Who Am I?

Jane Blasio’s search for her birth parents led her to discover a dark secret. Soon the newspapers picked up the story, and the whole world knew.

In 1997, Blasio discovered that Dr. Thomas Hicks had arranged for as many as 200 illegal adoptions during the 1960’s and earlier. Often he led a birth mother to believe her baby died, then he sold the baby to families from a distant state. Blasio was one of those babies.

Paul Reymann saw the story and noticed some similarities. He, too, had been adopted. His birth certificate listed Hicks as attending physician. He learned that his parents had traveled out of state, paid the doctor in cash, and received him at the back door of the clinic.

Using DNA testing, Reymann located his birth father who welcomed a relationship with the son he didn’t know existed. Reymann said, “He could have just swept all of (his past) under the rug and I’d still be out there wondering. He is a man of great character, strong faith in the Lord and I just knew that everything was OK when I hugged him.”

Blasio’s and Reymann’s converging stories have a common theme: the search for identity. That’s not a quest unique to adopted people. “Who am I?” is the question we all ask in some way because it is connected to ultimate meaning. Today’s world offers a menu of answers. Your identity can be sexual, political, occupational, or digital. You can even take a personality test to “discover who you really are.” These identities are incomplete at best, flawed at worst.

You will never know who you are meant to be if you remain alienated from your Creator. Jesus Christ came to fix that. You are created in the image of God but the image is marred by sin, which separates you from God. By faith in Christ, you are re-created and restored. God has “reconciled us to Himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18). The result is that sin no longer defines you. “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not your own. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

It is touching that Reymann found peace in the embrace of his birth father. How much more your Heavenly Father offers you a place in the family! “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 Jn 3:1).

As for Blasio, her birth mother died before they could meet. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her identity. She writes, “If there’s one thing in life I’m sure of…it’s that God loves you and knows who you are and has known you from the beginning.” She has found the answer to the question. Have you?

Honest Unbelief

If you do not identify as a Christian, have you ever thought about why you don’t? Perhaps you haven’t thought about it at all. Please let me help you with that.

Maybe you’re like the non-believer who responded on social media to the disconcerting things happening today. He said, “I’m coming out.  I’m officially Bible-curious.” That’s honest truth-seeking.  Only God knows what makes a seeker out of a skeptic or cynic.  A skeptic is unsure what is true; a cynic is not interested in what is true. You can be either or both.  You can also be changed.

You live by what you believe is true whether you realize it or not. Consider the following truth claims: People are basically good.  All paths lead to god. Nature is god. Science has all the answers. The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Follow your heart. People wrote the Bible and their thoughts are no better than mine. Jesus is a mythical figure. Any of these would contribute to living by something other than the truth about Jesus Christ.

You may object, “If Christianity is true, why doesn’t everyone see and embrace it?” The answer lies at the heart of the Christian gospel. Humans are good at deceiving ourselves.  St. Augustine wrote, “Because man hates to be proved wrong, he will not allow himself to be convinced that he is deceiving himself.  So he hates the real truth for what he takes to his heart in its place.” You can find evidence for the real truth about God in history, science, logic, and changed lives.

Since “the heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jer. 17:9), the solution is what the Bible calls being “saved.” It says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

To be saved means that “you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). It means you have a new identity!

How do you embrace the grace, forgiveness, renewal, and eternity the gospel offers? Believe in a Person.  “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Do that, and your honest unbelief gives way to saving, life-changing faith.

Keeping Freedom

The recent fireworks and our celebration of Independence Day has me dwelling on the state of affairs in America. Not current events, but the state of our thinking about the underpinnings of our freedoms. Here’s my hypothesis: Christianity can exist without freedom, but American freedom cannot exist without Christianity.

Let’s dispense with the first part of my hypothesis. Christianity is growing rapidly in China which does not allow freedom of speech, association, and religion. Christianity is expanding in the Middle East, a reaction to the more oppressive forms of Islam. The number of Christians in Iran has grown from five hundred to one million since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. They certainly don’t have American-style freedoms.

American freedoms depend on Christian morality. Here are thoughts on that from three non-believers.

Agnostic political scientist Charles Murray believes America needs a religious revival. He says, “Highly secular societies are going to break down. If you could have a resurgence of what used to be known as a religious Great Awakening — we’ve had three of them at least, maybe four — those had very good effects. Those could change the behavior of the population in very positive ways. And that’s going to be great if that happens. If you have a new upper class that joins in a resurgence of the Judeo-Christian traditions, the United States could be great.”

Stanford University professor Niall Ferguson says, “I was brought up as an atheist. It is as much a faith as Christianity. I’ve come to see as a historian that you can’t base a society on that. Indeed, atheism, particularly in its militant forms, is really a very dangerous metaphysical framework for a society. I’m a big believer that with the inherited wisdom of a two-millennia old religion, we’ve got a pretty good framework to work with.”

Atheist Richard Dawkins likes to quote Hillaire Belloc’s poem for children. “Always keep a-hold of Nurse for fear of finding something worse.” Dawkins’ point is that an escaping child is to her caregiver what a godless country is to freedom. Both risk losing what they need most. Dawkins wants Christianity not because he believes it’s true, but because nations need a moral underpinning.

America is afflicted these days with unrestrained people who “professing to be wise…became fools” (Rom. 1:22). They cannot see that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Fortunately, even non-believers recognize foolishness when they see it, and prefer a righteous nation that benefits from its Christian underpinnings. Truth is, America needs Christianity far more than Christianity needs America.

Benjamin Franklin once said America is “a republic, if you can keep it.” We keep our republic free by being a moral people, one nation under God.

Washington’s Prayer

At the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington’s desire was to retire to his estate on the Potomac River.  I can see why. Mount Vernon is situated on a picturesque and productive land, quite suitable for a retired soldier and gentleman farmer.

In his 1783 letter to the governors of the states resigning as commander of the continental army, he expressed hope for the country’s future. He wrote that his prayer was that Americans would “demean ourselves, with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”

In modern English, he was saying that for the new country to work, its citizens must act toward each other with the love, humility, and peace that Jesus modeled. For the lives of 25,000 American soldiers not to be lost in vain, the new nation must succeed.  To that end he believed we would do well to imitate Jesus.  We still need that, and Christians can lead the way.

Jesus loved by caring for poor, disenfranchised, and suffering people. Government social programs are no substitute for that kind of love. Christians still do heavy lifting in this area and do it with a personal touch.  Jesus also loved by telling the truth. American culture is courting destructive ideologies and Christians must speak the truth in love, and not repeat popular deceptions.

Jesus, God the Son, showed humility by stepping into the world He made. He put others before Himself, even unto death on the cross. Christians model humility by seeing the value of every person and respecting all people as God’s image-bearers. Not every disagreement is an argument that must be won. “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

We need a peaceful state of mind. Jesus lived a peaceful lifestyle motivated by a higher purpose. Through Him we are reconciled to, and have peace with God.  We are also reconciled to one another (Eph. 2:14ff). Racial, political, and interpersonal strife cannot coexist with the peace of Christ.

Washington wrote, “I bid a last farewell to the cares of office and all the employments of public life.” Six years later, he consented to be the first President of the United States under the new constitution.  If there is a lesson in his change of heart it is that a citizen’s duty is never done.  Even more, a Christian’s duty is never done because our fellow citizens will always benefit from the love, humility, and peace that we have from Christ Jesus.

“Holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other” (Col. 3:12-13).