Who Defines You?
We’ve wrapped up our summer sermon series looking at our Union with Christ. I really enjoyed preparing each sermon as it reminded me of these fundamental truths that I often forget. I hope you also were blessed as we looked at eight things that are ours because we are united to Christ. As I reflected on this series, I realized that ultimately our union with Christ is about our identity. When we become Christian, we take on a new name, that of Christ. The gospel is about taking a new identity, that of the risen King. I think that is pretty awesome!
The message of a gospel-shaped identity is also relevant to the questions so many are asking in our world right now. Who/what defines one's identity? One interesting bit of recent news involved a woman who led an NAACP chapter in Washington. She said that she identified as black, even though she was born to white parents. When it came out she was not biologically black, many decried her as a fraud. But it seems to me there is an inconsistency here. If our culture says that one can choose their sexual identity why can one not choose their racial identity? (As a Christian I do not believe we ultimately get to chose our identity.) Underlying all this is the question of what defines us and who gets to decide that.
Many today believe that humans are basically good. That within each one of us is good and we need to let that out. This is a powerful and attractive cultural narrative. But we should also note that it stands in contradiction to Scriptures teaching that we are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). One implication of this cultural narrative is that we can then trust what feels right to us, because inside us we are good. And so we must do what feels right in order to achieve our full potential. Thus we see so many looking inward to find their identity.
But there is an unintended side effect of this. If my true identity is found wholly within, and not through some human ideal which unites us, a natural segregation of people occurs. This leads to a breaking of community and instead a creation of isolated, homogeneous groups. Diverse communities ultimately disappear because there is nothing to bring unity in diversity. These groups are not true communities. A true community has something in common. I think this is why so many people struggle with loneliness today.
One aspect of the gospel is that Christ is building a new community in him. And this brings us back to our union with Christ. This community is based off the ideal human, Christ. He is the supreme example of what it means to be human. The church is this new community. It’s a community that is welcoming to all who would take on Christ’s identity. It’s a true community because we all share something in common, our identity in Christ. It’s a community that can celebrate diversity because we see diversity in the one, triune God: father, son and spirit. It’s a community with a united purpose and mission, to invite everyone on our journey to know Christ above all else.