Doreen and I were blessed tremendously having attended the Gospel Identity Seminar/Conference just concluded in Redeemer church in NYC taught by Dr. Tim Keller. I have to say that we were blown away by the followings:
Modern Identity–I didn’t realize that there is such an identity all this time. In my mind, it’s gospel identity, worldly identity, and pretty much it. But this opens up a new dimension to me. Basically we can’t divorce ourselves from the modern culture we live in today because we are part of it. Most Christians have a mixed bag of modern identity and gospel identity and also traditional identity. I didn’t realize how strong the “Traditional identity” has been planted in my life. Coming from Asia and raised in Pentecostal church background, conservative traditionalism is a very strong and real factor. This actually clashes with a lot of the modern culture and liberal culture of the West today like in America. It’s generally frowned upon by the liberal society. Example: Our traditional identity says that we get our affirmation from our family. This is definitely a very true thing in most Asian families. In my case, we adhere strongly to that. Pride to the family etc. But the modern identity says you get your affirmation or validation from inside of you. You only look inside of you and take whatever that is important to you, and you decide. You are basically your own boss. But the ironic thing is, this kind of mindset is also seeking validation from all the people outside whom you think are important. The pressure is enormous, because you are constantly seeking validation from outside. Odd?
So example: I believe most Christians have a mixed bag of modern & gospel, or worse still modern and traditional. Modern says, it’s okay to be blended into the secular West and adopt some of their cultural preferences or creed like dating non Christians, abortion, cohabit, homosexuality. Christians envelope and embrace them and become the “modern” Christians. Or what’s called the “Progressive” Christians. Whereas people like me from the traditional evangelical background are against all those mentioned and rightly so in the bible.
Gospel Identity says, it’s neither conservative nor liberal, but it’s centered on Christ. It says we love and care for the poor, serve the City, and also stand for the righteousness of God which means those mentioned above are not acceptable in the sight of God. However, the difference is, the approach to this is far more organic and divinely empowered. Its also far more beautiful in my mind. It’s the holiness of God and his love for us that drives our decision and judgment of life. Because how we live is a response to God’s love towards us and his redemption and renewal in this world, and we are part of that story. It’s a beautiful love story that melts us together, and not the legalistic laws that condemn and direct us on how to live. In other words, we do it not because we have to, but rather we want to (compelled by his love). That is Gospel centered, and that’s what Christians today must understand and embrace, and the world needs to know that.
Secondly, gospel identity seeks validation neither from within us nor from families. But seeking validation from the one who has already validated in front of our Heavenly Father, the Almighty God. Our validation in Gospel Identity is complete. And this becomes incredibly liberating and empowering to live a life that’s far more gracious, humbled, and loving. Humbled because its never been done by your merit being obedient etc., but rather on the obedience and accomplishment of Christ.
So be very careful about Modern Identity for its subtle and almost becomes a norm even among Christian circles. But Gospel Identity is the real deal.