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Have you gotten caught up in what’s called identity politics, wondering if your race, sex, social background makes you good enough, makes you matter, gives meaning to your life?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #55 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

 

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, after a year of trial and turmoil, I am thankful we live in a country that enjoys religious liberty.

Just last year, 2021, we commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims, a group that had fled tyranny in quest of religious freedom, braving the Atlantic in the 110-foot wooden Mayflower.

In 1863 during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day, encouraging citizens to exercise their religious liberty through prayers for peace, harmony, tranquility, unity—grace we certainly still need today.

Another thing for which I am profoundly thankful is my identity. Now this may surprise you, or maybe it does not, given the intense focus upon identity in American culture.

In recent years, we’ve been inundated with something called “identity politics,” 

the idea that one’s sex or gender, race, religion, social background or social class, nationality or ethnicity, not only influences but in the view of some, determines a person’s potential, political agenda, and, well, value.

Identity politics is deeply connected with the idea that some groups in society are oppressed and begins with analysis of that oppression.”

These ideas have morphed into a neo-Marxist philosophy called critical race theory, which is now dominating discussions in American education—kindergarten to graduate school—corporations, entertainment, even sports and religion.  

It is not too difficult for me to understand that these highly divisive, fragmenting philosophies have developed at a time when the existence of God, absolute truth, moral certainty, natural law, and Creation have all been jettisoned in favor of supposedly more enlightened understanding.

Think about it. If there is no God, or at least no God who cares or is involved with humanity, no truth, no certainty, then it makes sense that human beings would begin to search for meaning in particulars, in myriad breakouts, and consequent breakdowns, of society.

If there is no God, no centripetal force, if you will, that acts like moral gravity to hold everything together (see Col 1:17: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”), then there are only infinite centrifugal forces spinning out of control, going off in all directions.

This is American culture today. It no longer has a center, no social glue, only a pell-mell rush to proclaim individual significance even as culture falls apart.

Now I am not saying that all identifying attributes are somehow ipso facto bad or wrong or inconsequential. I am saying they are not ultimate, not our end-all, be-all, not what defines us, not what determines us or our destiny. They are attributes, gifts from God, not fatal forces.

Regarding my own identity, I mean that I am thankful I for Christian parents who took me to church from before I was born and faithfully thereafter, introducing me to Christ and Christianity both through how they lived their lives and, in time, Bible teaching and theology.  

Dad is with the Lord now and Mom turns 91 on Thanksgiving Day. Their love has been constant, so unlike many unfortunate boys and girls, I never doubted I mattered, I belonged. My sense of self, my identity, was enormously secure because of this.

Beyond this, I came to understand two important principles of my Christian faith:

  • As with all other human beings, I am a unique human being created in the image of God, temporally and eternally significant (Gen. 1:26). As Os Guinness puts it, “Each human being has a measureless worth.”
  • Once I became a Christian at age 6, I became a born-again believer, a follower of and disciple of Christ, a child of God born of his Spirit.

As the Scripture says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So, my identity is not rooted in what I see in the mirror, not my sex, race, ethnicity, nationality. It is not rooted in my citizenship, politics, bank account, professional position, possessions, talent, things, or even my religion. 

My identity is rooted in the Sovereign God who created me, and my identity is in Christ through whom I am a child of God.  

And there’s more, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” (Rom. 8:17). “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,” (2 Pet. 2:9).

So, my identity is both an exalted and a rock-solid secure one. No matter my failing or sin or doubts, my identity in Christ will never be insecure.

Unlike the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, or the celebrities of our day, we do not have to work to attain or maintain our position. 

It saddens me to watch this happen virtually every day. For example, musicians or actors once lauded for their artistic contributions and now seemingly past their creative prime, work hard to maintain social media relevance. Often, particularly if they are women, this means posting Instagram pictures of themselves in various stages of undress. They do this because in their view, this is all they have left, the only way they can make news.

We’re back to thanking God this Thanksgiving weekend for religious liberty, for in this profound truth and condition we find room for learning our true identity.

In Os Guiness’s words, “Freedom of religion and conscience affirms the dignity, worth, and agency of every human person by freeing us to align ‘who we understand ourselves to be’ with ‘what we believe ultimately is’ and then to think, live, speak, and act in line with those convictions.”“What is at stake with freedom of religion and conscience is nothing less than human dignity, human self-determination, and human responsibility.”

If we seek the meaning of our existence in something other than the Sovereign God, including identity politics, we will be disappointed.

I am thankful for the religious liberty in this country that allowed me to come to understand truth. I am thankful for Christian parents who lived and pointed me to truth. I am thankful for God’s revelation telling me I am made in his image. I am thankful that by grace through faith in Christ I am a child of God.

I am thankful that I matter eternally not due to my demographic identity but because God made me so.

 

Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.  

Pax et Bonum, “Peace and all Good.”

May the world come to rest this silent night, holy night. 

May peace be known; may good be shown. 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

A Thanksgiving reminder…

If you’ve about had it, turn off the chattering classes, 

who “speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, (and are) only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

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© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Wow, there are some things I’d just like to walk away from, leave them behind in 2011 when the New Year dawns.

During the last week of the year it’s become something of a tradition, at least for me, to ponder what I’d like to jettison for good. I mean, think about it, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could ditch certain troublesome, annoying, hurtful, or unpleasant things? Frankly, it’d be wonderful to ditch certain people, too, but no doubt others could say the same for me.

I know it’s a fantasy, but it’s a fun fantasy. Here’s my list of things I’d leave behind in 2011, if I could:

EU (and I’m afraid some US) Citizens Who Want Others To Pay For Their Lifestyle. Who, really, do the Greeks, Spaniards, Italians, or others want to pay for their very early retirement, extensive benefits, and upside down economics? There ain’t no free lunch, and eventually, you have to pay the piper.

GOP Presidential Candidates Focusing On Each Other. If any given Republican presidential candidate wants to win the White House, he or she should forget the rest and focus like a laser on the national debt and budget deficit, jobs, and the economy. For once I agree with James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Middle East Dictatorships. Historically, Arab world dictators only leave office in a box. Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak broke the mold, even if reluctantly. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi reverted to type and paid for it with his life. At this writing several other leaders are so far imitating Gaddafi. Here’s hoping they’ll catch a different vision.

Look-At-Me Pro Athletes. The NFL is the worst, and I like professional football best of all major sports. It’s happening in a lot of professional sports in different ways. But for me, I’m big-time weary of self-indulgent, immature athletes delaying games, dashing into the camera after plays, and doing signature moves to call attention to themselves. Hey, give it a rest. You’re being paid millions to perform well, so perform, and let that be your statement.

Earthquakes, Tsumanis, Tornadoes. Need I say more? But I will, add to the list Nuclear Crisis and continue to pray for the people of Japan and Joplin, Missouri.

Charlie Sheen—Duh, Winning? I don’t think so. I’m not making fun of him. The man’s an addict, his own worst enemy. He needs help. But that doesn’t mean we need to put up with his public meltdowns.

Disappointing Leaders. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. What do they have in common? Perceived cover-up and “former.”

Love Wins. Sorry, I can’t support this book or Rev. Rob Bell's theological perspective expressed within it. I think this is one of the more spiritually threatening things to come from within the evangelical community in some time, for it confuses and undermines the deity of Christ and the Way of salvation. This point of view says what liberals have always believed and want to hear, which is why the book enjoyed so much play in mainstream media. But the view herein leads people down the broad road, not the narrow one.

Tebow Haters. Tim Tebow, football’s Denver Broncos quarterback may not ultimately make it as a starter in the NFL. But the level of vitriol aimed at this guy, at least in part because he’s confident in his Christian faith, is way overdone. I’d rather root for a guy with character than some of the gifted athletes who otherwise behave like thugs—can you say, Ndamukong Suh?

Osama bin Laden. Well, I guess we are leaving him behind in 2011, and justly so. I invite other political conservatives to join me in giving credit to President Barack Obama where it’s due. The Man got his man, and for the sake of those who lost their lives in 9/11, for the sake of their families and friends, and for the sake of the soldiers lost or wounded in resultant conflicts, and their families, I’m glad we’re leaving bin Laden behind. And I’m more than happy to salute the President and the Navy Seals for a necessary job well done.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Here's a new Christmas video from the SAT-7 international office in Cyprus. I like it. Merry Christmas to you all.

 

I’ve written about this day: “Halloween, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” It’s difficult to ignore.

There’s so much about the holiday that’s fun, kids-oriented, playful, and interesting even in terms of Christian history. But a lot has changed in the past thirty or so years, such that Halloween has also become a time for celebrating the grotesque, blood, gore, and the occult. Not much in the ugly parts of Halloween that commends it to anyone, much less children.

Frankly, though I love the fall season and both one of son’s and my birthday fall near Halloween, I’m generally glad when Halloween is over. This is the case primarily because television changes so dramatically in the three-week run-up to October 31. Every gross and gory film ever made is trotted out for reruns. Other than for sports, I try to stay away from television even more than usual during this time.

Halloween for kids? If that means candy, costumes, and a fun night in the dark for a couple of hours, I’m all in. Celebrate the innocence of children. It’s harmless.

I go a different direction when the twisted, demonic, and insane killer costumes emerge. I guess I never liked so-called scary movies, horror—I’ve never read a Stephen King novel—and certainly didn’t get into slasher films. Classic film noir, Yes. Bloodfests, No.

It's an interesting though meaningless coincidence that the world's population hit 7 billion today, on Halloween.

But I’m not against Halloween.

Last Friday, we hosted our maybe 15th or so annual pumpkin carving party. Kids, grandkids, friends, food. Great fun and some rather creative and artsy Jack-o-lanterns.

I flew to Phoenix today. Several airline staff members were dressed in Halloween costumes. It lightened the day.

Tonight, I intend to walk a Mesa neighborhood with Lebanese American parents and their two little guys. Looking forward to it. I've walked many a street in earlier years with kids and grandkids and hope to walk many more. Much fun.

In the end, Halloween is like most other things we can experience. We can choose to lift it up by our values and behavior or we can tear it down by the same. It’s a human thing, which is perhaps the scariest thing of all.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.