WHO AM I? By James Serengia
If there is a crucial question an average person has never really answered, is the question “who
am I?” Statistics have it that billions of people around the world go through life without
knowing who they really are. The few who tries to confront the question occasionally use the
wrong approach, missing the whole point. We talk of a tragedy!? This is a tragedy and a crisis
“Well, who am I then?” No doubt this question is bombarding you mind. Probably you’re
asking yourself, “Am I what I do: a security guard, a teacher, a mother, an accountant? Or, am I
what I have achieved: a university graduate, a PhD holder?”
This week I attend a Sunday service at Main Campus Christian Union (MCCU), University of
Nairobi (UoN) where I learned a lot on this topic –“WHO AM I?” I have written this article to
share with you the lessons I have learned and some of my experiences to help you discover the
real you. I’m so passionate about this topic because it is only through encountering the real you
that you’ll have a meaning and purpose for life.
Our definition of self can be highly influenced by the voices we listen to.
Most of these voices come from those we spend most of our time with –our family members.
These are the people we expect to speak words of faith over us and help us become the best
we can be. However, this is not always the case as some of us are smashed by the very people
who were meant to protect us.
The world is full of people who have developed a poor self-concept simply because of the
negative words spoken over them by their own family members. They grew up in such a
depressing and dysfunctional environment where the only thing they heard is: “You’re good for
nothing. You’re useless just like your ____.” (I can’t even mention the word.)
One thing we all know is that words are very powerful. One word spoken over you can haunt
you and hold you back for years when you accept it to define you!
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Society is also at the forefront in imparting identities on people. They’ll define you based on the
salary you get, the car you drive, where you live or the cloths you wear. The problem with this is
that society is dynamic. That is to say, if you base your identity on society, your identity is on a
shaking ground and you are doomed to failure. What follows? You’ll never be contented.
Again, the devil is not on vacation! He is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone
to devour. To get you to his jaws, he uses many voices to try to give you the wrong identity. In
Genesis 3 we read about the fall of man. The enemy came to Eve and the trap he used was
confronting her with the question of identity. The devil said to Eve, “You’ve told me God told
you that you must not eat from this tree. That isn’t the case. The real issue is: God knows when
he let you eat this fruit, you will be like him – (Paraphrase).” Eve got into the trap and this is
what led to the fall of man. Why? Eve confused her identity to that of God.
Jesus also encountered this deceiver. After praying and fasting for forty days, the bible records
that Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted. Notice the devil’s tactic; he confronted the Son
of God with the question of identity. He said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, turn this stone
into bread… If you’re the Son of God, jump down from here. If you are the Son of God, do this.
Knowing the enemy’s intention, Jesus simply said, “It is written.” In essence he was saying,
“Get behind me devil. This issue is not debatable. I know you want to manipulate my identity.
Get this you liar: You can’t define me by where I am now. Yes it is uncomfortable out here in the
desert. Yes it is tough coping up with these hot steaming temperatures. But you know what,
you’ve missed the point. Where I am, is not who I am.”
I don’t know, but maybe you’ve gone through unfair situations in the past. Perhaps your own
parents have mistreated you to a point that when you see them, you’ve seen a devil’s agent. It
could be you grew up in a very depressing environment. I understand it’s painful, but please,
don’t make a mistake of letting your past define you. Instead have the attitude of Jesus and
declare, “Even though I may not feel like it. Even though it may not make sense in the natural, I
know what God says about me. I choose to listen to the voice of truth!”
Friends, even though these depressing pressures can be overwhelming at times, don’t be
tempted to sit on the sidelines and just watch your life going down the drain.
In the Old Testament, we read about this old window, Naomi. Naomi had gone through the
most depressing situation in life. She had lost her husband. She had lost her two sons. She had
no food, and to add salt on an injury, she was in a foreign Land. Her life had literally fallen
apart. When she could not stand the situation any longer, she decided to leave Moab for
Bethlehem, her home town –perhaps just to wait for her death.
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Ruth, her in-law, had insisted to accompany her to Moab and the Scripture (in Ruth 1:19) says,
upon their arrival, women were aligned across the whole town to receive Naomi back home. In
great joy they exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
I suppose Naomi had totally changed. No doubt she looked miserable! I can imagine this grand-
mama, walking with resentments written all over her face –announcing to the world that life
had given her a curve. In a fretting voice, she complained: “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,
because the Almighty Has made my life very bitter. I went away full but the Lord has brought
me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought
misfortune upon me.”(Ruth 1:20…)
In Hebrew, the name Naomi means “pleasantness” and Mara means “bitter.” Naomi made the
mistake I’m asking you not to make; the mistake of walking with a chip on her shoulder and
letting depressing situations define her. I can’t think but wonder what could have happen to
Naomi, were it not for Ruth who was at her beck and call, and who brought about a turnaround
in their life after being married to Boaz.
When our identity is in jeopardy, we are vulnerable to the devils attacks. We live in a time
where many people are totally lost in others. What am I saying? Today more than ever, we see
people who have abandoned their true identity and are busy copying other people. You meet
them in the streets and you’ll be shocked –they walk like somebody else, talk like somebody
else, and even force themselves smile like somebody else. The question to ask is, “when will
they ever be themselves?” There is only one “you” in the whole universe. You’re irreplaceable.
There is something unique about you. There is something you can do that no one else can. Let
me ask you, if you live someone else’s life, who will live your life? You’re born an original, why
die a copy?
“Now, how do I find my identity?” Perhaps you’re asking.
See, if you want to know the identity of something, you ask the manufacturer of the thing.
Now, your identity is divine. That is to say, if you want to know the real you, don’t ask me. Don’t
ask your classmate. Don’t ask your society either. Instead, ask your manufacturer, ask the one
who chose you before the foundation of time, the one that knitted you together in your
mother’s womb, the one that holds the universe, the Almighty God.
In Exodus 3 and 4, we read about the call of Moses. When God called him on a mission to bring
the children of Israel out of bondage and oppression, Moses had a poor concept of himself. The
Bible records that Moses complained to God saying things like, “Who am I to send? I’m just but
a shepherd out here. I’m not eloquent. Nothing good is going for me…” Moses went on and on,
giving a list of why he thought he could not measure up to the task.
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In all this, I like how God introduced himself to Moses. He said, “Go tell them I AM WHO I AM.”
In effect, God was saying, “Who I am determines who I am. When I’m with you, you are not the
stammering-feeble-Moses. In me you’re more than a conqueror!”
See what 1st Peter 2:9 says, “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of
darkness into His wonderful light.” One of my favorite gospel artists, Snatch, also echoed these
words in her song tagged, “I know who I am.” We can hum the tune as we move along. This is
how it goes (sing with me):
We are the chosen generation, called forth to show His excellence. All I require for life God
has given me, and I know who I am…x2. I know who God says I am, where He says I am,
where He says I’m at. I know I am…
We can suffice the whole idea of this song to say, we are who God says we are, and through
Him we know who we are.
In Mathew 16, Jesus asked his disciples this crucial question: “What do people say I am?” The
disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say, Jeremiah or
one of the prophets.” At this point, Jesus’s attitude was, “Ok guys, I’ve heard enough of the
rumors. Now I want to hear from you. Tell me, who do you say I am?” The disciples were
tongue-lashed! I can imagine them hanging their heads down –blushing and unable to face the
In all this time, something amazing was happening on the inside of Simon Peter. He was
getting the revelation of who Jesus really was. Suddenly, Peter’s face lit up and he broke the
silence. He said to Jesus, “teacher, I’ve known the real you. You are the Christ, the Son of the
If you understand Peter’s background, you will appreciate that for him to give such a response,
it was a long short. There had to be some divine intervention. Why? Naturally, no one could
expect Peter to know all that. I was reading his background the other day and one thing about
him is that he was a kind of a person who was very unstable. He could easily be manipulated
and go with the wind. In fact, the name Simon actually meant meek, or, literally a leaf.
Jesus told Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by
man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will
build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:17-18)
I want you to note something very critical here. The moment Simon got a glimpse of revelation
of who Jesus was; he found who he really was. It downed on him that even though people and
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society saw him as Simon –a leaf and an aimless fellow, –that was not his real identity. His real
identity was Peter, the rock; the person through which God was going to build His church.
Another key is that, identity is followed by purpose. Reading father down, in Matt 16:18, Jesus
tells Peter “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will
be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In effect, this is
what Jesus was saying, “Peter, now that you know who you are, I’ll reveal to you your purpose.”
This is what happened to Apostle Paul. In Acts chapter 9, before his conversion, Paul asked God,
“Who are you Lord?” God revealed himself to him and immediately he was introduced to a new
perspective of God he had never experienced. That led to a turnaround in his life. Paul could
now understand God’s purpose for his life. In other words, his revelation of God changed him
from Saul, a serial kill and persecutor of Christians –to- Apostle Paul, the proclaimer and the
defender of Christ.
The bottom line is:
You’ll get to know your identity when you fix your eyes on Jesus.
The question “who am I”, is the question of identity. Unless you know who you really
are, the question of life purpose remains a mystery and life will have no meaning.
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October 07, 2018
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