Who are you? Ok, I know you have a name and a social security number. You are known by name and by number, but who are you? What drives you? What moves you? What crushes and destroys you? Are you joyful, melancholy, or indifferent? Do you snort when you laugh (that’s my wife ?)? Do you hate musicals? Do you love reality shows? Do you snore? Are you the life of the party or the wallflower? Confident or insecure? Fulfilled or empty? Got it all together or broken deep within?
Would it surprise you if I said that who you are today is not who you have always been? The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah something magnificent. He said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” This reveals to us that we were created by God. He knew us. We were alive. He knew our heart, our mind, our personality. He knew us as uniquely different from any other of the billions of humans that have been crafted in His hands and filled with His spirit of life. Then He gave us form in the womb. We were no longer spirit, but we had a form. The word ‘form’ here means ‘to mold as a potter would with clay.’ We were in His hands even in the womb of our mother. But something strange occurred in the womb.
Our form, our little body as it developed needed blood. The Scripture says that the ‘life of a thing is in its blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). Our form began as a fertilized egg from our father and mother. Our little bodies began to develop and the blood of our mother gave nourishment as our eyes and hands slowly began to develop. Here, the Lord was with us, forming us and crafting us. He was like a master artist putting the final touches on a masterpiece. This is who we were. But then, we were born and all Hell broke loose. In our new form, we were acutely aware of our surroundings. Our new flesh craved touch and our physical bellies needed milk. This new form birthed changed everywhere. Our environment changed from eternal to temporal. We rested in the hands of a nurse, a mother, a father, or neither. Before, our entire presence was enveloped by perfect love and perfect peace. We had no thought but what was good and right and perfect. It was all we knew. But with our new form, our awareness changed from God to man and as we grew, we knew evil. No one taught it to us. We were already familiar because of the change through birth.
I remember telling my mother and father that I didn’t feel well as a five or six year old kid. But later that afternoon, I heard all of my friends outside playing and I also went outside to play. My mother caught me pretty quick trying to sneak out. No one had put that idea into my mind and I didn’t need anyone to teach me that it was wrong. Those thoughts were my thoughts. Before Adam and Eve were introduced to wicked thoughts by that old serpent, nothing like that had ever occurred to them, but now, those thoughts come as we grow up in this world.
Not only do we, as children have impure thoughts and do wrong things, once we are born into this world, we are exposed to the wickedness of this world. We encounter a highly imperfect love compared to the most perfect love we had known before birth. What is worse is that our bodily form overshadows our spirit and we have no recollection of being in the presence of God. This is all the product of sin. Without a choice, we experience love with flaws at best and at it’s worst, no love whatsoever. How are we affected after birth when we suddenly know wickedness and suddenly become exposed to the wickedness of this life?
The person that we are today is the culmination of the sin born into us, the degree of sin or love we have been exposed to, and our reaction to the same. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Lord gives us a picture of perfect love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
To the degree that those closest to us were patient or not, we were transformed. There is such great power in love, but there is also great power in the absence of love. We were transformed by the degree to which those closest to us were kind or harsh, put us first or themselves, treated us as valuable or like trash, loved us or only themselves, spoke tenderly or screamed at the top of their lungs, forgave or heaped guilt, hugged or beat, cherished or hated…I think you get the idea.
Our transformation continued as we learned to respond to what we experienced. Some of us had good examples and chose to follow them. Others had the same, but chose to rebel and go after what they knew was wrong. Still others had horrible examples all around them and followed suit. And there are those miracle people who so despised being anything like their dad or their mom, that they drove themselves to succeed and they made sure their children felt loved and wanted because they never did.
The point is that no matter who you are, you have been greatly affected by sin. I know there are parts of me that I hate. I hate my temper. I hate my insecurity. I hate my eating habits. I hate all of these. Maybe today, there are parts of you that you hate with a passion. You wish you didn’t do certain things or that you didn’t feel certain things. You may feel less than, or racked with guilt over parts of you that disgust you. Well, here is what I want to say to you and I hope you are listening. No matter who you are, sin had made you less than what you were before you were formed in the womb of your mother’s belly. You never had an impure thought. You never considered anything less than beautiful. You loved perfectly. You were never selfish, never sad, never arrogant. You were without sin.
This is why Paul writes this incredible statement to the church in Rome:
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
Paul understood that the person he had become living in sin and in a sinful world was not his true identity. What a revelation? The parts of me that I hate are not me. Like a scar on a child who fell into the coffee table, sin and the effects of others’ sin is on me, but it is not who I am. And if I am not those parts of me that I hate, but these are sin and the effects thereof, how wonderful is the good news of Jesus Christ who has come to remove in me everything that was not part of me when I still existed only in the presence of the Holy One.
Stop hating yourself. Stop looking down on who you think you are. That’s not you. You have been fearfully and wonderfully and perfectly made. Your sin is not you. Your pain is not you. Your regret is not you. Your bitterness and hatred is not you. Your abortion is not you. Your broken marriages do not reflect who you really are.
And praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ who has come to wash away everything in us that is not us. Praise be to the God who has come to bring us back to who we once were. He has come to heal the wounds and straighten the crooked. Each day as you grow and mature in Him, He is restoring you more and more to the real you. Then one day, when our time comes, we will be perfectly restored. We will never again do those things we hate. We will never again have a negative thought. OMG (Oh my goodness!)! Can you imagine never again doing anything stupid, mean, or rebellious? Can you imagine never again have a heavy thought, an insecure thought, a confused thought? Celebrate today my brothers and sisters for the Lord is cleansing us and restoring us to the people we were created to be. Hey, there’s hope for us yet