Listening to how people introduce themselves in large gatherings can be very interesting. Often they mention their names and then their qualifications and profession. These bits of information make up their identity. In our home villages, we are often introduced to strangers as “the son of…” Our identity is in our ancestry. Thus, the African identity is often found in who we are and what we do.
Women in particular are often introduced in relation to men—such as sister of (a well-known brother) or daughter of (if still single) or wife of (if married). It can leave those without such ties feeling insecure and insignificant. Most of the time, it is not enough to be defined by who we are.
The African identity is often found in who we are and what we do.
What we do should not be a statement of our worth, either. Being a street sweeper does not make a person less to God than the president of a country. In other words, the image of God in a person does not respect the status of a person or his or her position in society. So where should we find our identity as Christians?
We Have a New Identity in Christ
Our identity is both in who we are in Christ and what we do as a result of who we are in Christ. In Romans 2-11 describes who the believer is in Christ: Our identity consists of what God has done and made us to be—our very nature and essence in Christ. The passage suggests that God has chosen, elected, justified, and saved us from the penalty and power of sin. So we are new creations, no more living under condemnation, but living as children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17). No longer are we fallen and hopeless before God. Instead, we are victorious in Christ.
Our identity doesn’t ultimately depend on our gender, tribe, education, or nationality.
This, however, does not mean that our privileged identity as children of God protects us from the miseries of this world. We are still part of the fallen world and experience pain, suffering, persecution, and death (Matthew 5:1-12). Sometimes, in fact, these happen to us because of our identity in Christ. But “overwhelming victory is ours,” and nothing we experience can separate us from God and his love (Romans 8:37-38). This identity does not ultimately depend on our gender, tribe, education, or nationality. It is purely how God has created us and what he has given us.
We Must Live Out This Identity
Then, in chpater 12 of Romans, Paul describes how believers must live. He writes, “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Who we are determines what we do.
Notice that Paul begins with “and so.” This indicates that who we are determines what we do. We need to understand who we are first before we can claim to do anything in Christ.
In conclusion, many Christians think that believers have to do spectacular acts, such as healing the sick, casting out demons, and performing other dramatic activities. Others believe that Christians find their identity in how they dress and appear in public or what they eat and do not eat.
Instead, we live out our identity with simple activities such as loving one another, blessing those who persecute us, living at peace with others, leaving revenge to God, and conquering evil by doing good (Romans 12:10-20). These are the responses expected from all Christians. We should love one another and obey Christ in all things. All believers can do this regardless of gender, skin colour, or nationality.
Contact Oasis Regional Directors to order your Africa Study Bible:
- Regional Director East Africa: WhatsApp: +27 79 572 4877
- Regional Director West Africa: WhatsApp +234 809 111 1184
The Africa Study Bible app is available on the Tecarta Bible App, the world’s best study Bible app, which is available to download on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.