Who Am I? Part 1

Who Am I? Part 1

Text: Ex. 2-4 (Acts 7:17-36; Heb. 11:23-27)

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Introduction: In our personal lives and in our society, the issue of identity is a focal & often controversial concern! We cannot take it for granted.

  • Two major strategies for developing a sense of identity:
    • Looking Outward to Define Yourself: you are defined by your family and your social order, trained by those who came before you to fit into an established world.
    • Looking Inward to Discover Yourself: you discover who you are by exploring your desires and your feelings. As you discover this true inner self, you express yourself in a flexible and fluid world.
    • Both strategies have contributions to make, but both are incomplete.
  • From the Biblical point of view, even the two together are problematic because they are flesh/world-centered strategies

Explore the Story of Moses as a Test Case:

Growing Up at the Boundary of Two Worlds

  • Moses developed his identity in Egypt for 40 Years (2:1-10)
  • Raised, Educated, and Trained in the House of Pharaoh
  • At age 40, an identity crisis develops at the boundary of two cultures.
    • Moses’ deepest identity was not as an Egyptian but as an Israelite.
    • Longing for His People and Desiring to Protect an Israelite from an Egyptian, Moses kills and buries the Egyptian.
  • Consequences: Rejected by Israelites and by Pharoah

Forming a New Self-Understanding as an Exile: A Foreigner in a Foreign Land for 40 Years

  • A new family.
  • A new social role: working as a shepherd.

A New Identity Initiated by the Living God (3:1-10)

  • God initiates an unexpected encounter when Moses is 80!
    • Moses answers when his name is called: “Here I am.” 3:4
  • Awe! Moses recognizes the presence of One greater than himself! Moses is told to take off his sandals because this is holy ground.
    • When God identifies himself to Moses, Moses hides his face in fear.

God is sending Moses back to Egypt & to Israel with a purpose:

  • As he makes sense of what God is asking from him, he remembers the social worlds that had defined and rejected him. Moses has questions!
  • God’s Presence: I Will Be with You (3:11-12)
    • Moses asks, Who am I? Moses sees himself as unworthy and unqualified! There must be some mistake.
      • God is calling a disgraced 80-year-old shepherd challenge the mighty nation of Egypt.
    • God answers, “I will be with you.”
  • God’s Purpose: “I Am who I AM” has sent me” (3:13-15)
    • Moses asked, “What if the Israelites hear my claim that the God of their fathers has sent me to you and then ask me “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?
    • God reveals his name: “I AM who I AM.
    • YHWH Sends Moses! “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.’” 3 times the text says, “has sent me”.
  • God’s Power: I Will Act with You (4:1-9)
    • Moses raises a realistic concern: “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
      • When people question the validity of his identity: who are you that we should we trust God would send you?!
    • God assures Moses that they will work together with power:
      • Staff into a Snake (good thing Moses was not my sweet wife Jackie with her fear of snakes!)
      • A leprous hand; Water from the Nile will become blood.
      • Signs & Wonders point not to the person but to God.

 Doubts Arise! Moses Experiences Psychological Instability and Insecurity

  • God’s Provision
    • Moses doubts his ability. (4:10-12)
      • Moses feels unstable and unable: full of doubt & worry!
        • “Pardon your servant, Lord, but I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
      • God responds: “Who made your mouth? I did! Now go and I will help you speak and teach you what to say.”
    • Moses doubts God’s ability to use someone like Moses! (4:13-17)
      • Moses thinks God is confused & wrong in His choice!
        • “Please send someone else.”
        • Our familiar identity is stubborn & resistant to change!
      • God is angry with Moses but does not abandon him: “I have sent Aaron to join you, and I will help both of you. I shall speak to you, you will speak to him, and I will help and teach both of you.”

A Third 40-year Phase of Self-Understanding Begins

  • Moses Spends the Rest of His Life Learning to Live Moment to Moment in Faithful Obedience to God-With-Him.
  • 40 years of learning, again and again, to trust and obey God in the new identity God is giving him.

Conclusion: Some of you are struggling with your identity as God calls you to live faithfully in His presence.

Jesus is the prophet like Moses that was promised (see Acts 3:17-26)

  • Jesus spent three years training his followers to live in his presence.
  • As Moses was invited to meet with God, Jesus initiated relationships.
    • When he sees people weary and burdened living their lives on their own terms, he invites them to be with him in the yoke and learn from him. (Mt. 11: 25-30)
    • He often tells them to leave critical sources of their identity behind to be with him and learn from him how to live a life with him: they must often leave their work, family, friends, & possessions.
      • If I cling tightly to an old source of my identity, if I have made it an essential idol of my identity, then I should not be surprised that Jesus would ask me to let go of it.
        • Fired as a preacher and years outside any spotlight.
        • Divorce as a closed door.
        • When God changes our mind
      • But see the Woman at the Well in John 4: sometimes he sends them back to their home as a transformed person.
    • He teaches, trains, and sends his followers to do his work with him.
      • He forms a community, a fellowship of people who identify with him. Later they are described as his body!
      • When they worry about what to say, he assures them that words will be given to them. Lk. 12:11-12
      • When he sees their anxiety about the contingencies of life, he assures them that they do not need to be anxious because His Father loves them and will provide daily what they need. (Mt. 6)
    • As he leaves, he promises his disciples to be with them always. He assures them that he will send His Spirit to be with them. (Mt. 28:20; Lk 24:29)
      • Life with Jesus is called abiding in him or remaining with him. He used the analogy of vine and branch, and he then declares his love for them, “You are my friends if you do what I ask of you.” (Jn. 15)
    • Jesus, the obedient son of His Father, lived and worked in the most intimate of with-God relationships the world has ever seen, and that led him to become obedient to death, even death on a cross.
      • Our identity is not primarily as members of an institutional church, it is as people who know Jesus and who are growing more like him as they live with him. (Phil. 2:1-16)

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