Identity and Purpose

“Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” These are big questions that nearly every one of us asks at some point in our lives. We all seek to know who we are and our place in this world. We want to know how and where we fit into the puzzle. Our sense of identity and purpose may change at different times in our lives. We may experience some sort of identity crisis and begin to question who we are and what we are doing here. This happened to the apostle Peter.

Peter went through several crises regarding his identity and his purpose in life. He began life as a simple fisherman named Simon. In the midst of an ordinary day of fishing, Simon answered the call to follow this new rabbi, Jesus, who called Simon to follow Him. Jesus promised to change Simon’s identity from an ordinary fisherman to a fisher of people (Matt. 4:19). Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (meaning “a rock or stone”). Peter proclaimed that he would follow Jesus to the death, but when this opportunity arose, he denied even knowing Jesus (Luke 22:33, 54-62). In this instance, Peter doubted not only his own identity and purpose, but he doubted Jesus’ identity and purpose as well.

After the resurrection, Peter finally became the faithful “rock or stone” that Jesus had declared him to be. Peter boldly preached, healed, suffered, was imprisoned, and ultimately martyred —all in the name of Jesus. Peter knew who he was. He was confident in his identity, and he knew what his purpose was. Out of his identity, and as a part of his purpose, he wrote a letter to the church. In this letter, Peter addresses our identity and our purpose in Christ. He tells us:

“…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

Who am I, and who are you? We are:

  • Chosen by God
  • Royal priests in His service
  • Set apart
  • God’s special, treasured possession

Just how special, treasured, and valuable are we in God’s sight? Peter answers that question as well. He reminds us that we were not bought with “mere silver or gold, which lose their value…[but] with the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT). Jesus paid the ultimate high price for you. You are of tremendous worth in His sight. You are not worthless. You are not insignificant. He has bestowed upon you this identity described by Peter.

Jesus chose to pay this price to redeem us for a purpose. What is that purpose? After Peter announces who we are, he tells us the purpose of our new identity is so that we “may declare the praises of him who called you.” We are redeemed to sing, shout, and declare the praises of the One who redeemed us. We are created to praise God, to worship Him for who He is and all that He has done for us, and all that He continues to do for us.

Peter says God has “called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9b). Once you were in darkness, but now you are in the light. We sing a story similar to this in John Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace.”

“I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”

In Acts 9, we read about a man born blind that Jesus healed. He also proclaimed this same story. When the Pharisees questioned him after Jesus gave him his sight back, all he could say was:

“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25 NIV).

So what is my story and your story? What has the Lord done for me and for you?

Once, we were… But now, we are… Scripture
Not a people The people of God 1 Pet. 2:10
Had not received mercy Have received mercy 1 Pet. 2:10
Were far from God Brought near to God Eph. 2:13
Darkness Light Eph. 5:8
Alienated from God, enemies of God Reconciled to God Col. 1:21
Slaves to sin Set free from sin Rom. 6:20-22
Dead in our sins Alive with Christ Col. 2:13

 

In this one little verse (1 Pet. 2:9), Peter assures us of our identity in Christ, the purpose of our lives, and the basis of our story –what we relate to others about who we are and what our purpose is. In Christ, we have an identity, a purpose, and a testimony. Peter reminds us of who we are, and that our purpose is to praise the One who redeemed us. He reminds us to share our story of how we used to be compared to how we are now. We need to tell those who are still in darkness, who are blind, dead, slaves to sin who are far from God that they too can be brought into the light, given sight, made alive, set free from sin and brought near to God. 

Who are you? What is your purpose? What is your story?

“…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

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