If you’ve ever seen the TV show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” you’ve heard the song by The Who entitled “Who Are You.” The background of the song reveals that it’s a day in the life of Pete Townshend from The Who, but it’s haunting melody and lyrics are perfect for a show that seeks to identify dead bodies and determine the cause of death. It’s a question that can be asked of someone we’ve never met, or, it can be a probing incisive question dealing with our identity and the kind of person we are. Sometimes when I get angry and want to find a way to get satisfaction, it’s a question that rings in the back of my mind – and it calms me down enough to fret and grumble instead of taking action that I would regret. It’s a question that many of us would do well to reflect on as we ponder our character.
We may find our character or our identity in our ethnicity. There’s something to be said about identifying with your heritage – especially if you can be proud of your heritage. Perhaps you identify yourself by your job. Maybe it’s marital status or whether or not you have kids. Maybe you’ve accomplished something great in life and when you think about who you are, or you introduce yourself, you lead with that. “Hi, my name is Bob and I was a state champion in tennis,” for example. As Paul dealt with the Galatians, he reminded them that there was one important factor that united all of them and put them on the same level – and that it should be more important than anything else in their lives. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)
The Galatians had all kinds of troubles. To be fair, aside from Romans, most of Paul’s letters were written to deal with trouble in the early church. The trouble he was dealing with in this instance was how people identified themselves. Rather than identifying themselves first with Christ, they looked at their religious background, or their status as free or slave, or their gender. Paul reminded them that their most important identity was in Jesus Christ. It astounded him that, for many of the Galatians, this was secondary to other identifying factors. Sadly, it was a theme that had to be dealt with in other parts of the New Testament: slaves were told to glory in their freedom while freemen were reminded that they were servants or slaves of God. Paul reminded them that their background, noble or ignoble as it might be, was secondary compared to the amazing unity they shared by walking with Christ.
Paul made one point that’s especially interesting in today’s world: your identity with Christ is more important than anything else you identify with – even whether you are male of female. Our identity in Christ is more important than anything else we identify with – even our ethnic background. The popular Christian artist, Mandisa, has a song out that reminds us of our unity called “Bleed the Same” that features Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin. In this song she deals with the issue of divisions in society along ethnic lines. We are all members of the human race. Our mechanics might be slightly different; our skin color may not be the same; but that’s fine. Variety is interesting, so isn’t it great that God made us all differently? While we should celebrate our differences, we can only celebrate them in a way that makes society a better place if we recognize that God sees all of us through the lens of Jesus Christ. Let me ask the question I started with now: “Who are you?” As for me, I am a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I hope that we share that identity in common.
Lord God, You are most important in my life. Let my life reflect that and may I always show Your love to others.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.