Transcended Identity

Year C – Easter 5  | Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Season 2, Episode 23

Identity has become an issue in public discussion. Politics, business, and religion have encouraged the conversation. It is interesting how the term “identity” is simple in and of itself. It is the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. However, the term is now complex. It incorporates a sociological aspect. In social science, the individual’s identity is strongly associated with the collection of group memberships that define them.

The Easter story continues through the Acts of the Apostles. Its story transcends the entire notion of social identity. Scripture does not deny the existence of social identity but instead teaches God’s Spirit transcends social identity. Peter recognises the categories of “Jew” and “Gentiles” and admits associated identity. He is taught that in Christ, there are no distinguishing categories. God transcends identity.

The Psalmist encourages multiple identities to praise the Lord. Non-humans, heavenly bodies, and elements forming creation are corralled for universal praise. The Psalmist adds to this choir earthly elements, surface features, and earthly creatures. The Psalmist completes the musical participants with peoples of different identities. The end result: identity is transcended to form a unified praise to God.

The bible ends with a beautiful picture of transcended identity. A new heaven and new earth is portrayed as a place with no tears and no death. The beginning of creation will end with a new beginning. God’s peoples will dwell together with a transcended identity. 

John’s Gospel reminds us that God is glorified in Christ. All identities can find God through Jesus. And once they do, their identity is transcended to form a new universal identity. The new identity is revealed when God’s people love one another.

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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