Finding Faith: Who are you: Noun or adjective?
By JANIS HEISER
Our lives today can be very busy and fast-paced as we run from place to place and responsibility to responsibility. We can get caught in a never-ending cycle always searching for the best experience or having the most material stuff. No use trying to have the latest and the best especially in technology. You may stand in line for hours to buy the latest phone.
However, as soon as it is bought, it is already being replaced with something newer and better. Your identity can get lost in this fast-spinning world. It is so important that you know who you are and whose you are.
In order for us to truthfully know who we are, not only are our words important, but also their placement. If I were to say to you “here is a big, red, sweet-smelling, fresh apple,” I would have used several adjectives to describe the apple. The adjectives came first. And the noun, the apple came last. However, in Hebrew the noun comes first. Instead, it would be: “an apple big, red, sweet-smelling, fresh.” What is most important is that it is an apple.
In English, we put the adjectives first to create an image of what the apple is and the apple can then lose its true identity; it is an apple.
The same is true of you and me.
If I were to take a few words to try and describe myself to you, I might say: “a senior, short, loving, imperfect, faithful person.” But in Hebrew, I would be “a person, senior, short, loving, imperfect, faithful.” What is mentioned first, is the most significant.
Think about it. What is most important is that I am a person no matter what the adjectives are, positive or negative. Problems arise when we let the adjectives determine who we really are. So you need to ask yourself, “Who are you?”
God created humans in His image as we read in Genesis 1:26-27. However, in the beginning Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3:6-7) and we became separated from God. So God gave us Jesus to bring us back to our original design.
Jesus died and rose from the grave to separate you from your adjectives of sin and to bring you back to oneness with God. We really need to be right spiritually before we can even consider defining ourselves physically.
What is most important is whose you are: with Jesus or without Jesus, before you answer who you are. The choice is yours. All the other adjectives good or bad: trophies, wealth, education, worldly authority, titles, or successes as well as mistakes, hatred, bitterness, stealing or lying, whatever we acquire are second to the fact: with Jesus or without Jesus.
There is an interesting scripture in Matthew 16:13-17. Jesus asked the disciples “who do people say I am?” The disciples responded, some think you are John the Baptist, others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asks the disciples “who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus blesses Peter because Jesus knew Peter was seeing Him as He truly is and not by worldly human standards. You cannot answer correctly who you are until you know who Jesus is and know whose you are.
The principle of nouns and adjectives also applies to how we view and treat others. We tend to value and judge people through our adjectives and then treat them accordingly. But God says in 1 Samuel 7:16:
“…The Lord does not look at things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
To accurately know who others are, we need to get beyond the outside, adjectives and look at the heart, the noun as God sees people. The one God made them to be, the one Jesus died and rose for them to be.
This is why it is so necessary that you bring your negative, bad, sinful and even worldly adjectives to the cross. This includes the adjectives that are true, the ones that you think are true and the ones that others may have put on you. When you do this, you are no longer defined only by adjectives but by the noun of who God made you to be: a friend of God saved by Jesus Christ. It is like getting a new pair of glasses and truly seeing others and us as God does.
Where do you go from here? First, where are you spiritually? Do you know who Jesus is? Have you received Jesus as our Savior? If not, now is the best time.
God says in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Second, take to Jesus all your negative or worldly baggage adjectives and give them to Him. Jesus already died for them. It is amazing. Once you have had this teaching, the Holy Spirit will be reminding you of when you think of yourself in a an adjective instead of a noun. You will view others as God sees them, noun first.
Remember God is a God of grace and second chances. As we learn, you will see positive changes for the better. You are a noun first to God, not an adjective.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Janis Heiser of River of Life Fellowship Church, Lock Haven.