I.D. Please

Why do we do this?  Are we really better than another because of it, or does it just make us feel that way?  It’s in every area of our lives.  I refer to our efforts to align ourselves and identify with something larger.

In the United States, in the political realm, we call ourselves conservatives, liberals, or moderates – most times specifically using the party name.  Within the church, we refer to ourselves as Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, non-denominations, etc.  Within those denominations, we’re quick to narrow it down even further by what branch, main focus, or specific location we attend.

It’s also at work in other nations.  In the church in Israel, for example, people refer to themselves as Messianic Jews, Palestinian or Arab Christians, probably others, too.  In China, it’s the state-approved church or the underground church to start with, before all the subdivisions are added.

Is there anything wrong with these labels?  None of them are found in Scripture.  Thus, they actually divide and cause factions among the body of Christ, rather than unifying.  Even when we add Christian to any of those labels, we infer that Christ is not enough.  If Christ is really enough, why do we prefer to look for the differences that keep us at odds with each other, rather than looking at Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  He, alone, unites His body.  Not Christ plus our denomination-type alignment.  Not Christ plus our culture or nationality.

We’re either in Christ or we’re not.  All other alignments are contrary to Him.  There, I said it.  But I wasn’t the first:

Matthew 12:30 NLT  Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

Galatians 3:26-28 NIV  26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.*

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

In Christ.  He, alone, is our identity.  We will never be completely united by our opinions or leanings, or even our natural heritage.  Only in Christ, and in Christ alone, are we drawn together in the unity of His Spirit – His Spirit of love. We are born into Jesus Christ.  We are new creatures.   One in Christ.  May that be our only I.D. tag!

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 NIV  10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.* 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

* (highlighted by Kay for emphasis)


An illustration I heard recently painted a beautiful  picture of what happens when receive life in Jesus Christ.  While it wasn’t totally new to me, it certainly added a new dimension of revelation of God’s love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  Let’s take a very unscientific look at metamorphosis.

First there is a caterpillar, crawling on the ground in the dirt or on bushes and trees, eating the leaves.  One day, it attaches itself to one place to be completely changed.  What emerges from that cocoon looks nothing like the caterpillar that entered, nor does it function like it.  Instead, it is now a beautiful butterfly.  (Okay, I know some of them are not so pretty, but let’s just flow with the beautiful ones for this illustration.)  This butterfly flits around with quiet beauty, going from flower to flower – just being a butterfly.

What if one day this butterfly catches sight of a flower in the middle of a garbage dump, maybe the one it lived in as a caterpillar?  Its fellow butterflies beg it to stay with them far from the decay and stench, but this stubborn butterfly flies in anyway.  It spends every remaining day of its life in that garbage dump.  But, here’s the thing – it never returns to being a caterpillar.  It was forever changed during metamorphosis.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Once we have received Christ’s atoning sacrifice for all our sins – even the ones we commit after receiving Him – we are (present tense) forever a new creation in Christ.   Jesus paid the price in full and declared, “It is finished.”  Hallelujah!  What freedom we have in Christ!  What love He has for us!