Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A sermon that deals with the current identity confusion that's growing in our culture. A look at the who we are in Christ, and how that message can help confused people.

I still want to land on my feet! Where are we going to land, in a world that’s upside down? That largely depends on if we’ve studied and practiced. I’m pretty sure it’s something that takes effort and a plan.

At birth, he was called Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo. Later, as an actor he became known to you as Alan Alda.

She was born Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov. I guess it’s less work to go by Helen Mirren.

Amos Muzyad Jahoob seemed to think that you would be able to remember him better if his name was Danny Thomas.

And I bet that you had more respect for Marion Robert Morrison as John Wayne!

The guy who really shortened up would have been called Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla. Rudolph Valentino was a lot easier to say.

And, I have to agree that Natalie Wood is a lot easier to say than Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko

Now, besides going by a different name, each of these people have something in common. What is it? Actors. They often go by a name other than the one their parents gave them. Actors or performers are people who make a living being something they aren’t. As a whole, they are a group of people who are also often confused about who they really are. Have you noticed that?

Michael Jackson was a real study in this. As a young star, age 18, he seemed a pretty average looking young man. Over the years, as he struggled with his identity and appearance, he had it altered, until he barely resembled the young man he had been.

I mentioned Rachel Dolezal a few weeks ago – the woman who was born “Caucasian” but who says about herself, “I identify as black.”

That was a new phrase to me a few months ago: “I identify as…” What does that mean?

I want to try something this morning. This is a part of the message where you get to talk to people around you. So, look around, find someone that maybe you don’t know real well, and tell him or her who you are. By the way, it’s name tag Sunday, so you may already see a name. Go a bit deeper. Who are you? Tell someone who you are.

Now, as you tried to explain to someone else who you are, what did you turn to?

You probably started with your name: I am _______. From there, though, how do you explain who you are? Maybe you have a title, like Dr., or maybe you are president of something. Maybe you focused on your last name – you know, some Ancestry.com stuff. Maybe you spoke about where you work, or where you used to work. Maybe you talked about where you were born, or raised. Some of you may have identified yourself as parent or grandparent of someone. Did anyone say, “I’m a Democrat, or a Republican”? Sometimes, without a word, we say something about our identity just by what we’re wearing. You may have a team name on you, or a company pin, or something like that. You may have turned to your religious affiliation – “I’m ____ and I’ve been a member here at CCC for 15 years.”

I once met a neighbor who lived in an apartment complex in Joplin. She was introducing herself to me and said, “I’m Mrs. ____, and we’re Pentecostals. Of course, you probably were able to tell that by my hair.” (It was all up in one of those beehive hairstyles). She believed it to be an identifying mark of who she is.

Let me point out that how you try to identify yourself isn’t the same as who you are. What you do for a living or how you dress isn’t really your identity. It’s something you do. You’ll notice that we speak of ourselves as “human beings,” not “human doings.” You might try to express that you’re a Cubs fan by wearing the T-shirt, but the shirt doesn’t change who you are any more than wearing a certain hairstyle makes you a Christian.

People turn to a variety of sources to try to identify themselves. Some believe their identity is all tied up in their sexuality. That’s been in the news a lot lately. This is Bruce Jenner, winning the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics Decathlon. Once considered one of the world’s greatest athletes, he is now considered the world’s most noticed transgendered person, assuming a new identity as Caitlyn Jenner, and even with his own TV show, “I am Cait.”

From the blog of Matt Walsh: “Lila Perry is a teenage boy at Hillsboro High School in Missouri. Apparently, he was a gay male until about ninth grade, at which point he decided he was actually a straight female. This is the sort of “revelation” that, in saner times, would land the confused young man in rigorous psychological and spiritual counseling. But these are not sane times, so instead it landed him in the girls’ locker room.” The little community of Hillsboro is in an uproar over the whole thing.

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