Who am I? That’s the question a faded stuffed animal asks himself in the children’s book Nothing by Mick Inkpen. Left in a dusty corner of an attic, the animal hears movers call him “nothing” and thinks that’s his name: Nothing.
Encounters with other animals spark memories. Nothing realizes that he used to have a tail, whiskers, and stripes. But it’s not until he meets a tabby cat who helps him find his way home that Nothing remembers who he truly is: a stuffed cat named Toby. His owner lovingly restores him, sewing on new ears, tail, whiskers, and stripes.
Whenever I read this book, I think about my own identity. Who am I? John, writing to believers, said that God has called us His children (1 John 3:1). We don’t fully understand that identity, but when we see Jesus, we will be like him (v. 2). Just like Toby the cat, we will one day be restored to the identity intended for us, which has been marred by sin. For now, we can understand that identity in part, and we can recognize the image of God in each other. But one day, when we see Jesus, we will be fully restored to the identity God intended for us. We will be made new.
Where do I find my identity? According to Scripture, how does God view me?
In addition to 1, 2, and 3 John, the apostle John also wrote the gospel of John and Revelation. In today’s text he describes how one day we’ll see Christ with our own eyes (1 John 3:1–2). He also includes some mysterious phrases: “What we will be has not yet been made known” and “when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (3:2). Genesis 1:27 says, “God created mankind in his own image.” So, aren’t we already like Him? Yes, and yet not fully. Romans 8:29 tells us we’re being “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son.” God is transforming us through the process of sanctification, and this process won’t be complete until we’re in His presence. On that day, we will be perfect like Jesus and sin will plague us no more.