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
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