How do you identify yourself? We have many different ways in which we like to identify ourselves in our modern culture. We say this person is a Democrat and this person is a Republican. We classify people as a conservative or a liberal. Some people are religious, while others are secularists. The popular movie “The Breakfast Club” introduces us to “the brain, the athlete, the basket-case, the princess, and the criminal.” How do you see yourself? And how do others see you? Often, the answer comes from the different identities we claim within each category.
What about the category of “religion”? Would you identify as a Christian? Would you classify yourself in this way? Many people, especially in America, would. I have asked many people if they considered themselves a Christian and often they answer “Yes, I grew up going to church.” Or, “Yes, my parents were very religious.” It seems to me that many people assume a Christian identity based off of their own ideas of what makes a person a Christian as opposed to what the Bible says.
You see, we’ve made self-identification the be-all-to-end-all in terms who we are. However, this is not a new idea. In the Bible Jesus speaks of a group of people who classify themselves as His followers, but the reality is very different. We find these words in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The truth of the matter is that many people classify themselves as Christians without understanding what a Christian is and how one becomes a Christian. Simply self-identifying as a Christian does not make you a Christian. Neither does giving money, being baptized, growing up with Christian parents, or even going to a church. Being a Christian means that you trust wholly and completely in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It means that God has done a radical work in your heart, that you have been born-again by the spirit of God, and now desire to live a life that glorifies your Lord. When you reflect on the passage above the question is not do you know Jesus, but does He know you? That is what makes someone a Christian; not self-identification, but being identified by God.
“How Do You Identify?”
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ