If you are just joining us, you’ve caught us in the middle of a series we started a few weeks back called American Idolatry, where we are looking at some of the idols that are prevalent in American culture. Now these idols can obviously be found in people groups all over the world, but the one’s I’m picking out for the show seems to be especially prevalent in American culture.
Today’s topic is the idol of identity. As we know from the book of Genesis, man was created in the image of God. We were created with a certain identity. Who we are and how we relate to God is wrapped up in our identity. Being made in God’s image has tons of implications and first and foremost it identifies us as like God, but not God. We are made to be like him, but we aren’t him. We are a copy, he is the master.
One of the problems in American culture stems from one of the things that I think makes it great, the old “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” mentality. Americans are known to be individualists. We don’t need anyone else and we can prove it. The problem with this thinking is the face that we are made in the image of a Triune God. Because God is Triune, he is in perfect community within himself. We also should be in community. We are worshiping our individuality when we refuse to be in community, whether that is by not going to church or simply not loving our neighbors.
Another idol of identity is our careers. Does your career define who you are? Are you more concerned about what people will think of your career than you should be? Do you worship your career, meaning do you sacrifice time and community at the alter of your career? Men seem to struggle with this more than women, but women struggle with this in a slightly different way. Are you trying to advance your career at the expense of staying at home with your children? That could be one way that you are worshiping at the foot of this idol.
Sometimes finding this idol in your life can be very difficult. When we are blinded by pride, it’s hard to see all of the idols in our life. Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus going to the temple to pray? The Rich Man prays thanking God that he’s not like this sinner, which is something that we all might do, thanking God that we haven’t fallen into various forms of sin. Thank you God I’m not a drug addict, etc. It’s easy to relate to this man, he was being thankful for the blessings in his life. But he was blinded by the idol of identity. His identity was what? He was a Rich Man. That’s what Jesus called him. Now, historically speaking some scholars believe that Jesus was actually talking about the high priest Caiaphas in this passage because he had five brothers and wore purple and was wealthy. And if he was, this story gets even more traction, as Caiaphas was definitely worried about what people think as evidenced in his paying off of the guards after Jesus resurrection.
Identity is also the buzz word in America today with people “identifying” as all types of things – homosexuals, boys identifying as girls, white supremacists, democrats, republicans, etc. and etc. The problem is that we are finding our identity in anything other than the person of Christ. As Christians, we are to only have one identity and that’s in Christ.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 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
Notice here that Paul is saying that we are all one in Christ. We cannot put our trust in our identity. We can’t make the mistake of worshiping at the foot of identity. In Christ, your identity doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor or a doorman. It doesn’t matter if you are a banker or a bellboy. What matters is that you are putting your trust in Christ. That you are worshiping at His feet.
We make identity into an idol when we find our identity anywhere else but Christ. As Christians cannot concern ourselves with what others think about us. We also can’t put our trust in another identity. Identifying as a Republican will not save you. Identifying as a homosexual will not save you. Only Jesus can save you. Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Good News –
Unreached People Group –
Today’s Word – John 11:44-57
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.