Identity Crisis

“This Ezra came up from Babylon.
He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses,
which the L
ORD, the God of Israel had given.”
-Ezra 7:6
NAMES ARE FASCINATING IDENTITY MARKERS that we often take for granted. 

“Jim”, for instance, is a shortened derivative of the name “James”.  It seems to me that, at least within a certain generation, there is an abundance of men named “Jim.”  There was a time in our church’s recent history when there were no less than 5 “Jims” on staff.  When one Jim left our staff in 2007 he was replaced by another Jim the very next week.  Needless to say, that created a challenge for our administrative staff when they answered the phone with someone wanting to speak to “Jim.”  Fortunately, in our culture we have middle and last names and job descriptions which helps sort it all out.

It must have been much the same in Old Testament times during the days of Ezra the Priest, who was part of the first return wave of Israelites from Babylonian captivity.  I found clarity, insight and humor in the detailed manner that Scripture uses to make sure we know exactly which Ezra it was that came back to Jerusalem with the authority and blessing of Artaxerxes king of Persia.

After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah,
the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi,
the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar,
the son of Aaron the chief priest—
this Ezra came up from Babylon.
He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.
The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
                       -Ezra 7:1-6 (NIV – emphasis mine)

Names are actually quite important.  The care given to guard and keep track of one’s lineage in Scripture is meticulous.  Most of us really want to know who we are and where we came from.  That is why geological data bases and organizations exist.  This kind of research has become a passion (or obsession) for many as they work to trace the thread of their ancestry.

Thanks to the work of a 4th or 5th cousin of mine on just such a quest, whose name is also James, I have learned that I am James son of Freeman William, the son of William Peter, the son of William Harvey, the son of James, the son of James, who immigrated to the USA from Canada in 1869.  The “Jim Problem” for me is more than church staff, but generations deep in the Bush family.

Children from broken homes, adoptive homes, troubled homes or disconnected homes often have increased struggles with understanding exactly who they are and where they fit in.  But there is a new and exponentially growing identity crisis due to the number of children known as “donor babies”—children that have been born from donor sperm or egg, often due to infertility.  However legitimate or well-intentioned, many of these kids (some now adults) struggle greatly when they learn they are not the biological offspring of their parents.  Some of them consider themselves the product of “eugenics” and “human trafficking.”1 

The following quote in an article by Mary Jackson for World Magazine is representative of how many of these children/adults feel:  “Alana Newman, who is donor-conceived and runs an online forum called ‘Anonymous Us,’ says, ‘You don’t feel human.  You feel like there’s a doll manufacturer who cranked out 100 dolls and you are just one of them.  You are a product someone bought.’”2   With the continuing disintegration of the nuclear family, Western culture and a solid Judeo/Christian worldview, there is no end in sight to the growing numbers of those desperately trying to discover where they fit in.

Here’s the good news.  You may not be able to trace your ancestry back for more than a couple of generations, you may not like your ancestry, or you may not know your biological father or mother, but you can know something far more important—you can know exactly where you came from. 

The world has worked very hard to hide from you your actual identity, but you were created in the image of Almighty God.  He is the One who formed you in your mother’s womb.  He is the One who gave you red hair (or brown, or blonde or black), dark skin or fair.  He is the One who breathed into you the breath of life and made you a living soul.  Whether you know it or not, He is the One you are desperately trying to find.  Jesus came into the world to help you find your way home.  He is the only One who knows the way back to the Father and can take you there.  Your Father is waiting for you to come home where you will also meet thousands of brothers and sisters who share your spiritual DNA.

1 Jackson, M. (2018, September). Dear Anonymous Dad. World Magazine, volume 33 (18), p. 32.

 2 Ibid. p.35