What is Christian identity?

Season opening thoughts about the first commandment
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1. Our fake Gods, our fake Christianity. A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the first commandment. We have been baptized and affirmed our baptism by confirmation. What else is Christian identity, if not this? I have to disagree with the sisters and brothers thinking these. Christian identity is not a set of features. It is not community membership. It cannot be gained. It cannot be possessed. The Lord will only be our sole God if we do not place anything even close to Him that may reach His importance. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

2. The roots of Christian identity. The most important source of Christian identity is living in a communion with the Holy Trinity. Looking at the Ten Commandments from the light of the New Testament it is obvious that God’s intention is not to restrict us but to fulfill us. Knowing God’s Totality and experiencing His endless love, we can see that obeying the Ten Commandments becomes a consequence – and not a requirement. The dual communion experienced with God and fellow human beings is not else than the love command of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). The specific manifestation of Christian identity’s roots is the prayer, the Sacraments (the baptism and especially the Eucharist) and the Word of God. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

3. The trunk and shoots of Christian identity. The first important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the recognition of sin and the fear of God. The most important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the gradual formation of Jesus’ face and His whole self in us. There are a lot of shoots of Christian identity that are individual characteristics of Christian believers. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 


 

Introduction. My essays in the autumn semester will be about the Ten Commandments. When writing about a commandment I will always add an idea that may further enrich the meaning that the commandment covers. So during the interpretation of the first commandment ("I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me." Exodus 20:3) I try to find an answer to the question that how the essence of Christian identity can be summarized? (Let me thank the idea of the present essay to Sister Colette-Marie named after the Resurrection who stepped into Life’s totality on 26th April, in the 74th year of her life and the 51st year of her religious profession. In February in Magyarszék/Hungary, in the Discalced Carmelite order, she gave me the "homework" to think about the essence of the Christian identity. I have been doing this since then. I have learnt a lot from Sister Colette-Marie and other sisters of the order. I am greatly thankful to all of them.)  Interpreting the second and the third commandments („You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.”) I examined the concept of the real honoring of God. Regarding the fourth commandment („Honor your father and your mother!”) I was looking for the answer to what makes a dialogue determining in somebody’s life? The key idea of the answer is the openness to honor other people (e.g. our parents). Thinking over the fifth commandment ("You shall not murder!") I show that there are many ways to commit a murder in our everyday lives, and whom we kill when we are unable to forgive. I also think it over what we must murder to become capable of accepting Jesus.

 

1. Our fake Gods, our fake Christianity

 

A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the first commandment. We do not worship druid oak trees and do not make a blessing besom at Midsummer, but instead: we often go to church, we pray the Lord’s Prayer each day and we subscribe our children to Bible classes – so we are proper Christians. It is even easier than that! We have been baptized. We have even affirmed our baptism by confirmation (although it was only a bonus). What else is Christian identity, if not this? I have to disagree with the sisters and brothers thinking these. Christian identity is not a set of features. It is not community membership. It cannot be gained. It cannot be possessed. I do have my Christian identity, my friend, and you, do not. You, my friend, are not the Child of God, but I do.

 

The Reader may already feel uncomfortable. But the hard point is yet to come... Let’s examine our souls thoroughly. What has been the most important for us today? What was it yesterday? A week ago? Have our thoughts and feelings reflected the presence of God in our lives or have they gone in circles about why our relationships with our partners had become so burned-out, about what would happen to our jobs or how could we get our wrecked cars repaired? If we wish to ask for something really good in our lives what is the first thing to come into our hearts and mouths? A lot of money? Big joy? Success? Do we think about that in such cases we offer a sacrifice to the god of money, the god of joy and the god of success? God is not the donation but the Donor. The donation – whatever it could be – is the result of the mercy that implies unconditional acceptance and love. God’s love towards us is unconditional and total. The Lord will only be our sole God if we do not place anything even close to Him that may reach His importance.

 

We can see quite a lot of interpretations of the Christian identity. E.g. ‘Christian Identity’ can also be interpreted as a horrible, ‘genetically Christian’ ideology that includes such sinful thoughts like non-white men (e.g. Africans) existed before Adam and were not created by God as human. Certain branches of this ideology have been the founders of Hitler’s ideology or the Ku Klux Klan’s ideology. So we have to be very careful to read the current sea of information when we try to formulate the notion of Christian identity in ourselves. Instead of human sin-thoughts, our idea of Christian identity has to be arisen from God’s Word, the depth of our faith. We cannot pray enough about the clarity of this.

 


 

2. The roots of Christian identity

 

For me Christian identity is like a tree: it consists of roots, a thickening and strengthening trunk and shoots. These provide a continuous transition from Christian identity towards Christian life practice and holiness. Christian identity has four substantial roots. The most important source of Christian identity is living in a communion with the Holy Trinity. Looking at the Ten Commandments from the light of the New Testament it is obvious that God’s intention is not to restrict us but to fulfill us. "I am the Lord thy God." (Exodus 20:3) Preceding any of His commandments, God gives first. He gives nothing less that Everything. He gives Himself to us. Knowing God’s Totality and experiencing His endless love, we can see that obeying the Ten Commandments becomes a consequence – and not a requirement.

 

If we live in the communion of the Holy Trinity we are given so much love from the Holy Trinity that we “explode”. That’s why we have to give from this love to other people and to help them get involved in this communion. The dual communion experienced with God and fellow human beings is not else than the love command of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). During this process the „I” expands gradually into „we” which is not anything else than Christ’s body and church. Expanding into „we” provides the chance to build on the community of people living in Christ’s, including the generations ahead of us in this respect, their traditions and experiences and the coming generations, too.

 

The specific manifestation of Christian identity’s roots is the prayer, the Sacraments (the baptism and especially the Eucharist) and the Word of God (also in the forms of the church service, the sermon and the liturgy). These specific manifestation forms fill and complete our lives gradually with the experienced communion. The roots of the Christian identity grow and strengthen in a different order for everyone. Like e.g. baptism is the basis of entering the Holy Trinity’s communion but there are exceptions from this, too, e.g. in the case of adult baptism, when feeling the communion with the Holy Trinity may happen before preparing for the baptism.

 


 

3. The trunk and shoots of Christian identity

 

The first important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the recognition of sin and the fear of God. Here the essence of the fear of God is not to be afraid of God’s punishment but to worry about that the communion with the Holy Trinity becomes hurt and with this the biggest value of the Christian soul becomes damaged. Imagine that we hang above an abyss. The abyss is our guilty selves. The rock to which our life-saving rope is anchored is the loving stability of God, the redeeming mercy of Jesus Christ and the saving power of the Holy Spirit. Sin is a huge knife with which we start to cut this single life-saving rope of us.

 

The most important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the gradual formation of Jesus’ face and His whole self in us. A quite significant stage of this process is when Jesus’ pain occurs gradually in our lives. The pain of Jesus can be felt especially strongly when the Glory of God becomes hurt in any way. In this case those having a Christian identity cannot remain uninvolved because if they do not act, the pain of Jesus becomes unbearable in them. Another important element of Jesus’s pain is the profound sense of the other person’s misery. This leads us to mercy. When the trunk of Christian identity becomes strengthened holiness develops. The trunk of Christian identity grows from the roots in most of the cases. But there are exceptions of this, too e.g. in a lot of cases the recognition of sin and Godly fear may precede the formation of the communion with the Holy Trinity or living in the church.

 

 

There are a lot of shoots of Christian identity that are individual characteristics of Christian believers. Appearance and dominance of these also follow a unique pattern in every person’s life just like the shoots of trees characterize each tree uniquely. Such a shoot can be any of the eight Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10), the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) or the properties of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

 

 

 

I wish the Reader that
you have more and more of the above good fruits in your life!

 

 

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