OUR IDENTITY 3-26-17
March 26, 2017
Have any of you seen the movie, “Identity”, which came out in 2003? John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, and Rebecca DeMornay were in it. They played four of the 10 main characters, each of which were killed one by one in, or near, a motel after being stranded there on a rainy night (drawing on Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”), and ironically they all shared the same birthday. What you don’t know until the second half of the movie is that the hotel scenes are actually being played out in the mind of a man on trial for murder, as the psychiatric drugs he is on are trying to rid his mind of his multiple personalities. In the end, the murderous personality, that of a young boy, ends up being the only one left. There is a much newer movie out that also features dissociative identity disorder. I haven’t seen it, but it is titled “Split”, and the main character has 23 different personalities, as well as a final 24th personality called “The Beast”.
Having a sense of identity is important, and struggling with not knowing who you are, even if not taken to the extreme of dissociative identity disorder and multiple personalities, can lead to other lesser mental and emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. We all ‘wear many hats’ (or in my case ‘shoes’), but under most circumstances manage to juggle our various roles in life, and still maintain our core self. Yet I’m certain there are days when even the best of us, have a difficult time shifting between our various outer personas.
If anyone among us here should have a real identity crisis, it should be me. I have had 2 first names, 2 middle names, and 6 last names – since I was adopted, and then married four times. But my names don’t matter. I have also held a wide variety of jobs in my lifetime – insurance clerk, personal secretary, ballet teacher, dog breeder, manager of a newspaper agency, owner of a Christian gift and book store, administrative assistant, and my favorite - pastor. But my professions don’t matter (well, except for the current one, which isn’t really a ‘profession’, but a calling). What does matter is where I stand with the Lord. My identity is found in Christ. I am a child of God, adopted into His family through the shed blood of Christ. I do not know who my birth father is, but my identity isn’t dependent upon that. God is my true Father and I am His daughter. My adoptive father always wanted me to be perfect, but I never quite achieved the level of perfection he wanted. However, God sees me as absolutely perfect, because He sees me through Jesus, who removed every sin and imperfection from me and nailed it to the cross.
Yes, a Christian’s true sense of identity should be through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Your old sinful self is no longer who you are. The Holy Spirit within you leads you to live a life of holiness and of submitting to God’s will – not like a slave forced into labor – but of a child who is being brought up to inherit the riches of His Father when he attains maturity, just as we heard in our 2nd Scripture reading (Galatians 4:1-7).
As we mature we become more and more like Christ. It maybe doesn’t seem like it yet. When we are babies, we don’t look like carbon copies of our parents. But as we grow we start to appear more and more like them. Just as when we are new Christians, sometimes called ‘baby Christians’, we don’t yet resemble Christ; but as we grow spiritually, others can see Christ in us, and we ourselves notice that we think and act differently than we did before. And this is what will draw others to Christ – by seeing the change in us. It will also be what drives away some that preferred the ‘old’ us, because they are among those whom the Bible says, “loved darkness instead of light” (John 3:19). “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8).
And all those who have accepted Christ belong to the family of God, as His beloved children. We identify as members of this family - first within our individual churches, where we meet with our sisters and brothers of Christ to encourage one another, lift each other up in prayer, worship together, and share our hopes and joys and sorrows. Then as members of our greater denomination, in our case the United Methodist Church, and ultimately as members of the Body of Christ. And as members of the Body of Christ, we each serve a unique purpose, none more important than any other. Each part must acknowledge, respect, and cherish every other part in order for the Body to function effectively. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink. For the body does not consist of one part, but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you.’ Nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we consider less honorable, we treat with greater honor. And our unpresentable parts are treated with special modesty, whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God has composed the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
So each of you remember that you are child of God! You are loved, you are important, and you are part of a family. So let’s rise and lift up our voices in our closing hymn, “We are the Church”! Amen. child of God! You are loved, you are important, and you are part of a family. So let’s rise and lift up our voices in our closing hymn, “We are the Church”! Amen.
Just as Clark Kent was also Superman, and Bruce Wayne was also Batman; you are both a child of the world, born to human parents, and you are also a child of God!