Sunday, February 3, 2013

Idols of Identity, Including Jesus!

What is it that I would say is my central identifying feature?

As I reflect on my life, it isn't hard to find things that if I were to be honest with myself (a new and excitingly scary exercise, I might add) I have embraced as the key part of identifying who I was at different times. And the list is a bit longer than I'm admittedly comfortable with, especially in light of both where I currently am and the feature that I'd like to most describe my identity.

Perhaps it's due to my American upbringing that I need a label or have a feature on which to hang my identity hat. There's not much I can do about that as this is the tribe in which I was raised and from which I seek salvation (read: Liberation). I also recognize that growing up "Christian"- and by that I mean the son of a Baptist minister immersed in charismatic/evangelical/republicanism- has colored much of my identification. So the following list, though varied, was never totally removed from a filter of faith that was deeply inbedded in me.

Without further ado, let me briefly offer what I have recognized as "Idols of My Identity". Let me add, that this brief list is not particularly creative nor unique. It could be, and often is, used to identify many people other than me. These are just features that have unwittingly and quite innocently been used to mark my identity. If someone were to ask me at different times in my life what identifies me, honesty would've suggested the following:
  • Golf (I wasn't great, but I did it a lot and was consummed by it- and others knew it)
  • Church: the institution (it's where I teethed as I attended it a lot as the son of a Baptist minister)
  • Sports (my brother's influence had a lot to do with this as it was, and still is his identifying feature)
  • Minister (this one makes me cringe the most in retrospect but it was that which I did for 25 years so it must be included)
Before I move on, let me offer what it appears to be to features that seem to be used by people (not necessarily me that I know of) as that with which they identify themselves.
  • Sexual orientation (gay people seem most likely to make this their outspoken feature; some heterosexuals seem pretty tight with their sexuality as their identifying quality)
  • Gender (females more than males seem to make this their thing inspite of some clear examples of machismo)
  • Politics (Right or left- it doesn't matter. And many Christians seem to let this feature color their faith rather than the other way around)
Bottom line time- for me, at least. I write this because I wonder why as a professing Christian for 47 years that I wouldn't quickly recognize that the "feature" that identifies me is the son of God, Jesus? Why would I want others to think I'm a golfer but not someone who is trying to orient his life toward the person and teachings of Jesus? Others would say they identify with MLK, why wouldn't I say the same about SOG? Was I just assuming that Jesus was the foundation that would not need to be labeled as that which identified me? (A cop out to be sure!)

At this point in my life, I'd like to think I am there- a person whose only feature with which he cares to identify himself is that of a worshipper and follower of the living Jesus.

And what makes this even more attractive, is that this identity is being conformed to Jesus and not my or anyone else's IDEAS  or "idols" of Jesus.