Who am I? Many social labels profess to answer that question. The answers will likely reference religion, politics, careers, hobbies, passions, and familial roles as well as national, regional and ethnic identities. Each of these categories of identity formation carries a particular way of looking at life.
As Christians it is important to know which identity carries the most weight. Much of the Church is in an identity crisis because we do not know what worldview we are drawing upon to inform our thinking. We often choose a package deal. Sometimes we do not choose at all. We are tossed around by whatever view has the greatest influence over us. It may be our political party, our economic class, or our profession. It may be a mixture of all three and then some.
No person is immune to the strong affiliations brought by family, region, ethnic culture, education, economics, politics, and religion. When we, as Christians, discuss what ought to be the chief influencer of our worldview, the answers are likely not to stray from God, Jesus, or the Bible. But when we get down to it, do our denominational or non-denominational views inform our way of looking at the world to a greater extent than Jesus does? Does our political party affiliation inform our worldview, or does our worldview inform our politics regardless of what line the party is toting? Do our pet doctrines have more weight than the rest of Scripture? Does our interpretation of the end times color how we see everything else in Scripture and the world?
Becoming set apart
How often do we think differently than our identity groups? As Christians we are the called out ones. We are to be the odd thinkers in the group: the people not going the popular direction. How often are we questioning how we think and why we align with one group or another? If we are set apart unto Christ, perhaps we will be the misfits of every identity group.
Finding our true identity
Our identity is Christ. It is not conservativism. It is not liberalism. It is not Americanism. It is not Republicanism. It is not our ethnicity, age, economic status, gender, or profession. All of these things inform who we are, but only Christ informs what each of these are to look like. One cannot say I’m a professional clown, so I won’t be able to control my jovial jesting behavior in social environments. I may, at random, start blowing up balloons and twisting them into animals. No, if this person is a Christian they have self-control which informs their clown profession, not the other way around.
When anything becomes superior to our identity in Christ, that thing becomes disconnected from truth and begins to be something that impresses its image upon us. We cannot define ourselves according to any social construct at the expense of what Jesus says.
No Christian copy cats
When Jesus informs our identity, and consequently our worldview, we are not clones of each other. We each are set free to become little expressions of who Christ is. We shape the world around us according to His nature. We are free to provide creative solutions to the world’s problems that are flowing with life and truth. We aren’t trying to force people to accept solutions that conform to our image, but to freely provide solutions that reveal His image.
Being led by the Holy Spirit
Even more, it is not the Bible that leads us into all truth; it is the Holy Spirit that leads us. The Bible has lots of truth that informs how we live, but if we are going to know what the Father is doing now we are going to have to get our information directly from the Holy Spirit. Only a continual living breathing relationship will suffice if we are going to be free agents of liberty who are at work making the earth look like heaven. We cannot support what we want to do by finding our justification in the Bible. The Bible supports a myriad of very good work that we could have full biblical justification for which to give our lives. But anything that we can do without hearing the Father’s voice is not accomplished in the will of the Father. Even when it is what He designed us for, it lacks the power and authority required when we leave God out of our good plans.
Leading the pack from the inside
We do not need to leave or deny the many affiliations that are deeply a part of our lives, but Jesus is the one who informs what that looks like in our lives. He is the one that draws us away from the group to become influencers of the group instead of people succumbing to its influence. He bids us to come and follow Him. We cannot be fishers of men while entangled in the world’s fishing nets. Jesus cuts those lines so that we can be in the world, but not of it.