In order for us to find our identities, we are faced with a double-movement.  Finding who we are not.  Sometimes one finds your identity more directly through indirect means.  Eliminating who we’re not can help us to find who we actually are.  In this weekend’s lectionary reading we find a classic example of this.

John the Baptist answers a series of questions with the phrase, “I am not”. 

Earlier this year, for the first time, I noticed John’s use of the “I am not” statements.  Most of us are familiar with his “I am” statements.  Here John the Baptist and later Peter in an embarrassing account uses the “I am not” phrase.

John’s search of identity starts with the statement, “I am not the Christ”.  He is not the Messiah, and I’m also not the Messiah. 
Neither are you.

 Whatever steps one follow from this point, this is the essential beginning.  Without it one’s identity will be compounded on a false foundation.