The popular RTE television programme delves into the background of its subject. Aided by the largely excellent record keeping of church, state and military it is now possible to explore the life’s history of one’s ancestors. The media, recognising our inherent inquisitiveness, have used the opportunity to research willing celebrity’s backgrounds.
The usual format is to work on the history of one parent and then when the trail ends transfer to the other parent and carry out a similar exercise. The information gleaned from the various sources produce interesting insights into the person’s past. The results are not always flattering and in some cases well guarded family secrets are exposed for all to see. The work is thorough and no stone is left unturned. What is it about identity that we find so fascinating? Questions unasked in childhood can return to haunt us in later years when those who could answer them are no longer with us. Misinformation can creep into the family understanding and, over time, a myth can become established as fact! Add into the mix a bit of stereotyping and a category of ‘things not spoken about’ develops!
Of course you can have more than one identity. Most of us can recognise the person who is a tyrant at work and an angel at home – or vice versa! Another may wear a mask for church and drop the mask when back in the domestic scene!
The Bible was written to show us who God is. He reveals himself as the creator of all and the redeemer of his people. His personal qualities are revealed in his dealings with Israel and supremely in Jesus Christ we have the exact representation of his being (Hebrews Chapter 1 verse 3).
In Jesus we see an identity revealed. He was with God in the beginning. He was the living Word. Everything God was the Word was. He was the light of men. And that light has a discriminating function in that it shows where everyman stands in relation to Jesus (St John Chapter 1 verses 4 to 9).
The glory of the Christian identity is revealed in the phrase Child of God. One who can call God his father. One who is in the family of God and can call fellow believers his brothers and sisters.
The rebellious identity inherited from Adam and developed through countless ages, when confessed and renounced makes way for the new identity. This comes by faith in Jesus, being born again by his Spirit and leading a new life as a Child of God (St John Chapter 1 verses 12 and 13).