In a Teen Focus meeting that I conducted, I asked the following question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” All of the teens commenced giving me answers like, “I want to be a veterinarian”; “I want to be an actress”; “I want to be a dancer”; etc. The answers that they gave were typical to what even adults would answer if I’d posed a question like that to them. People define themselves by what they do or how much they own. We have a very superficial way of measuring our value. We tend to believe that we’re better (or worse) than others because of our level of success in an area. We strive to be thin because it’s the beautiful people who are liked and respected on sight. We strive to have a lot of money because it’s the rich people that have it all together. We strive to be the best at what we do because it’s the smart people who get ahead in life. Is it wrong to want to be smart, beautiful or rich? Of course not! But there lies a problem when you think that being smart, beautiful or rich is who you are. There’s something wrong with the woman who goes for weekly injections of Botox because she doesn’t want to lose the beauty that she’s been known for all of her life. She thinks that if she’s not beautiful, she’s nothing. What about the honor student who gets to college to find out that unlike in high school, he’s not the smartest and there’s a lot more pressure to keep his grades up? He kills himself trying to get good grades because he thinks if he’s not the “smart guy” he’s nothing. What about the rich man who’s earned his fortune playing the stock market only to wake up one morning to find that the market has crashed. He puts a bullet in his head because he believes that without a fortune, there’s nothing else to live for. My question to you today is “What would you do if you lost what you thought defined you?” Are you your money? What if people stopped coveting what you have? Are you your beauty? What if people stopped admiring your face? Are you your skills? What if people stopped being amazed at your talent? How do you measure your value? Are you the clothes that you wear? What if nobody liked your outfits? Are you the amount of friends that you have? What if you were isolated? Are you what you weigh? What if you gained or lost thirty pounds? Are you the clown? What if nobody laughed? When I was a kid, if you wanted to make some extra money for yourself, you could collect used soda bottles and cans and redeem them for about five cents each. (Don’t worry–I have a point. Stay with me!) Of course, the more you collected the more cash you could get. This of course was a bit degrading for most as you had to dig in the trash to get to them. After that, you had to clean them out and sometimes straighten the bent and crushed cans in order for the stores to give you any value for them. Most people did not want to go to all of this trouble to redeem bottles and cans. Well that is the picture of what Christ did for you. He pulled you out of the garbage and cleaned you out to redeem you. Most of us were crushed but He took the time to straighten us out. Why? Because He saw value in you. He saw value that many did not see. He saw value that you yourself didn’t even see. He redeemed you because He loves you. You are valuable to Him. And the thing that I can’t wrap my mind around is that He doesn’t love me because I’m valuable. I am valuable because He loves me! I don’t have to lift a finger, comb my hair or even brush my teeth and He still loves me! Sometimes I look up at Him and almost scream, “Why do You put up with me? I’m so not worth it!” But that’s when I feel His love surround my heart and He says, “Because I love you!” Who am I? I am the righteousness of God! I’m not just beautiful; I’m not just talented; I’m not just smart; I’m not just rich. I am every good and perfect thing because every good and perfect thing comes from Him and that includes me! I am not conceited because I do not boast in myself. I boast in the One who made me. You’re not going to find out who you are by taking an excursion through Europe for the summer. You will not find out who you are by taking a self help class. You will only find out who you are by seeking the One who created you. He is the only One who can tell you who you are and why you were created. I cannot tell you who you are. I can only challenge you to attempt to find out. But this I can tell you: when you become who you are, you are going to set the world on fire!!!