Identity

Who are we?  What are we?  What does it mean to have an identity and where does it come from?  There are many kinds of identity we adopt for various purposes.  But I am referring to our identity as human individuals.  It seems every concept from traditional Christian values is being challenged and abandoned by some today.  This puts American society into what sometimes seems like a kind of values civil war.  I was watching the British science fiction program Doctor Who and it brought up the issue of identity.  Doctor Who is an interesting and often unpredictable character.  He seems to have an unlimited ability to travel through time and space, as a “time lord.”  He lives outs some sort of lifetime and then changes into a different person (referred to as regeneration).  So he had just done this regeneration and he seemed confused.  He looked in a mirror to see what he looked like.  Then he made this statement, “I don’t know where faces come from, sometimes they just pop up.”  We are in a world where people have lost a knowledge of what we are and where our identity comes from.

The Bible gives us a sound basis for a healthy sense of identity and self-image.  This may be one of the best advantages of a Christian worldview.  It means you can have an understanding of who you are that is not merely tied to the temporary superficial things of this life.  It can be a difficult struggle to come to this understanding.  But it is not actually dependent on what we do, but on how God views us.  God is the source of our identity really, but there is part of it that comes from our experience as well.  Some of it is learned and some of it is in our DNA.  Our identity is not just about the family we come from or what we do as a career.  God has a purpose for our life, a place for us to fill.  God is the Creator and we are his creatures.  But we are not just any creature.  We are created designed by God to be imitative of God and able to have understanding of his creation and a personal relationship with Him.  We are not born into this relationship.  We are born outside of it, and need to seek it out and return to it.  We have an innate sinful nature that separates us from God and from being the kind of people we were designed to be.  Through faith in Christ we can return to what we should be in knowing God.

People have always liked to imagine themselves as something different than they really are.  We have stories of superheros, humans who evolve supernatural abilities, and people imagine they can live their life largely without moral responsibility.  But the best life we can have is not in becoming something else, but in finding the place and the role God intended for us to fill.  God knows our DNA, our family background, the place where we grew up, the education we have received, and all about our experience.  Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  God’s image is reflected through both maleness and femaleness.  Part of our sinful nature doesn’t want to accept what we are.  Societal conventions often protect people from the sinful nature.  But when people don’t acknowledge that we have a sinful nature and they don’t believe we are created for a purpose even the most basic principals can be questioned.  Questioning our created natures includes the concept of “gender.”  There is a psychological learned aspect of gender but that does not change the fact that we are made designed to live according to male and female roles and live within certain moral boundaries.  The dangers of crossing over moral boundaries is often ignored by many today.  Created gender differences are now sometimes being ignored.  Ignoring these created differences sacrifices respect for people for an unhealthy concept of permissiveness.  Acceptance of our created natures is being abandoned in favor of false concepts of who and what human beings are.  I think the long term effect of this is mostly to leave people empty and hurting.  I have put much effort and time into trying to learn how to think and live as a Christian and God has brought me a long way from the troubled young man I once was.

The unbelieving world does not know the good they are missing out on.  The more dark and confused the unbelieving world is, the clearer the contrast from Christians who live out their faith.  Reason does prevail sometimes, and the law is often on the side of Christians in America even if the government is not.  So we should live wisely in times like these.  I think of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….”

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