I immediately thought to myself, now that’s the best interview question I’ve ever heard. I was taking part in a group interview, and one of the other interviewers asked the question: “Tell me who you are without telling me what you do.”
It really is the perfect interview question because it gets to the very heart of our identity. As I heard it, I found myself wondering how I would answer. So I ask you…tell me who you are without telling me what you do. No, really, I want you to think about it.
< Take a moment to think about your answer. >
Was that hard? Why was it hard? We struggle, probably because we are conditioned to think that the essence of who we are is wrapped up in the content of what we do. When that content get’s stripped away, we don’t quite know what to think about our essence. Exposing this reality helps us think through the question of definition.
I will often tell people whom I am ministering to that __________ doesn’t define them. Their job doesn’t define them. Their hobby doesn’t define them. Their sport doesn’t define them. If they are in Christ, Jesus defines them. Their identity is in Christ. It’s true, but what does it mean?
In my job, it is easy to try and define myself by my role. Pastor. It tells a lot about who I am by describing what I do. Sure, there are some personal characteristics wrapped up in that one word, but does it really capture the essence of who I am? I don’t think so. To do that, I’ve got to get beyond the descriptions of what I do, and move to the status of who I am.
Who I am is quite simple. I am a child of God. I am an heir to the kingdom, an adopted son of the Living God. Among other passages in Scripture, John 1:12-13 captures this well. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
So there it is. If you are a Christian, you are defined by your status…as a child of God. Problem solved. It’s all better now. No more worries, right? Wrong. Life is still hard. There are still struggles. And that’s where Romans 7 comes in. Romans 7:7-25 is one of the most intensely relatable passages in all of Scripture. It is Paul’s description of his, and our, struggle with the reality of indwelling sin…those nagging sin patterns that we struggle to find victory over. But in our experience of struggle, Romans 7 tells us we are not alone. The Apostle Paul is saying, “Me too!”
If you are a Christian, you know this real life struggle. The Christian life is beautiful, and messy. It is joyful, and bloody. It is a life of peace, and struggle. Yet the beauty of Romans 7, and the rest of Scripture for that matter, is that we are reminded once again there is a difference between what we experience, and what defines us.
I know, I know. You just want to be free from the struggle. But that’s not real life. And the Bible is real life. The Bible doesn’t ignore the reality of our experience. It gives word to our experience. But the Word also points us to our Savior, and the Savior speaks a louder word than the constant whisper of experience. This is what we find in Romans 7…a call to focus on Christ in the dailyness of our inner struggle with sin. It takes us to the end of ourselves, leads us to our strong Deliverer, and transitions us into the loving, encouraging words of the Holy Spirit.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”