Two Implications for Christian Identity
A Happy New Year to all and I hope you had a Spirit filled Christmas break. Here are a couple of comments about our Christian identity from my 1/4/10 sermon. (calvarymemorial.com) I set them before you to begin a conversation on the important topic of Christian identity in a post-Christian society.
First, your Christian identity must be God-centered.
This means you must define who you are in light of who God says you are, not who the world says you are. Notice that with the phrase “elect exiles,” your status with God precedes your status with the world. In fact, your status before God is the reason for your status in the world. You are an exile in the world precisely because you are elected by God. What God says about you must come first; and indeed it must explain who you are in the world and how you experience the world, not the other way around. This is what it means to have a God-centered identity: who God is and what God has done—in particular, what Christ has done—must be central to who you see yourself to be.
Second, your Christian identity will be paradoxical.
For as Christians we are and always will be both elect and exiles. There will always be a tension in the way we see ourselves. We will always be in our element and out of it simultaneously. As elect, we will feel secure in God, yet as exiles we will feel vulnerable in the world. As elect, we will feel confident of our place in history, yet as exiles we will feel insecure of our place right here at home, at work, or among friends. As elect, we will feel in step with the ways of God, yet as exiles we will feel out of step with the ways of the world. As elect, we will experience the joy of being chosen by God, yet as exiles we will experience the pain of being rejected by the world. This is what it means to say that Christian identity is paradoxical. There will always be this sense of tension between being elect, on the one hand, and being exiles, on the other.”
What has your experience been as an “elect exile”? In the tension between those two words, do you identify with the one more than the other?