It seems to me that 1 Peter 2:9-12 addresses a vital dynamic about how we live: Who we understand ourselves to be significantly shapes the way we live, and the way we live significantly shapes the health and well-being of our soul.

Charles Martin’s novel, Chasing Fireflies, tells the story of an abandoned young boy and a search for his mother and a search for his sense of identity. After a visit from one woman, Martin writes of the visit between the boy, who would not speak but would only write in his notebook, and the man who was caring for him temporarily:

“Sketch shuffled out of the house wearing his Spidey pajamas. He sat down next to me, his notebook on his lap. He scribbled quickly and held it up for me.
“WHO WAS THAT LADY TODAY? [He wrote in his notebook.]
“‘She’s a momma…looking for her son.’
“He wrote without looking at the page. AM I?
“His question pressed me against the railing. Men spend their lives asking Who am I when the real question is Whose am I? I don’t think you can answer the first until you’ve settled the second. First horse, then cart. Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging.” (p. 233)

Peter addresses the question of “Whose am I?” in 1 Peter 2:9, describing us as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”

From there Peter moves on to discuss how we are to live. Once we know whose we are, he calls us “to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

When we don’t know whose we are, we tend to live out of desperation, trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and/or to others, or we give up. Low self-identity leads to low self-esteem which results in some bad actions on our part. Brennan Manning comments, “Self-hatred always results in some form of self-destructive behavior.” Peter describes our sinful behavior as that which wages war against our soul.

Not knowing who we are and whose we are significantly shapes how we live, and how we live significantly shapes the health and well-being of our soul. One of the wisest things I can do in life is to get to know who I am by discovering whose I am so that I can begin to live in ways that are more conducive to the health and well-being of my soul.


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