In the BBC programme “Pointless”, Alexander Armstrong asks the contestants in turn, “Tell me all about yourself”. It really is a pointless question, because two or three sentences cannot give an answer. Invariably, people will describe themselves in terms of the jobs and hobbies they are involved in, taxi-drivers, teachers, doctors, or marketing executives. Even a vicar or two, I seem to remember. And the same with hobbies – some people have more unusual hobbies like bee keeping or lepidopterology, which they expound with a pride not exhibited by the readers or film watchers. But it doesn’t say much about themselves. What they are really like.
But if asked the same question as a Christian, what do I say? My favourite is, “I’m a pilgrim, traveling through the highways and byways of life, heading for a Heavenly home when my assignment to Planet Earth has come to an end.” But even then it doesn’t say much about who I am; rather it says what I’m doing. “Who am I?” is a much more complex question to answer. I have children and grandchildren, so I’m a father and grandfather. If I walk to the Co-op, I’m a shopper. If I then make some soup, I’m a cook. In a sense, I’m constantly reinventing myself, changing who I am in this terrestrial kingdom. But thankfully in God I am special and unchanging. Because God is unchanging, and I am His son. I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). I am loved (Galatians 2:20). I am precious (Isaiah 43:4). I’m created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). And there are many more Scriptures that describe who I am in God’s kingdom.
Sadly, a citizen of the worldly culture in which we live doesn’t really know much about who they are, because they have no absolute values on which to base their conclusions. And so many people lapse into negative thoughts about themselves. They compare their waist size with an airbrushed model in a woman’s magazine and conclude they are fat, bringing on depression. Social media pushes ideas that are unattainable, bullying the more vulnerable. Advertising exposes our lack of sufficient funds to buy the next “must-have”. And so on. And the clamour of so much stress and conflict hitting our minds can induce confusion and mental illness, and lead to a conclusion that we are without identity and worth. But all the more reason why we should be sure of our identities in Christ, so that we can expose the shortcomings of the worldly kingdom with our testimonies, promoting the wonder of a kingdom, whose King took on the culture of His time and showed us a better way.
But I smile when I think of the look on Alexander’s face, if I said, “I’m a pilgrim…”. But don’t think I’ve lost my senses – I have no desire to appear on Pointless.