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Why your identity isn’t rooted in possessions and appearances.

There is only one question: Who are you? Everything else in life flows from that one question. That is true whether you are a person of faith or not; the identity question is the question. In fact, every religion, every denial of religion, and every philosophy or ideology seeks to tell people who they are, how they fit with the reality around them, and how they should then live. If your life has any meaning, it will be because you project—and have projected—a meaningful identity.

Who are you? Who gets to say? My answer is God, but that raises the question, Who speaks for God? My answer is Scripture, but that raises the question, Who gets to interpret Scripture? In the end, each person is responsible for interpreting, but that does not suggest some kind of naive individualism or that you can make a text mean what you want or that readers do not need to be taught. Interpretation should take place within a community of faith, one that includes the whole church, past and present. We read together to understand together and hold each other accountable.

The purpose of any “scripture” is to answer the identity question, to tell people who God says they are. A text is only called “scripture” because someone believes that text has power to define and transform life. This is certainly the case with the Bible. The Bible seeks to tell us who we are, who God says we are—and should be—how we fit in God’s purposes, and how we should live because of our identity.

Image Versus Identity

At some level I have always known Scripture was about identity. Long ago I discovered a statement. I have lost the source, but the statement is lodged in my mind. It says, “People were always coming to …

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