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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Identity Crisis

We humans here in the 21st century appear to be in the midst of an identity crisis. Now, to be fair, there are a lot of available identities. "Father", "mother", "family member" (as in "I'm one of the Joneses."), your job, and on and on. So why is it that so many of today's identity labels revolve around sex. These days a key self-identifier seems to be "gay" or "heterosexual", as if the gender with which we want to have sex identifies us. Is that really the best we can do? Is that really even signicant?

So we step up. "I'm an American" or the citizen of some other country. That's much more important. Because your geography and place of birth is significant. Or is it?

We were given some pretty impressive credentials from God. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:27) In God's version, being what is derisively termed "binary gender" is an identity assigned by God -- male and female. More importantly, "in His own image" is an irrevocable identity. On this one God based His call for the death penalty for murder (Gen 9:6). "A divine image bearer" is a much higher identity than some meager "sexual orientation" or your particular citenzenship.

We like to think that our "higher" identity is "Christian". You know, "follower of Christ". Except that the term barely means that anymore ... and it originally appeared to be intended as an insult to "the followers of the Way." In our day, of course, it can refer to anyone from an ardent follower of Christ to someone who lives in the non-Muslim section of town. Can we do better?

I came across a new one. Or a very old one. Back in Genesis, God made Abraham a promise. God told him He would make his children as numerous as the stars (Gen 15:5). Further, through his offspring, "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 18:18). In Romans and in Galatians Paul refers to this promise. In Romans he says, "They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel." (Rom 9:6). Sounds like double talk, but he goes on to say, "It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants." (Rom 9:8) In the Galatians passage (Gal 4:22-28) Paul uses the parallel of Sarah and Hagar. Sarah and Hagar both had a son, but Sarah was the free woman and Hagar was not. When God promised Abraham a son, He did not mean Hagar's son, Ishmael. He meant the promised son, Isaac. Paul goes on to say, "And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise." (Gal 4:28)

What a concept! "Children of the promise." Do you catch the implications? We are "children of God". We aren't these kind of children by human effort. We are His children because He promised it. It means that if you are a Christ-follower, a born-again believer, that when God promised Abraham that his descendants would number like the stars, He had you in mind. It means that genuine believers aren't random and aren't some accident. We are children of the promise. A sure thing. A promise from God before He even formed the chosen people, Israel. Now that is an identity!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

imagine the child lost in the city, with no parents to guild him/her. wandering about looking for a place called home. all others shun this child because the child has no status or affluence. the child is outcast from all other social circles because it is different. the world has no love for the child because it is not of the world. neither can the world understand what the child is saying because the child speaks in a foreign language that is spiritual in nature. the child does not know where he/she is from. and most of the time he/she is quite discouraged about who they are. Until,,, one day the child discovers it's true identity,that this child has a pedigree from before the foundation of the earth, that he/she is the Child of the Promise. Predestined to be conformed to the image of the King of Kings.
one of the Elect, born for the purpose of sharing in the Divine nature of God. oh what manner of love is this... that He/she should be called a child of God.