Sometime this week most of us will meet someone we do not yet know. It may be at school or through work or at the gym. It could be at the mall or the doctor’s office or even in our own neighborhood. And soon after you meet, the conversation will turn to an explanation of who you are or what you do. Interestingly enough, we often equate those two things as being synonymous – who we are and what we do.
That can become a challenge when “what we do” changes. Because what we do is constantly changing. Over my adult life i have been an accountant, a businessman, an administrator, a pastor, a ministry leader, and now i find myself in the unlikely role of becoming an author. But “who i am” in reality did not change with each of those career shifts.
Sometimes we equate who we are in light of our most valued relationships. i am a husband or a dad or a grandpa or a son or a brother or a best friend, etc. But even our most valued relationships can sometimes change due to circumstances way outside of our control. So does that mean that who we are changes?
I believe it was that very core of who we are that Jesus was speaking to when He taught:
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49 ESV)
We will miss His whole point if we walk away from this passage thinking Jesus was talking about what we do. He was talking about the very foundation of our life. He was talking about who we are in relationship with Him – that He is our foundation. He is our Lord. He is our meaning. He is our purpose. Flood waters will rise and break “against the house” – what we do will change. Our relationships may even change. But if He is the Rock of our foundation, who we are will not change with the storms and the changes of our lives.
The apostle Peter is a great example. And it’s telling that Jesus in fact renamed him from Simon to Peter – meaning the “rock”. Simon was a Galilean fisherman. He and his wife lived in the town of Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. He had grown up there. He and his younger brother, Andrew, were partnered with a man by the name of Zebedee, together with his two sons, James and John, in a successful fishing enterprise. The enterprise had been passed on to Simon, as the eldest son, by his deceased father, John.
Simon probably came from a long line of fishermen. He had that tanned and ruddy appearance that comes from spending each day under the hot sun. Years of repeated casting and drawing of fishing nets had enabled him to develop a strong muscular frame. Simon was a man’s man who worked hard to earn a living and to care for his family. Like the others in his family, he was a religious man. He faithfully attended the local synagogue, and he traveled to Jerusalem at least one time each year – to celebrate the Passover.
But other than that, he spent his days on the sea gathering fish and on the shore attending the tools of his trade - cleaning, mending and preparing his nets and maintaining his boat. He knew the bounty of a plentiful harvest, but he also knew the disappointment of a day’s labor with nothing to show for it. Simon’s life was “normal”, predictable and relatively uneventful – until the day he met Jesus!
Andrew came running to Simon insisting that Simon come with him to meet a Man; but not just any man – a Man who Andrew purported to be the Messiah. i’m not sure whether Simon believed Andrew at first, but nonetheless he went with Andrew to meet Jesus. And as they came to Jesus, Andrew said, “Master, this is my brother Simon.” Scripture records that Jesus “looked intently at Simon” (John 1:42).
Imagine that look! Jesus looked at Simon as One who knew him – and knew him better than Simon knew himself. He looked at Simon as if He had always known him – because He had. And He knew not only Simon’s life of days past, He knew what lay ahead. As Jesus looked at Simon, He saw Simon’s faithfulness as well as Simon’s faithlessness; Jesus saw his moral victories, as well as his moral failures. And Jesus saw a “rock” – not the “rock” that he was, but the “rock” he would be with Jesus as his foundation.
On occasion he would forget who he was and temporarily become Simon the fisherman again. One of those times was the night he denied even knowing Jesus. But His Lord, by His grace, would always be faithful to draw Him close and remind him that he was Peter the follower of Jesus. Because who he was in Jesus would never change.
And so it can be for us. Who do i choose to be at my core? Am i Ken the author or husband or grandpa? Or am i Ken a follower of Jesus? The reality is if i choose the latter, He’ll make the former even sweeter – except maybe the “author” thing – that still remains to be seen 🙂.
Who are you?
Excerpt from Walking With The Master, Ch. 14
As i wrote this week’s post, i was listening to this worship song taken from the Luke 6 passage i reference above. i invite you to stop and worship the One who is worthy.
Build My Life
Worthy of every song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
We live for you
Jesus the name above every other name
Jesus the only one who could save
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
We live for you
Oh we live for you
Holy there is no one like you
There is none beside you
Open up my eyes in wonder
Show me who you are and fill me
With your heart and lead me
In your love to those around me
And I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation
And I will put my trust in you alone
And I will not be shaken
Songwriters: Matt Redman / Pat Barrett / Brett Younker / Karl Martin / Kirby Kaple / Karl Andrew Martin