The cultural mood of the day is that people can and should create their own identity. Anyone who fails to recognize that identity, even unknowingly, is a bigot. It is bewildering.
I can’t imagine being a young person growing up in such an environment. Back in my day, my fellow students were known by what they were good at, or what they enjoyed doing, like sports, music, or academics. Now it’s not what you do, it’s who you are that you must define and enforce.
Cameron McAllister, a young Christian speaker, recently talked with students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was surprised by the questions students asked about meaning, purpose, and the nature of existence. He notes, “Our culture has replaced self-discovery with self-construction. Everybody is expected to create and manage his or her own identity. The pressure that this mindset creates is devastating.”
In the movie “Catch Me,” Leonardo Dicaprio played a teenager that re-imagined himself in various ways. He found success in passing as a pilot, an attorney, and a doctor. What became clear during the course of the movie is that his character was miserably tied up in knots trying to find elusive happiness in his next adopted identity. But no identity could change what he really was, an unhappy, heartless, and destructive young man.
God offers us a new identity in Christ. This identity is secondary to none, including profession and work, sexuality and gender, politics and worldview. Our identity in Christ is crafted by God and defines all others. We are part of something larger than ourselves, the Providential work of our Father who is accomplishing his purposes for creation. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 3:20).
The New Testament is replete with details of our identity. Just in Romans 8 we find that we are alive to God, the dwelling place of His Spirit, and heirs with Christ. God leads us, turns all things to good for us, and calls us to join his purpose. We have no fear and no condemnation. Nothing separates us from God’s great love. The Holy Spirit prays for us and Jesus intercedes for us. In short, we are children of God. To embrace this identity is to remove dividing distinctions, “for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
As Christians our identity is Jesus Christ. He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you…because of me,” prescient and encouraging words since nowadays politically correct culture accepts almost any claimed identity but ours.