1 John 3:1-3
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
“Who am I?” On the surface that would seem to be a rather simple question to answer, but yet for some reason in our ever changing world it doesn’t seem to be that simple. If I was to dig out my birth certificate and show it to you, you would see in black typewriter type that I was born a boy, my name is Michael William Feldmann, I was 22 inches long and weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces, and I was born at 11:29 am on Wednesday, January 28, 1981 at St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. That is who I am. My driver’s license also says who I am, how tall I am, what my hair and eye color is, and it also makes me aware of how much weight I’ve gained since it was issued a year ago. My marriage license tells me that I am the husband to one wife. And the awesome thing about my marriage license is that it even gives me the date of my marriage and the name of my wife in case I dare forget either one of those things. My kid’s birth certificates tell me that I am their father. So legally and biologically, this is who I am.
But when I meet someone and introduce myself to them, I don’t pull out my birth certificate or driver’s license and say to them “this is who I am.” Instead I introduce myself in regards to my relationships. I’m the husband of Jessica, the father of Faith and Heath. I’m the Associate Pastor at Salem Lutheran Church. I live just east of town in the country. This is a part of who I am.
But if we really want to get to the bottom of this question of who am I, we need to go back farther. We need to go beyond my DNA and my genes, we need to go back farther than my parents and grandparents … we need to go back to the beginning. We need to go back to creation. We need to go back to Genesis, to our Old Testament reading.
When we go back to the beginning, the first thing we see is that when God started creating the stars and moon, the water, land, animals and all the plants … God has a plan. God has this master plan of how all the various things of creation fit together so perfectly. In the midst of putting this complex master plan together, God pauses, He stops for a moment and what God does next is probably one of the most amazing things. God reaches His hands down into the dirt and forms the dirt to be a man who is made in His very own image. God creates man and then He breathes into him the breath of life and man becomes a living creature.
This is who we are. We are creatures created by God and given the spirit of God. Our bodies and souls are bound together, they are connected to each other. Just as they are connected to each other … we are connected, we are bound to the creation. As creatures of God, as God’s most prized creation, we are given this beautiful and good creation to thrive in, to thoroughly enjoy, and to take care of. … But sadly it doesn’t last.
Genesis three, the last part of our Old Testament reading has to be one of the saddest chapters in the whole bible. God has this marvelous and wonderful plan of having Adam and Eve enjoy this beautiful and good creation to thrive in and then they go and decide, “You know, we don’t like this plan. We aren’t satisfied with this plan. We don’t want to be mere creatures of the creation anymore, instead, we want to be God.” That’s the temptation Satan put before them. Eat the fruit and your eyes will be opened and you will be like God. Eve bought the lie, Adam bought into the lie, they ate the fruit and by doing so, they totally rejected God’s plan. That is the whole point of the fall. It isn’t that Adam and Eve ate the fruit. The eating of the fruit is actually the result of Adam and Eve’s desire to be God, to be their own god. The point of the fall is that they rejected the plan which God had laid out for them and all of creation. In doing so, they brought corruption, rejection, and destruction not only to the whole human race, not only to you and me, but to all of creation.
Because of this rejection by Adam and Eve, a kink has now been thrown into God’s original master plan. By their rejection, Adam and Eve have caused their relationship with God, their relationship with each other, their relationship with themselves, and their relationship with the creation to be broken. Since their rejection of God’s plan, everything and everyone have been living in this world of brokenness, in a world which is not functioning the way God had originally drawn up in His master plan
In light of this, let’s go back to our original question, “Who am I?” If we go back to Genesis, we see that you and I are sons and daughters of Adam. Like Adam, we are creatures created by God. In addition to what our birth certificates and driver’s licenses say, by the inherited genes passed down from Adam and Eve throughout all of mankind … you and I are a sinner. We are broken and in need of rescuing, in need of restoration.
But God doesn’t leave it this way, God doesn’t leave us here in our brokenness. The whole reality of what God accomplishes for you and me in Christ is in light of creation. God sent His one and only son down into creation, to be born of a woman, just like you and me. Jesus lives his life like you and me but he also lives his life unlike you and me. You see, where we are broken, where we are this poor miserable sinner, Jesus isn’t. Jesus did what we can’t do. Jesus lived his life according to God’s plan, he lived his life according to God’s law, God’s commands perfectly. Jesus lived as a perfect human being, which is huge. Jesus is a human being living his life in relationship with the creation, in perfect harmony with the creation, just the way it was suppose to be, just the way it was originally drawn up in God’s master plan back at the creation of the world. Then as the perfect human being, he accomplished for us our salvation through his death on the cross, through his resurrection from the grave. Through his perfect life, death, and resurrection, Jesus put everything back.
Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 6 when he says that, “you are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20a). You were bought at the price of Christ himself. His death on the cross, his resurrection from the grave has purchased you. If you have been purchased by Christ, then you don’t belong to you. You are not your own but you are Christ’s. So your identity is that you belong to God. From the very beginning of creation, you are God’s. You and I, we don’t get to choose who we are, we don’t get to choose my hair color, the information put on my birth certificate. We don’t get to choose our genetics and who are parents are going to be. They are just given to us.
But the most awesome thing is that you and I don’t get to choose our salvation either. Our salvation is a gift of God given to you purely out of God’s fatherly divine goodness and mercy. God comes to you, He comes to you in the precious waters of your baptism and claims you to be His. You are Gods. He claims you to be His precious child.
So who am I? You and I, we are sons and daughters of Adam, we are created creatures of God. And even though we are created, we are special as you and I were uniquely created with our own God given traits and personalities. We are more precious than anything else in all of creation as God knitted each of us together in our mother wombs and as He continues to uniquely knit together those yet unborn. Each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). But we are also a sinner, there is no doubt about that. We are not always satisfied being creatures but instead we want to be the one in charge, so we worship ourselves. On top of that, we place our things, our social status, our wealth above God. We like the disciples in the gospel lesson tend to argue amongst ourselves and with others as to who is the greatest, when in reality, it is none of us. As sinners, we are at the bottom of any “Who is the greatest” list we can think of.
So we are sons and daughters of Adam, created and bound to creation. We are sinners in need of restoration, but we are also sons and daughters of God, we are God’s redeemed children. That is who we are now. But John says in the second reading, “what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Through Christ and by Christ, on the last day when he comes, he will raise up these created bodies of ours, restore them, make them perfect and we will live in the new and perfect creation as the precious children of God that we are. You will live as a child of God in perfect harmony with the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven according to God’s perfect master plan. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.