Two women, from the same people group and religious background, but with vastly different responses to the presentation of the gospel.
The question was the same: “What is keeping you from accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”
“If what you say is true,” one responded, “then everything I’ve lived and suffered for is false.”
Why did she give this answer? Because she had indeed suffered for her heritage and saw acceptance of Christ as a denial of her religious and ethnic identity.
The words of the second woman, upon accepting the good news of salvation, revealed to us why we should never be deterred in sharing:
“Though everything concerning our living situation and immigration looks grim, I am at peace, because I know the Lord brought me and my family to this country to draw closer to him.”
We don’t have to go overseas to encounter these opposing views; no, they are all around us. What identities hinder others to step out in faith?
- Being born in a Muslim home and afraid of rejection and persecution.
- Being in a strong Orthodox or Catholic family, where religious identity is established at birth.
- Being an intellectual in an academic setting, who’s afraid of backlash from colleagues and students.
- Being an addict to any kind of substance that you’re afraid to give up.
- Being a refugee or immigrant and fearful of rejection from the collective culture.
- Being a leader or high-profile influencer and afraid of losing your position.
- Being a part of a culture where individual decisions can bring shame on the whole.
- Being a person who’s lived an alternative lifestyle and afraid of what such a step would mean.
We all have identities that connect us to a larger whole. Jesus sees us. He knows where we’ve come from, but he wants us to be sure of where we’re going. Only in identifying with Christ through faith can our future be secure.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
As the second woman discovered, trusting in Jesus didn’t necessarily change her circumstances, and for many it can actually make them worse. She did know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that despite her circumstances she now had peace–no identity can give you that.
We might find comfort in our identity, because we’re surrounded by others in the same boat. The problem is that boat is sinking. Only Jesus can save us from the sin that leads to death, in this life and the next.
As we share, may we help others to see that we can’t take our earthly identity with us. In Christ alone can we put on a new identity that will last for eternity. That’s the one that matters.
Grace and Peace