Social progress and new ways of seeing a wide diversity as a basic right to our humanity – all sound very positive. But there is also a lot of confusion out there. New secular groups are persuading people to re-define themselves in a variety of ways. In this context there is space for a biblical Christian view.
The Christian’s calling is to follow Jesus Christ and not let the pressure of the world squeeze us into the mould it has shaped for itself. Yes, that’s radical. But Jesus said his disciples were to be like a well-lit city on a hill, or even the light of the world, seeing they represented him to this dark world. But if the light of Christ is lost from his followers, there is a real sense that they have lost their way and stopped following him.
In this light, our identity as Christians needs to be sharpened and illumined rather than muddied, diluted, or compromised by the pressures of confused secular darkness.
With those thoughts let’s clarify what I mean when we define ourselves. We are focusing on the most prominent way we view our personal identity, the most central inner core of how we see ourselves.
Some people define themselves by their well-known family, their education, or prestigious university. Others shape their identity around parenthood or a special relationship. Still others become widely known as bloggers or authors associated with a particular book title. How do you see yourself?
Yes, there is bound to be a multi-faceted identity depending on the context in which we are thinking, but if we truly belong to Christ, purchased by his precious blood, then he is central. Jesus is Lord. He is the one from whom we receive our central identity as a child of God.
However, if you have not yet put your trust in Christ and are still unsure of your identity, and find yourself not socially well-integrated, you may find this challenging. Some of the recent secular groups believe it is their mission, for example, to tell the young, vulnerable or autistic person to transition from their present gender to another one. As a result numbers of people, who dislike their own body image or sexuality, begin to think a new gender will bring a wonderful change, like an exciting journey to a new life. Alas, there are accounts of young people who soon found this to be a journey into depressing confusion.
My Christian response is that secular attempts to produce gender change do not result in the new life that was anticipated. The process is like a spurious conversion, and anyone seriously thinking that gender change or reassignment surgery will somehow give them a new life should carefully review their options.
At this point you may well challenge my own position and say, I am doing just the same sort of thing, holding out hopes of a new life, a new identity by Christian conversion, so who is to say that Christian conversion is any better than the secular sort?
Yes, that is a fair question. So, here is a brief defence that I believe is based on a secure foundation. The claims of Jesus are accessible. The Gospel records are available for all to read. Jesus’ life and public death by crucifixion is the world’s most well-known death, and his bodily resurrection has many compelling evidences to support it.
All these claims hang together. The foundation of the good news of new life in Christ is grounded in historic events. His claim to be the eternal Son of God fits his teaching and the God-given signs in Jesus’ public ministry confirm this. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and touched and cleansed outcast lepers. He forgave people their sins. His promises to give life eternal to all who trust in him have been believed and verified in everyday life by millions of people. Today, this is still the one trustworthy message offering sins forgiven and peace with God, through a Saviour whom God raised up on the third day.
The gospel of Christ has stood the test of time. We have nothing to hide. Check it out, look at its credentials in the New Testament Scriptures. See how they give a clear assessment of our condition in God’s sight, that we are lost, hopeless and cut off from him by our rebellion against God. Then see the wonderful good news of God’s love in providing a Saviour, who would stand in for us in his shameful death and carry the judgement of everyone who would turn and put their trust in him.
So, how do you define yourself? Will it be by secular beliefs that lack a basis for your individual worth and true meaning and leave you floundering in uncertainty? Or will you see that Jesus Christ is your life and that he alone, in his death on the cross, has dealt with the sinful rebellion against God of all who will put their trust in him. When you are rescued from judgement by God’s undeserved favour, then you will know that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Now that really is a most wonderful way to see yourself!