Thursday, October 10, 2013


There is No Identity, Only Christ

Justin Taylor links to a post by Terry Johnson:

 What happens when one or two aspects of our Christian identity get emphasized at the expense of others? What happens when we fail to keep the four central elements (sons, saints, servants, sinners) of our identity in tension with each other? Let’s see. 

Some have made “sons” and “saints” the message of the gospel and have neglected the categories of “servant” and “sinner.” The result has been a strong emphasis on our unchanging security as children of God and our safe status as “holy ones,” righteous in Christ. Many hurting souls have derived great comfort from this constant refrain. Those of “tender conscience,” to use the Puritan term, have found deep consolation in regular reminders of sonship and sainthood.

However, in the absence of an ongoing emphasis on “servant” and “sinner” the result too often has been complacency about duty, service, responsibility, and even about sin. “Don’t should me,” some preachers have been known to say. “There is nothing that I must do that will make God love me more. There is nothing that I have done that will make Him love me less,” these preachers rightly insist. Yet, they continue, “My Father is always pleased with me and never displeased. He sees me ‘in Christ,’ perfect and complete.“ Consequently, don’t tell me what I need to do. I don’t need to do anything – just bask in grace. When I fail, I’m loved and accepted. When I fall, I am safe and secure. The Christian life is not doing but being, being ‘in Christ.’”

I agree with the point almost entirely that Christianity is not wholly a state of being but that it has action associated with it - that is to say behavioral consequences, but I wonder if, in the modern era, discussing "identity" in Christ is the way to discuss this?

The actions involved in being a Christian as selfless acts - when we root our identity in them we are still, sadly, focused on self, and are therefore, to some extent, missing the point.  If we are acting in self-interest, even if the actions are sacrificial, we are somehow not quite getting it.  The key is in the phrase Christ uttered in the garden, "Not my will, but Thine."  It is not a question of Jesus deciding to do something for any selfish reason, there was no self-interest involved.  It is a question of Christ subsuming His will and identity to His father.

I fear that the modern age has so compromised the language that we are losing concepts that are important in the faith.  In order to "be heard" we have to actually compromise.  We must be hyper vigilant in how we make our points.


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