Do you know who you are? Can you explain your identity to others?
DNA testing seems to have become all the rage these days. Various companies take a sample of your saliva (usually), and eventually send you your “results.” Most often your results are displayed in the form of a pie chart with percentages for each “known” geographical/ethnic aspect of your DNA. From these results, people apparently form a new understanding of their identity. In one commercial a man explains how he grew up knowing he was German, but discovered through DNA testing that he was actually Scottish, not German at all! So, he traded his lederhosen for a kilt.
I am not here to denigrate the DNA testing industry. I think it can be enlightening and interesting. I am just wondering if knowing how your DNA reads will alter your own perception of who you are. Also, I am wondering about the whole percentage thing. Another DNA testing commercial depicts a young man who finds out he is six percent Native American; so he is finding new family among his previously unknown roots. Based on a reading of six percent.
As a believer in YHVH, and a follower of Yeshua, I see in scripture that I am grafted into the tree of Israel (Romans 11:17), and I am the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). Further, I am no longer “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:11-13). By grace through faith, I have become Israel (Ephesians 2:8-9). That makes my identity “Israel.” I find this to be a non-negotiable truth.
Besides laying claim to an identity as Israel, my perception of who I am is based on multiple factors, not just DNA, ethnicity, and geography. My “identity pie chart” would also include things like education, gender, age, relationships, experiences, skills, talents, preferences, and more. I might be able to sub-divide my identity into discrete pieces labeled with those various categories of input.
However, my identity as Israel is a 100 % category. Whatever else makes up my identity is superimposed or coexistent with my identity as Israel. All of me is Israel. I cannot break the Israel in me into smaller portions of who I am. I might be able to say that 30% of who I am is based on my education; and perhaps a larger percentage is based on the relationships I have had with others over the years. But the fact that I am Israel supersedes all other factors in the stew of my identity. My whole being is Israel.
In fact, that turns out to be a pretty decent metaphor. Stew. I am a pot of stew. The whole pot of stew is Israel. Chunks of meat in the stew could be my education. Various vegetables could be other elements of my identity, like experiences, skills, and talents. The broth might be the sum of all the relationships in which I have participated. Overall, the stew itself is Israel.
What shall I do with this knowledge of who I am? If I am Israel, does that make me Jewish? Could I be literally descended from the “lost” ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom; i.e., Hebrew but not Jewish? Does that matter?
“Tell them that Adonai Elohim says this: ‘I will take the stick of Yosef, which is in the hand of Efrayim, together with the tribes of Isra’el who are joined with him, and put them together with the stick of Y’hudah and make them a single stick, so that they become one in my hand.’ The sticks on which you write are to be in your hand as they watch. Then say to them that Adonai Elohim says: ‘I will take the people of Isra’el from among the nations where they have gone and gather them from every side and bring them back to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Isra’el; and one king will be king for all of them. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms.’”