By NEMS Daily Journal
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Christianity teaches that any identity we hold outside of Christ himself will ultimately fail us. Examples are easy to come by:
Identifying with “the right crowd” can seem fulfilling, but friends move, fashions change, teams lose, neighborhoods decline. Scandals overtake corporations, clubs and congregations, leaving even the innocent adrift and bereft.
A man whose self-worth comes from his athletic glory days will find his trophies losing their luster as he ages. The magnification of memory gives rise to the saying, “The older I get, the better I used to be,” which if not seen as the joke it is becomes a most pitiable philosophy.
Much the same is true of a beautiful woman determined to hold onto her image as a 20-year-old. Those who devalue themselves for gray hairs and crow’s feet are destined to wage and lose a vicious war.
The 4.0 student will find that many real-life questions do not come with neatly defined, intuitive multiple-choice answers or fit within equations and that gold stars aren’t a daily occurrence in the frantic world that defines many workplaces.
One of the lessons of the current economic problems is that wealth is not permanent, and those who mistake the value of their portfolios for their value as human beings live in a precarious position of never having quite enough in best of times and being faced with despair in difficult times.
Some people look to their intellect for their personal value, but this, too, can fail. There’s always someone smarter (even Ken Jennings eventually lost a “Jeopardy!” match), and a visit to most any rehab center proves even the sharpest brains are no match for accident or Alzheimer’s.
Family connections are another identity that can fail. Royal blood can be spilled as easily as common, and the golden scepter is no guarantee of golden character. Even a normal American family can have its reputation and stature destroyed by one black sheep or one false rumor.
Even personal integrity is no basis for lasting self-worth. Sin besets the best of us, and “falls from grace” – though grace is still active on behalf of the believer – can be as near as the next temptation.
Perhaps the failings of age and infirmity, as grievous as they seem, are an unsubtle reminder that life in a fallen world is fleeting and faulty, and the focus of the faithful should be on honoring God for the promise of the permanent and perfect.
For the Christian, there is but one lasting identity, and the Apostle John stated it with a bluntness that leaves no room for doubt: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).