Identity is a means of confirming that a person or thing is what it/he says he is. All over the world we have discovered that there are some patterns or means of identity instituted by some re known leaders of politics, ideology and religion for their followers to emulate. In the bible the people were able to confirm the identity of Christ followers when they observed carefully their attitude and mode of behaviour.
There are various forms of identity. Some forms of identity are professionally imposed, some others are geographically necessitated, some are religiously imposed while others are just the result of followers trying to identify with the master. For example turban has become exclusively Islamic while heavy beard in today’s world has become mainly religious and political fundamentalist. In Nigeria small round spectacle and a small cap are exclusively for the (Awoist) followers of the sociopolitical ideas of late Obafemi Awolowo. A simple dress and an ascetic life-style has become the identity of those who follow Hindra Gandhi. Big vocabulary and attacks on capitalism as has become the symbol of the Marxist.
In Christianity also there are things that can be observed in the lives of those who claim to be Christians that would make it easier for you to identify the followers of Christ.
1. The Dressing Identity.
In Nigeria the traditional Western forms of dressing and simplicity is the hallmark of a good Christian dressing. If you see anyone wearing a suit on Sunday you can be seventy percent sure that he is going to the church and not the office.
Since God himself was the one who made the first dress for man we have to follow his idea of dressing. What is the original essence of dressing? (Gen. 3:10&21); And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
(Rev. 3:18.) I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Clothing is to cover nakedness and take away shame. it will run counter to what the bible teaches to see a christian who is well dressed to expose body parts.
How then should christian dress to show our identity? (Eccles. 9:8) ; Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Apart from covering nakedness, cleanliness is another virtue of christian identity. In Africa here there are certain things that helps to identify an insane person. some of these are the kind of hair-style. If your hair style is weird you might be mistaken for a mad person. Another is if a person is wearing a torn clothes: torn at thee knees and the elbows that would be a sign that his madness has gone beyond redemption.
Jesus was always well dressed to the extent that the Romans soldiers had to fight over his garment when he was crucified.
2. Behavioural identity
There are certain behaviour that are identifying where one belongs to. unruly behaviour is associated with football fans while discipline is associated with the military. Soldiers apart from discipline apart from discipline are very rugged and dedicated that is why the bible describes us as the soldiers of the cross. (2 Tim. 2:3). Our mode of behaviour should show the world the kind of person living in us. Matt. 7:16.
What then is our code of behaviour?
a. Humility: (James. 4:60). But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
b. Good conduct: (James. 2:18-20). Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
c. Kindness. Lev. 25:35; Eph. 4:32; (Col. 3:12). Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
d. Respect for others. (1Pt. 2:18). Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
e. Law abiding. (Rom. 13:7). Render therefore to all their dues:tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
3. Speech Identity.
If you meet a person for the first time the way he speaks to you tells you where he comes from. There are commercial speech used in the market places, there are street languages used by the street urchins and there are political languages used by politicians. Therefore when a Christian speaks from his language and choice of dictions it will not be long before you know who is speaking through him. Eph. 4:29,31-32; col. 4:6
The rules of christian communication are as follows:
a. Speak no corrupt words. (Eph. 4:29). And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
b. Never speak retardation to other people’s life. (Eph. 4:31). Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
c. Refrain from worldly language.(1 Tim. 6:20). O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called:
c. Speaking encouragement. (Col. 4:6). Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
4. Ideological Identity.
Ideology may be described as the body of doctrine, myth or belief that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group. The problem with Nigerian politics and I think it is true for most of the developing countries is that the parties here have no political ideology. A person that is well grounded in political ideology does not change political party when he fails to win an elective post or get a political appointment. It is therefore not out-of-place to ask every Christian to imbibe the Biblical Ideology or doctrine as a form direction and guidance toward acceptable Christian living.
The christian ideology/ doctrine states: Rom. 8:35-39
a. Christ is the centre/ nucleus of all our activity.
b. Salvation in Christ is a must. (Jn. 3:3). Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
c. Holiness is the watchword. (Heb. 12:14). Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
d. Heaven is our goal no matter what we have or that we do not have. (Mk. 8:36-37). For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
From the forgoing therefore I will like to introduce to you a man who understand the meaning of Christian ideology and the statement he made concerning it: Apostle Paul.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What are the things that you are presently going through in life that are threatening your relationship with Christ?
What are the new things in town trying to wrench you from Christ?
What are your new expectations that trying to severe you from Christ?
We all should be able to say to them all the word of Paul:Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Thanks and God bless you.