Sunday Shorts are a brief rewind of Kaleo's weekly gatherings intended to equip the kommunity to live into what we're exploring together throughout the week.
I AM ____________.
Exodus 2:23-25, 3:1-15, 4:10-17, John 8:58
Names affirm existence and identity. They also provide a degree of uniqueness for a person in the midst of the larger community. In some cultures naming takes place after a time of observing a child after birth, and the name given is connected with what the child is like. In some of those same cultures names can also be changed over time. Changed to reflect the experiences and nature of the named one. Names matter. They are part of our story. And the same can be said about the One commonly referred to as God.
I AM WHO I AM
God has a name, albeit one that is unique and mysterious. But like all names it says something, actually quite a lot, about his nature and personality.
In the Exodus texts listed above we encounter this name. A name shared with Moses, whom God has chosen to join him in his work of liberating Israel. And we learn this name as we listen in on Moses and God’s conversation. A conversation that reveals Moses’ fear, doubt, and anxiety as he wrestles with God’s choosing of him for this task. A conversation that also reveals God’s patient, affirming and equipping response towards Moses.
…Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
“I am who I am.”
What kind of response and name is that?
At first glance this might seem to be dismissive or strange.
But if we slow down and consider that response along with the rest of what God says in the text above, we discover something absolutely marvelous.
On one hand “I am”, which in Hebrew is the verb “to be”, speaks of God’s transcendence. It clearly articulates God’s mysterious and eternal nature. God is saying, “I am, always have been and always will be. I am who I am.” On the other, though, this term in the Hebrew sounds a lot like the more personal name for God, Yahweh. And the personal nature of this is exemplified quite clearly when God says not only am I the God of your ancient ancestors, but I am “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In other words he’s saying, I am the God of those specific people. I am that personal. And I am and will be the same with you.
Even when you’re afraid. Even when you’re full of doubt. Even when you’re anxious. Even when you have no idea how God’s mission of redemption could actually become reality.
I am with you.
And that is the life that is ours, all of ours. Because while Moses experienced this wonderful moment of God’s self-revealing, we have been given an even clearer view in Jesus. The visible image of the invisible God. And the One who identifies himself as this same “I am” in our small text from John 8.
So take heart, open your ears to hear and your eyes to see, because the One we often refer to as God, which while being a proper noun is also a rather generic identifier, has told us his name, and through revealing it is saying to us:
I AM ________________.
I am aware and empathetic [We see this in our texts, in God’s response to Israel’s slavery, and also in the life and work of Jesus.]. I see what’s happening with you and the world, and the ache you feel for all to be right. Where do you think your ability to experience this comes from? It’s from me, as I am the first to see and empathize. With you. With everyone.
I am acting for the good and rescue of you all [Notice in our texts and those that follow them that God liberated all of Israel, not merely one group or tribe or family. Along with this, notice Jesus’ liberating work through his life, death and resurrection for the whole world, which the Gospel and New Testament writers speak of.] Not only am I aware and full of empathy. I am active and working for your liberation. Working for the liberation of all. Please notice that. Please resist any tendency towards thinking my love and action are only for you and those like you. I am for all, including you, but also beyond you [It seems that Jesus is confronting this to some degree in John 8. The people he’s responding to there had become rooted in a faith based upon their history and nationalism, and thus failed to see the One who was with them and what he was on the scene to invite them into.].
I am sending and equipping you all as agents of deliverance and restoration. I know that you have your moments of insecurity, worry and doubt. I still choose you. I know what you will need for this kind of life and will gladly and generously provide it [We see this exemplified in the narrative that finds Moses protesting God’s choosing of him, and God’s response to him.]. And I will accomplish my plan to liberate and reconcile people. Those you’re planted among. Those I’m sending you to.