Who are you? (James 1:1)
“Who are you?” I met a church planter in Calgary last year who was planting a church into an area in the city, and his practice was to go to a particular local Starbucks Coffee every day and work there striking up conversations with anyone who frequented the same Starbucks.
His favourite question as he engaged people was to ask them; “So, who are you?” He told me how most people would begin to answer by saying what they did for a living.
But he would cut them short saying; “I didn’t ask you what you DO, I asked you WHO YOU ARE?” At which point many would look quizzically and reply; “Hmmm I’m not sure how to answer that question.” He would then proceed to ask them if they wanted to explore that together with him.
So, WHO ARE YOU? What’s your primary identity?
Our world is filled with people trying to answer that question with all sorts of things ranging from culture, language, family, achievements, careers…
James, the writer of this little book we are reading and meditating on for the next month, answered that question in the following way in James 1:1;
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Greetings.” – James 1:1 (ESV)
What a way to introduce oneself! A servant or a slave of Jesus, as some translations say, this was James’ primary identity. Is this how you think of yourself? Is this what defines you more than any other thing?
Paul like James uses this phrase “slave of Jesus” to introduce himself to the Roman believers (Romans 1:1). And in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 we read of the reason in the heart of Paul as to why he, like James identifies himself in this way;
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
The Christ Follower is one for whom Jesus died, SO THAT they would ‘no longer live for themselves but for Him’ who died for them. When we believe in Jesus, we don’t add Jesus to the mix of all we do. No, when we put our faith in Jesus, He revolutionises our whole lives and transforms our identity!
When we put our faith in Jesus, we get a new identity; we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:16) whose purpose is now totally orientated around serving God, pleasing God (2 Corinthians 5:9). We are those who have been re-defined by our faith in Jesus; He is our new master, our Lord. We exist to serve His purposes on the planet with our one precious life He has given to us.
Spend a moment thinking about the question; “Who are you?” If you are a Christ Follower, I urge you to ask Jesus to help you see that being a “servant of Jesus” is your identity just like James and Paul and millions of others. And as that truth about your identity becomes clear it will lead you to another question which we can ask every day; “Lord Jesus, what do you want me to do for You today?”
As Jesus speaks to you, obey Him and watch as Jesus leads you into serving Him and others in remarkable ways, knowing that He is faithful and that He will reward those who live their lives in this way.