“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3).
The criminal band watched with dread at the menacing movements of… something robed in shadows. The sound of its movement was indistinguishable—in sync even—from the waling l-train in the distance and the wind careening between the buildings of the corrupt city in the dark. But then, then the darkness lashed out. In horror, the gang of offenders realized it wasn’t something in the void. It was someone! But if they felt a split second of relief it was gone in an instant as they froze, stunned by the violence—draped in armor and cowl with a flowing cape like the waves into Gotham City harbor. The gang of thugs all inched backward in terror watching their leader subdued by justice and as the reluctant second-in-command spoke what they all were all thinking, fearful of being next. “Who are you”? And then the night spoke back: “I’m vengeance” (The Batman. Warner Bros. 2022).
Crafted into stories we read and watch and hear in songs are narratives that try teaching us who we are or what we should become. Every person I’ve ever met has either asked or answered, “Who am I”? The question demands an answer because what flows from our conclusion will one way or another seek to define who we are and what we do about it. 1 Peter, in ultimate truth delves into this very topic.
My oldest daughter, Elle’s middle school theme of the year at Zeeland Christian School is: Who am I? Who are we? Who is He? I love it. It reminds me of my middle school days when my father would speak his chosen reminder, “Remember who you are,” as I left the house. I say the same words to Eden and Elle today. It’s funny how we perceive things in real time and how we remember them later in God’s hindsight. When my dad would say it, I thought he meant, “don’t screw up because you’re better than that.” Maybe that was part of it, but he also meant something I didn’t understand or fully begin to apply until later in life. “’You belong, body and soul, in life and in death to your faithful savior, Jesus Christ,’ and he has called you to live out a special assignment” (Heidelberg Catechism. 1563). That’s what he really meant.
Unlike in the stories of fictional heroes, the Apostle Peter wrote to real believers to remind them that even the very worst of persecution should not define them as God’s children (1 Pet. 1:14). And he calls us, too as believers to “get our minds right,” to be ready to live as His chosen in spiritual battle (vv. 13, 14-16). What we do in life and how we respond to life—fair or not—will point others to an answer to the question of who we are, to who they are. Physical suffering. Mental suffering. Our falling short. But in life and in death we have a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). On our own, “the world, the flesh and devil,” just may convince us of who we are not (Eph. 2:1-3). But living life in Christ—our living hope—we have an identity that just may show the world what He can do. So, maybe we should remind each other each day: “remember whose you are.”