In one of my favorite gospel readings, Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Some of them respond "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." Then comes the really important part. Jesus asks "But who do you say that I am?" Peter, who is sometimes thought of as the bungler, sometimes the one who just doesn’t quite get it, this time gets it perfectly! He says to Jesus, "You are the Messiah."
Identity was important for Jesus. Identity is important for us. Who are we as individuals? Who are we as Christians? There really isn’t just one simple answer.
One of the definitions in the dictionary for the word “identity” is “The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing (or person) is definitively recognizable or known:” Notice the word collective. Identity need not be just one word.
Earlier in the week I was talking to a friend about witnessing to others (do Episcopalians actually say “witnessing”?) and she pointed out it is easier when people come to you. Of course if you are wearing a clerical collar or a t-shirt that says I love Jesus, it is easier for the curious to be drawn to you. Anyway, I was thinking, is being a Christian part of our identity? Is this something that people can see right away?
As a gay man I am also interested in how sexual orientation plays a part in our identity. Is this something people might include when describing who it is we are? Would they include it the same way they might include eye color, gender, or heritage?
The identity of each of us is something that has evolved over time. We are not all the same. We don’t get a lot of comments here folks. Perhaps not a lot of people read this blog, but for those who do, what are your thoughts about identity? Who and what do you say you are?