An old story written by Wayne Cordeiro in his book, “Doing Church As A Team” tells of a rabbi living in a Russian city a century ago. Disappointed by his lack of direction and life purpose, he wandered in the chilly evening. With his hands thrust deep in his pockets, he aimlessly walked through the empty streets, questioning his faith in God, the Scriptures, and his calling to ministry. The only thing colder than the Russian winter air was the chill within his soul. He felt so enshrouded by his own despair that he mistakenly wandered into a Russian military compound off-limits to civilians.
The bark of a Russian soldier shattered the silence of the evening chill. “Who are you? And what are you doing here?”
“Excuse me?” replied the rabbi.
“I said, ‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’ ”
After a brief moment, the rabbi, in a gracious tone so as not to provoke the soldier, said, “How much do you get paid every day?”
“What does that have to do with you?” the soldier retorted.
With the delight of someone making a new discovery, the rabbi said, “I will pay you the equal sum if you will ask me those same two questions every day: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing here?’ ”
Let me be that Russian soldier for you as you read the next couple of pages. I will ask you those same two questions:
Who are you? What are you doing here?
These are two of the most important life questions that Chinonye Agu tries to answer in this book.
At some point in His earthly ministry and relationship with His disciples, Jesus asked them, 'Who do men say that I am?' When Peter, out of the entire lot said to Him, 'Thou art the son of God, Jesus knew that only God could have inspired and revealed such an accurate description and definition of Him to Peter.
No one could have given that accurate description and definition of Him without having had a revelational encounter with God.
The same applies to you.
No man can properly and accurately define you except it is revealed to them who you are. Flesh and blood cannot discern you or understand your person, describe your calling, or grasp your assignment. Only God and whomever He reveals it to, can. Flesh and blood can only judge after the flesh. And those people who have a conviction of your identity would always stick by you and accept you, and declare, like Peter, 'to whom shall we go? Only you ...'
Friend, everything about life becomes easy and interesting when you understand this. You won't struggle to run after or please anyone. Those that are significant and that matter to your destiny will locate you and will remain. Others may leave but these ones will keep saying 'to whom shall we go?' Stop running after people, or looking for validation from those who do not qualify to give it. Stop wondering why some don't understand you or your calling. If flesh and blood could not do it for Jesus, flesh and blood will not do it for you.
But you see, it all starts from truly knowing who you really are. Identity theft is a big problem in society today. Many people have lost a great deal because they are victims of identity theft, and this has caused them significant financial and emotional losses. It’s even a bigger problem when we are dealing with spiritual identity theft.
Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. One of the things Satan wants to steal is our identity in Christ. And you know, just as Chinonye has explained in this book, your identity is your crown. Many people are at a point in their lives where they are so confused and hopeless because the enemy has robbed them of their identity and has given them a dummy. He has convinced them to buy his lie that they are not accepted by God. That their conversion was a joke. If you are one of such people, I am glad to tell you that there is hope for you.
Remember, the enemy went after Jesus’ identity. Matt 3:16-4:7. Jesus had just heard his Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Now, we hear Satan saying to Jesus, “IF you are the Son of God”. Satan was tempting Jesus to doubt his identity. He wanted to get Jesus to do certain things to confirm his identity, but Jesus didn’t fall for it. So, you see, if he went after Jesus’ identity, he will come after yours as well.
Some have a confused sense of identity. This is the same thing that is called an “identity crisis”, which is one of the most important conflicts people face in development. People who have this crisis tend to feel out of place in the world and don’t pursue a sense of true identity. They are convinced that they are insignificant and unimportant. They believe they don’t fit in anywhere and don’t have a sense of belonging. And then they become depressed and suicidal. They convince themselves that there’s nothing to live for. They are weighed down with stress and anxiety. Because of this, they render themselves defective and useless. Since they can’t figure out who they are and where they belong, they decide there’s no point in their existence because no one cares, not even God. Therefore, it’s time to make their exit. Have you seen or read how suicide cases have skyrocketed globally in recent years?
Some of us have a warped sense of identity. Perhaps we heard growing up how we were no good or would never amount to anything and that became our identity. Perhaps we were teased in school and we became identified by whatever we were called. We become adults but those abusive voices haven’t left. We become Christians yet we still struggle with those nagging, negative chants. We still identify ourselves as unloved losers; a waste of space. Because of this negative grooming, we come to identify ourselves by our character flaws; our issues, and our sins. And we behave according to what we’re convinced of. Norman Vincent Peale wrote, ‘You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.’ If I believe I am a loser then I will live accordingly. It doesn’t matter what the truth is, it matters what I think the truth is. It doesn’t matter what is real, it only matters what I think is real. It doesn’t matter what my true identity is, it only matters what my perceived identity is.
How can I discover who I really am and solve my identity crisis?
We need to ask ourselves: who are we allowing to be the authoritative voice in our lives? Satan’s (who only lies to us)? Other people (who could be confused or ignorant of the truth or just plain messed up themselves)? Or God’s (who is the truth)? We are so held back when we have an identity crisis. But we need to believe in God. We need to line up our thinking with God’s truth and what He has said about us. When we feel like a failure, a loser, a nobody, we need to remember the reality of Psalm 139:14 where God tells us we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made. When we feel unloved, we need to believe God’s truth in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If we believe God when he says that he loves us unconditionally, since Romans 8:39 says that nothing can separate us from his love, then we can gain a healthy self-image, realizing who we are and how special we are to God.
Did Jesus have an identity crisis? No, he wanted to make sure his disciples knew what his identity was. That’s important for us too. We can’t attack our own identity crisis if we haven’t answered the most important identity question-who is Jesus? If we can’t answer the way Peter did, then we will never resolve our own identity crisis.
Until we believe the 7 ‘I am statements of Jesus: 1. I am the way. 2. I am the light. 3. I am the Bread. 4. I am the Good shepherd. 5. I am the vine. 6. I am the gate 7. I am the resurrection and the life; we will be confused about his identity and therefore, confused about our own. When we discover who Jesus is, then we are beginning to discover who we are.
Chinonye in this book freely shares with the reader her personal challenges, struggles, and experiences to drive home the reality and hopelessness that is engendered by the identity crisis, and the blessedness of its discovery as the real deal for anyone who wants to amount to anything significant in life. She makes bold to say through this book that your purpose, destiny, success, and essence are all wrapped up in who you are, as defined by God, and discovered by you. And that through the power, the promises, and the victory we have in Jesus, we have identity security and we have overcome our identity crisis. Anything short of this makes life a waste for any individual.
I sincerely believe that as you read with an open mind, you will come to the conclusion at the end of this book, that God who has helped and is still helping Chinonye, is faithful, and will help you as well.