Tell Me Who You Are
We have all sorts of identity issues in our culture today. People are choosing identities, questioning identities, rejecting traditional identities, getting offended over ethnic identities. It’s pretty baffling and disconcerting to some of us older people who never considered identity to be something anyone would choose. Of course, we could choose certain parts of our identities: occupation, religious preference, political party, club affiliations. But these didn’t alter what we would have considered to be someone’s basic, inborn identity.
I remember having a conversation with one of my coworker ministers at University Christian Ministry at U of Alabama. He asked me, “Kelly, if someone said to you, ‘Tell me who you are,’ what would you say?” I was a little perplexed and replied, “I don’t know, Larry. I just consider myself a Christian first and foremost.” He yelled, “That’s right! That’s what I mean. We are Christians and everything else is unimportant next to that, right?” We agreed, and then he explained that he was concerned about some of his fellow African Americans who were Christian, but saw their identity chiefly as black men.
I can understand that because anytime you are in a minority, you are often identified by that distinction. But Larry’s point was important. Any other identifiers should fall way back behind our identity as Christ followers. Once we are in Christ, THAT is WHO we are. We are precious and valuable and loved and eternal and worth everything to HIM. All other identifiers are irrelevant to God. And although they can never be totally irrelevant to us (because of our human fallibility), those other identifiers should have less and less meaning or influence on us. We are ONE in Christ. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
So think in more contemporary terms to make it more personal: There is no longer any black or white or hispanic, Democrat or Republican, LGBTQ or straight/cis, immigrant or native, capitalist or socialist, feminist or traditionalist, environmentalist or logger, local or chain, mom-and-pop or corporation, “elite” or “redneck”, East and West Coast or flyover country, gated-estate or trailer park – in Christ Jesus. These may all be social issues we need to deal with, but they should not be our primary identifiers. And if you are using them to identify other people, you need to stop and reassess that. That leads to objectification, prejudice, discrimination, and eventually contempt. See each person with the dignity of being made in Christ’s image.