Why were you not?

There is an old Hasidic tale that reveals the heart of the eternal question: Who am I?

Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: “Why were you not Moses?” They will ask me: “Why were you not Zusya?”

This is tricky, no?

It is tricky because we learn who we are in relationship. As Parker Palmer says, “There is no selfhood outside of relationship.”

In my early years, as my selfhood was being shaped, I learned who I was based on who I was to my parents, my brother, my friends, and the like.

Over time though, the work that fell to me, and falls to us all, is determining who I am, who the person deep within me is. We must each discover our own identity outside of all the shaping influences in our lives.

For some, that work must begin early in adulthood, for the shaping influences of one’s life were lacking or unacceptable. For others, it can be delayed well into adulthood. Actually, it can be delayed perpetually, to the detriment of the self and the world.

If my identity is always wrapped up in being like or unlike someone else, I may live my whole life without ever knowing who I am.

“Why were you not Zusya?”

What of our beloved church, Agape Baptist Church?

At the end of the age, will we be asked, “Why were you not Lakewood Church? Why were you not Christ Chapel? Why were you not Faith Lutheran?”


The cautionary question would be, “Why were you not Agape Baptist Church?”

We can only ever be Agape Baptist Church.

And…that beings with you only ever being you.

Peace to you,



Why were you not?
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