“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10
The problem with “cultural Christianity” is that Christians are looking more like “culture” than like Christ. What do I mean? Well, it wasn’t long ago that calling yourself a “Christian” was socially beneficial. Going to the right church could even land you a good job or access to the right social circles. Whether you truly followed Christ or not, it was advantageous to identify as a Christian – even if you were a “cultural Christian.”
Not so today. In fact, in many areas of society, it may even be viewed negatively to identify as a follower of Jesus – too old fashioned, conservative, or narrow-minded. Faced with so much opposition, how do we respond to this rapidly changing culture?
This is where our identity becomes key. Who are we in Christ? Peter offers us a few powerful descriptors: chosen, royal, holy.
You see, our identity is not built upon what we DO – our career, our social circle, our accomplishments – but on what has been done FOR us. This is the good news of the Gospel! We’ve been rescued by God’s love and grace. Salvation is through Christ alone. And when we recognize this incredible gift and choose to follow Christ – it changes our identity.
We begin to view life as a temporary layover on the journey to an eternal home with Christ. So, the current economic environment, the complex social issues plaguing the nation, and all the pain and suffering on a global scale: it’s not the end of the story. Through Christ, we have an incredible hope even in the face of economic or political uncertainty and fear.
It’s time to embrace our true identity in Christ as a picture of God’s love and grace. It’s time for our words and actions to be a voice of hope in a culture consumed by fear. It’s time to replace this “cultural Christianity” for the real thing.
Are you ready? Trust in Jesus and embrace the gift of a new identity firmly grounded in what He has done for you!
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor George Wright
Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C.