By: Zach Collins
Let’s start with a question, can others identify you as a Christian? This was the main question addressed at CYC 2018, in Pigeon Forge. Each speaker addressed the concept of identity and the effect that identity has on each person’s Christianity. These speakers were not referring to unique identification attributes of each person. We are not talking about fingerprints, big ears, a crooked nose, or green eyes. We are not talking about names, social security numbers, or driver’s licenses. These things are not material and could not be identified by a forensic scientist or detective. We are talking about an identity that we inherit through one simple act, becoming a Christian. But, do others know we are a Christian? It is one thing to complete the act of becoming a Christian, by hearing, believing, repenting, and being reborn through baptism (Rom. 6:4). However, it is something else to live our life as a faithful Christian, and to have that act become our identity. It is something else for the characteristics of a servant of God to be an identifying factor for a Christian.
When I think of identity, I think of Colossians 3:12. This verse says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” In order to be identified as Christians, to live as faithful Christians, we must demonstrate the qualities, convictions, and attributes of a Christian seamlessly throughout our lives. This verse is a good place to start. Compassion for others is a hallmark trait for those who identify as Christians. As children of God, we must go out of our way to comfort others in their time of need. To be compassionate is to be sympathetic, it is to recognize the struggles that others experience and attempt to help them find a solution. To be compassionate is to seek out ways to be compassionate. Are you identified as a compassionate Christian? Kindness is a trait that all Christians should demonstrate through the way we live our lives. This is being nice to the waiter/waitress, even though you might receive poor service. After all, that person could be going through struggles unbeknownst to you. Kindness is being generous, giving to those who are less fortunate than yourself. Kindness is being friendly to others, no matter their walk of life. Kindness is a trait that is contagious. We have all heard the ‘ripple in a pond’ analogy, and while used often, it does ring true. One act of kindness can carry another through a tumultuous time, possibly leading to a reciprocation of sorts. Are you identified as a kind Christian? Humility is the toughest attribute for most Christians. Humility is humbling yourself, despite your wealth, power, or accomplishments. It is nice to achieve the aforementioned and, if we have achieved these things, we should consider ourselves abundantly blessed. But, that’s just it. Those things are blessings, not ego boosters. We should be thankful that God has given us those things within our life. After all, these things are not of your own accord, despite your mode of thinking. These things are given to you by God, as are all blessings (Jam. 1:17). So, why not practice some humility, and use those blessings to change the life of another? Meekness, a trait that goes hand-in-hand with humility. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Meekness is the one trait that goes against every human instinct. If someone hits you, you want to hit back. Right? If someone says a hurtful word towards you, you want to say three hurtful words back. Right? Wrong. As Christians, to practice meekness means to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39). It means to be submissive in nature, seasoned with positivity in conversation. Only say words that uplift others, rather than words that tear down others. To practice meekness is to practice kindness, gentleness, and humility. It’s funny how that works. Are you identified as a Christian who practices meekness? Finally, patience. This is the hardest characteristic for myself. Everybody knows the feeling that you get when you’re sitting at the red light waiting for that light to change, but it doesn’t change for like 30 minutes. Okay, maybe it was only 3 minutes but you get the idea. We get so impatient within our lives, even with God. We want things to happen right now. ‘God, why can’t this happen right now?’ ‘God, why must I wait?’ ‘God, I’ve prayed and prayed, but it still hasn’t happened’. As much as I hate to wait, I have noticed one commonality with waiting. When I do choose to wait, and practice a little patience, good things happen. In order to be identified as a Christian, we must understand that patience comes with the territory. You must understand that delayed gratification is much more gratifying that instant gratification. Are you identified as a patient Christian?
When I think of a Christian identity, I think of these characteristics. But, these are not the only characteristics that define a Child of God. There are so many more that I could never, possibly, cover in an article. However, this verse is a good place to start, because these characteristics are things we can physically apply to our lives. Similar to a weight-loss diet, these characteristics give you a guideline to follow, it just takes a little dedication. Every morning, we can start, and end, our day with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We shouldn’t have to display a physical I.D. to show others that we are a Christian. It shouldn’t have to be on our driver’s license, our Facebook profile, or Instagram profile. Others shouldn’t have to say, “Hey, are you a Christian?” They should know of our identity as a Christian by the way we live our life.
Can others identify you as a Christian?