““You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ “Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them— Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”
Isaiah 41:9-13 NKJV
Our society is overcome by the search for identity. We strive to find out who we are and how we should be treated. Even our politics of this uncertain time are domionated by “identity politics.” Women want to be defined as women, men as men, black people as black people, whites as whites and so on and so on. Some have gone so far as to be identified in ways other than that determined at birth. We are all seeking to be somebody, all too often, as someone we are not.
All of these identities are at odds in our nation and world, as all collide, challenging for the top spot. I have been outside of this whole thing. My parents were ordinary people, living ordinary lives, in an era where being human was the main identity one had to worry about. My mom and dad were my reference point. To be honest, there was little talk of racial issues in the Lyle household. We knew that racial bias existed, that there were places we couldn’t go and that there were people who hated us. We just didn’t dwell on it.
When I look back, I remember my mother’s faith. She was one who prayed and worshipped out of reflex. The line between the practical and the spiritual was blurred. She would be talking to me one moment, and praying the next. It was clear to me that her identity was in Christ, and that He was the priorty. Sadly she grew up in a world that was increasingly defined by racial characteristics. She was one who “talked good” and she had a fairer complexion than many of her peers. She was bullied and mistreated because of it. In my own early life, I suffered some of the same treatment, because I sounded too white, and I made a effort to do well in school. I was considered a “sell out,” or worse yet, an Uncle Tom.
For many years, I was a man with no identity. Blacks and whites felt a common discomfort with me because I did not fit the pajorative stereotypes and expectations of each. I had several terrible years at the University of Iowa, where I walked the narrow line between the races and was roundly rejected by all parties. Over time I developed my own identity. I learned to walk alone.
Then came Jesus.
Finally I found a home in Christ. It didn’t matter what the color of my skin was, the sex I was born in, or even if I was an American. I had a new identity. I was a new creation. Suddenly, I fit in with people of all walks of life who called upon the name of the Lord.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
I became a believer. I became a servant of the Most High God. As I have grown in my faith, I have found that God has placed His stamp of ownership upon me, and has increasingly changed how I think, how I approach things, and how I view myself. He has also given me a strong confidence in Him. Walking in Christ is dangerous thing these days. The views that I have have served to marginalize me. Whan one seeks to walk in the spirit, those not doing so become very uncomfortable. In reading through Isaiah today, I was reminded of the great backup I have as a servant of the Lord.
We are in a time when there is great pressure to take a side, to cling to the temporal, and seek rescue from mere mortal men. I have a hard time lowering my vision from the heavenly, to the low plain of the political. I am old enough to know that politicians are no help. We are facing a national election, and being an independent, I am taking it all in. I am sure pressures will be coming at me from all sides as people with lower vision begin to become concerned about the contests of man.
I take solace in my identity as a servant, the fact that Jesus Christ, came to earth, died on the cross for my sin, was buried and rose again. He was the ultimate servant, and the author and finisher of the faith. I will remember that He has made me a new creation, and given me a new identity. He stands in the gap before me, facing my enemies, and supports me. I can have the peace that my God is sovereign.
Believers, have no fear! Jesus is in control! He holds the future. Go out and be the servants that God has called you to be. Do not fear, do not be discouraged. People need to hear the Gospel. That is the only way change will come. Be the children of God. Let your identity in Christ determine how you approach this fragmented world. Remember this:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV
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