Who Are You?

By Joel Hess


‘Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, who is Encarnacion?’ Nacho Libre asks his crush, who happens to be a nun, in one of my favorite movies, “Nacho Libre.”  She answers,

“Well, my favorite color is light tan. My favorite animal is puppies. I like serving the Lord. Hiking, play volleyball…”

Who are you!?  is the question of the day and has been for some time – Whether we pretend to ask it sipping our proletariat lattes in Intelligentsia downtown Chi town or we are forced to answer it as we are backed into a corner by the events that have become our ‘life’.


This is the question poets, painters, and songwriters have eloquently attempted to answer for eons yet at best their work is like staring in a box to see an eclipse.  And sadly we are all too familiar with the millions of dollars made by the many cheesy shallow self-help coffee table sophists sporting perfect haircuts and Botox smiles. Everyone except Wayne Dyer (because he has no hair) who brilliantly can make no sense at all for an hour, yet hold the attention of middle class middle aged Eves who probably have attended a creative writing course or two at their local community college and who probably daydreamed in that same class about holding their breath for too long or swimming too deep  while the pony-tailed professor, whose half hopeful smile betrays his own disappointment,  pretends to understand and yes wholeheartedly agree with Pynchon and Eco on the meaning of a thing.  Like Germans looking for someone to tell them what and how to do it they allow Wayne to lie to them about their god inside while images of butterflies and still waters disguise the wizard in the background.

Salesmen always begin with flattery.

Who are you? It is a question with which even a confidant preacher man must routinely wrestle during those dark nights of the soul that St. John of the Cross describes.

It is the question the first Wayne Dyer asked Eve who may have already been a little dissatisfied with her identity (a midlife crisis at 1 day old?) as she believes her new lover and takes a big juicy bite out of that beautiful ripe pomegranate letting the seeds scatter recklessly on her naked body.

And when she opened her eyes, she simultaneously shut them because she did not like who she was, what she had become. She was even afraid of herself, her husband, let alone her Creator.

Eve - Anna Lea Merritt

And of course Satan asks the same question of the second Adam, the second sinless person to have ever stepped on this cursed sod.  Who are you?

Satan poses, “If you are the Son of God…” desiring Jesus to doubt His Missio Dei even for a moment as his stomach pulsated with the pangs of hunger and his feet were bleeding from the stony ground. He already could feel the piercing nails as he caught the icy possessed stares of untrustworthy men, everyone one of them.

Nikos Kazantzakis wondered in his controversial book, “the last temptation of Christ” whether Jesus himself may have struggled throughout his life even on the cross with His identity.  Yes, I love the book and the movie.  Not because it accurately depicts the true Jesus. It does not pretend to.  Kazantzakis believed that while Jesus did not sin, he thought about sinning.  Scripture would disagree.  Still Kazantzakis brings out the battle Jesus won not just on the cross but by resisting temptation.  Kazantzakis conjectured that Jesus’ ultimate temptation was to be an ordinary guy! Hmmm


Maybe, yes maybe Jesus questioned His identity, as angels held their breath, in the garden of Gethsemane. Well no he didn’t really, but makes a good article in one of a million theology journals.

Really though, without hesitation, Jesus responds to Satan, to dumb disciples, to the chief priests and the cursing thief on the cross, like His Father to Moses – I freaking AM!

I am the Son of God lying bloody beaten on a murder’s cross.  I am the One starving in a desert, swatting flies from my tired sweaty cheeks.  I AM the resurrection and the Life FOR YOU.

Who are you? Everyone wants to tell you.  From arm chair evolutionists, pop psychologists, slave masters, Job’s friends and politicians.  But they do not know you.

Only God who made you can tell you.  You are Adam’s son, a filthy poseur like a flesh eating zombie, corrupted and broken. You are dust.  You were lost because you had shut your eyes. Ahhh, but you are loved.  You are washed and cleaned.  You are born again in the blood of Christ.  You are forgiven.  You are a resuscitated Adam in every way.  Finally in Christ you are who you were meant to be.    He who IS has tied His destiny to yours just as resolutely as He denied the tempter.  Your identity is permanently bound to His, who was, who is, and is to come.