear the truth of what was right in front of them.
Something wildly mysterious happens to the blind and the deaf when they understand that Jesus is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes and ears of their hearts, and suddenly, they start living on other terms, the other terms Jesus himself lived on, terms based on the greatest commandment, to love God and love others as well as you love yourself. They were terms Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. And they were rooted in the truth that God is good, that God made a good creation, that God made you, and that you bear the image and likeness of God.
When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, it is as if God has given us fresh vision, a brand spankin’ new set of glasses after decades of blurry sight. Suddenly, we can see even the mundane through the lens of Christ’s love and mercy. If Jesus is God then the call to us in the gospels is to believe the good news of his salvation, to believe that God really does love us so much that he sent his one and only Son to save the world through him.
The whole world—the mundane world and the world beyond our horizons.
If you’ve surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and find yourself actively trying to love yourself and love your neighbor and love your enemies, which, sheesh, feels impossible without Christ’s love anyway, and someone comes swooping in with accusatory glares and suspicious stares, asking, Just who do you think you are with all this extravagant love and audacious grace? Don’t you know anything? there’s really only one Person to point to for your defense. He faced all kinds of doubts, all kinds of accusations, all kinds of threats.
But he also defeated sin and death. In his love we stand confident and assured that we are children of the living God. Trust God’s voice in your life. Trust the God that formed you. Trust that who he formed you to be is good.
Points of Reflection
- What doubts, fears, or insecurities (Who do you think you are?) are getting in the way of the true you, the you that God made?
- When you encounter doubt and insecurity about your identity as God’s son or daughter, ask yourself this question, which part of the gospel don’t you believe is true for you?
For the Kids
- Why do you think the Jews didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God?
- Where do you see God in your life? What does God look like to you?
When people ask you to tell them about yourself, where do you begin? We are far more than just what we do—writer, teacher, barista, baker—and even more than our roles—mother, daughter, wife. Who are you, really? My husband and I recently talked about how our children’s personalities seem to have come pre-baked into their beings: their true selves are the same, at the core, as who they were when they came out of the womb. They are being shaped and formed and made more complete, but their essence is unchanged. What about you has always been true? Make a list or journal about the person God made you to be, underneath all of your roles and jobs and hobbies. If all of those were stripped away, who would be left? That is who you are.
I know it isn’t a book, but if you haven’t watched the film Moana, then that is the homework I’m assigning to you. Disney’s Moana captures the very heart of imposter syndrome and our deep desire to believe what we know to be true about ourselves. At the end of the film, Moana sings,
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are
It wrecks me every single time.
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated and equally profound book, here are two that have to do with finding your identity:
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl