Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beyond Identity

It seems that one of the most human of activities is dividing up into discrete groups. We do this on the playground, in the classroom, in neighborhoods. Oak Cliff and other "red-lined" areas of America's cities are the evidence of how profound this practice is. Whole generations are blighted by the separation that the baby boom generation has moved from just being about race and class to now include "lifestyle" segregation.
We justify this by celebrating our identities, celebrating our music, our culture, our behaviors and daring anybody to say anything against our demonstrations. And when they do, we cry out that we are being attacked, thus stimulating more fear on the part of those who understand us, and thus a blinder loyalty to the tribe. Fear rules us, no matter which side of which battle we fight on.
This cycle is not new to the post-Christendom world; it is not unique to the West. This is the same world that Christ entered-- only Christ tranformed it by his death and resurrection. Where is the Church-- not congregations, but the Church-- in a world so polarized by those who derive joy and purpose from the crusade?
Is not serving Jesus Christ losing one identity, and being born into another that is greater than race, greater than class, greater than sexual identity? "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
One of the reasons the Church of Jesus Christ grew in its first centuries was because it was known as "the third race," not Jew, not Gentile, but each and every race who no longer prided themselves on their separateness, because they were all in Christ.
Where is that Church today? Why can't we be that Church?

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