Part 5 ~ “Identification”
I·den·ti·fi·ca·tion, (īˌden tə fəˈkā shen) – A process whereby an individual relates to a person or group with feelings of close emotional association.
Every person identifies with something or someone, to see ourselves as closely related or identical. There are many ways we identify ourselves: by gender, family name, ethnicity, occupation, sports, school, music, talents, politics, clothes, money, religion and many other ways.
One of our first associations is with our family. When we are asked by someone who we are, we typically answer with our name. I would answer, “Joe Nicola.” In most families, our first name is unique and our last name, which comes from our father is shared among family members. Sometimes we are identified by our last name only; that identifies us with a particular family group as well as being more unique than a first name. When I was in the military, I was called by my last name the majority of the time. Another way we identify ourselves is by our occupation. Earlier in my life, I would say I was a motorcycle mechanic. Then later I would say I am a youth pastor. Now I typically say I am a son of God. Notice how we usually say, “I am” this or that. When we say, “I am”, we are making a statement that identifies us.
It is interesting how we automatically identify certain people when we hear their name. For instance; if I said “Elvis,” what would come to mind? We probably would think of Elvis Presley and would say he was a great entertainer, singer, musician or maybe an actor (for those of us who remember Jail House Rock).
How about the name George Washington? I think of a great leader, general and the first president of the United States. When you hear the name Tiger Woods or John Wayne, what do you associate their names with? Tiger Woods is a championship golfer and John Wayne was a movie star.
See what I mean? We associate people with something they are known for. There are many people in different realms of society we remember in this way. This is natural and normal. It is also interesting that typically we associate people’s names with something they do or have accomplished, not necessarily for who they are as an individual person. One reason for this is that we really do not know famous people. We only know them for what they are known for.
Obviously, everyone has a mother and a father even if they never knew one or both parents. Our mothers and fathers have certain ethnic genes that are passed along to us. In my case, my father is Lebanese and my mother has an ethnic mix. So, I have more Lebanese in me than the other ethnicities my mother has. Many people, even children of God, identify with their ethnicity more than their new identity in Christ. They associate more with being Caucasian, African American, Asian, Chinese, Native American or Hispanic, etc., than they do with being God’s son or daughter.
As a note; I resist using the word “race” to differentiate between ethnicities because scientists have concluded that all humans belong to one race, the human race. Therefore, it is incorrect to delineate the different ethnicities as separate races even though it is very common to do so. Regardless of the color of our skin, the origin of our birth, rich or poor, or whether we have disabilities, every human being has been created in the image of God according to His likeness. Therefore, every human being has value and worth! If we constantly focus on our differences, we will always see ourselves as different and separate from others. This does not create unity but disunity. It also leads to thinking we are better than some and worse than others. How often did Jesus identify Himself as a Jew? Not once! Jesus never identified Himself by His natural ethnicity. His identity was tied to His Father, not to His earthly stepfather Joseph. Jesus never self-identified with being a step son. I am not saying we should ignore our ethnicity or ignore our family heritage. Rather, as followers of Christ, we are exhorted in scripture NOT to recognize one another by the flesh (natural) any longer. This would also include ourselves.
Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh (natural); even though we have known Christ according to the flesh (natural), yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
2 Corinthians 5:16 (emphasis added)
A major area of identification for many Christians is with Adam. The name Adam means man or mankind, which is fitting since he was the first human created by God. Adam and his wife, Eve, disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told Adam beforehand that if he ate from that tree, he would surely die. Death is a perversion of life, a corruption of God’s creation. Because of their disobedience, a curse was released that caused this corruption called death that affects all of God’s creation on earth. The curse of death is now an existence separated from the life of God (zoe is the Greek word meaning the life of God. It is the same quality of life that Jesus experienced). Jesus referred to this as the abundant life (zoe) in John 10:10. Therefore, all men must be born from above (born again) to escape this curse of death and receive the zoe, life of God. This gives us a new identity recreated in God’s image.
We associate Adam with a fallen, sinful nature. We tend to identify with sin and disobedience—conditions we associate with Adam—more than we do with the righteousness and wholeness that our new Christ-like nature represents. This is because of some popular teachings in the Body of Christ that have led us to develop an incorrect belief system, making us more sin conscious than God or righteousness conscious. The new birth in Christ severs us from the grip that the corruption of this world has on us and restores to us the life of God! This is a very powerful effect that the new birth in Christ has on us when we understand it, renew our mind and begin to walk in its truth and reality. 2 Peter 1:4 tells us that we partake of the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world. Wow!
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:4
Excerpt from my latest book; “Now Who Are You?”