Struggling with our faith, answering the 4 Questions: Part 2
Marty Kohlwey, Lutheran High School Director of Campus Ministry, dives into the 4 questions we think are vital for all LuHi students to explorer.
BY Marty Kohlwey
Answering the 4 Questions
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- Is there any hope?
- Is there truth?
We all wrestle with these 4 questions. But as we learned in the last post, they are especially relevant to teenagers who are trying to find identity, meaning, purpose, direction, and hope in their lives. Let's dive into each question to learn the answers from a Christian worldview.
Who am I?
On what do you base your identity? What makes you who you are? How you answer this question speaks to what we really believe.
I know who I am: a mess. I feel like a failure. I can’t make this life work. When I realized this, I am thankful Jesus was there to show me it was ok to be a loser (Luke 9:24, 19:10). He showed me I am a Child of God (1 John 3:1), chosen by Him, Holy and dearly loved (Col. 3:12, 1 Peter 2: 9). Ironically, when we accept ourselves as broken and come face to face with our mess of a life… we find out who we really are. Lost but found, broken but healed.
In a book called I Hurt Inside, Ralph Underwager reveals whenever we feel we need to compare ourselves to others or be different than what we are, we are under the law. Satan bombards us with the temptation to compare ourselves each day. Comparison and competition breed despair over unmet expectations and goals so we beat ourselves up for not measuring up.
When we find ourselves on our knees in this predicament, the amazing news is that there is someone bigger and better than us who has solved this issue for us. Someone who meets the standards of perfection and of God on our behalf: Jesus. He offers us a very personal friendship with the One who made us, saved us, and lives with us.
Read these knowing they apply to you!
- He knows me by name. It is engraved in His hand with the nails of the cross. (Isaiah 49:16)
- I am worth the life of the Son of God. He died so I could have an amazing relationship with Him. (Galatians 2:20, John 10:10b, 1 Corinthians 4:20)
- I am dearly loved. I am a beloved son or daughter. (John 15:9, 1 John 3:1a)
- I belong to Him. He chose me to be His. (John 15: 16)
- I am forgiven. Being an eternal God not hindered by time, He knows my past, present, and future. This means he has forgiven all my sin. As Brennen Manning says in his book “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus”, “…he expects more failure from you than you expect from yourself.” All my sin, failures, and the mess I have made of my life is covered by grace. (1 John 1: 8-9)
- I have been made new, a new creation. I am now being transformed by the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:1-2)
- He has made me different than anyone else with gifts and talents unique to me. I can share what He has done for me. (1 Peter 4: 10, Colossians 3: 17, 23)
Why am I here?
Another way to ask this is, "What is my purpose?" or "Does my life have meaning?" Most people don’t really know what their purpose in life is. This question goes beyond our career and our place in our family, physical talents, and academic abilities. I have abilities and talents, but I am not always sure I am using them the way I should. I still ask myself what I am going to do when I grow up, and I am 61!
We were made to love and to be loved. We long to share our deepest selves with someone who understands us. We were made to join the beautiful, loving relationship between a Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit!
We are made to worship. In fact, we all worship something. All day long, we worship sports and celebrities. We consume ourselves with the latest news of what is going on with the people we idolize. 1 Peter 2 tells us our worship is tied to our identity. This is no surprise. For example, we identify with a team and then can’t wait to talk about it when they win big. Others seek to fill this need with their career. Often parents find their meaning and identity in their children.
Until we find the One who we were made to have as the source of our identity and meaning (Created in His Image), we will feel lost and empty lacking an eternal purpose. We need an eternal God. Please read 1 Peter 1: 3-25 as it discusses this more in-depth.
Is there any hope?
Atheists can come easily to the conclusion that there is no hope when they are honest with themselves. Unfortunately, this is where our society is pointing us - to a world with no creator, no meaning, and no hope. This undercurrent, created by the rejection of God, can lead to despondency. If there is no God, then there is no meaning beyond this life and no hope beyond the grave.
Or, could it be that there is a God we can’t understand because He is bigger than us? Many times as a father, I had to make choices that my children couldn’t understand. Some of my decisions were best for them even though they did not understand what I was doing at the time. Some decisions were best for others and caused my children pain as a result. We are in a very similar situation with God. We can not see the whole picture now (1 Corinthians 13: 12), but it will be clear one day.
The flip side of this hopelessness is joy in a never-ending hope. When we are in love with our special someone, hope abounds. The future is exciting! Adventure is around every corner. That is our life in Christ. Even in tumultuous times, we can be confident He will work things out for our good (Romans 8:28) and that life has meaning.
I have chosen to fill my day with reminders like these. My attitude is profoundly affected by what my mind is taking in all day long so I must guard my heart and mind (Proverbs 4:23). Through tough times, depressed moods, prideful moments, or harsh criticism, I must go back to remembering who He is and who I am in Him.
What is truth?
When Pilot asked Jesus this very question, he probably didn't know he was stating one of the most profound questions of our current day. Largely, our society doesn't know how to answer this question so we've come to the conclusion there is no objective truth. What is true for you may or may not be true for me and that's ok.
But is that ok? Is it ok to not know what's right or wrong? If there's no truth, life gets exceedingly more complicated, confusing, and depressing. Without truth, we can't answer questions about justice or goodness.
Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) As CS Lewis says, this kind of statement shows us that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. In my Senior Theology classes, we dig into Scripture to examine if the Christian worldview is worth believing and if Jesus can be trusted. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can be confident that Jesus isn't a liar or a crazy man but He is God incarnate and not only does He give us truth through His Word but He embodies truth.
In the face of difficult choices and confusion, I find great comfort in knowing that I can know truth and have a relationship with the person who is truth: Jesus. See John 8 for more of Jesus' words about truth.
I hope you have gained a deeper understanding of the value of spending time discussing these 4 questions with our students. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this post or the last one, feel free to contact me at Martin.Kohlwey@lhsparker.org.
Originally published in 2016, updated in 2023.
Helping Students Become Leaders in Christ
At the heart of Christian education should be deep roots in Scripture and nurturing students' faith. So what does discipleship look like at LuHi?
My Redeemer Lives - An Easter Devotion
Director of Campus Ministry at LuHi, Marty Kohlwey, reflects on Job, sacrifices, and what it means that our Redeemer lives in this Easter devotion.