My identity, hidden in Christ
When I walked into the Champion office the first time this semester, I was enveloped by the stench of disappointment from my coworkers.
Because I, like Aslan in the beloved story, had my mane shaved off.
That’s right. I got a haircut.
The day was just a blur. I probably shed a few tears as the thousands of hair snippets shot off my head, careening toward the ground, crying out, “We were once part of something beautiful, and now, the majestic mane is lost.”
Now, rewind to the earlier days of summer, when the luscious locks were still intact, when the hair trailed down to my shoulder blades, when it bounced and blew and flew in the wind: I went on vacation to Cape May, New Jersey, with my family. We went to all our favorite restaurants, per usual, and this year specifically, I decided to try out the different crab cakes that the city has to offer.
Guys, I ate an unholy amount of crab meat. (Just a heads up, don’t ever eat three meals of crab in a week; let’s just say it’s a good thing God comforts the broken in spirit.)
I was at one of these fine dining establishments, relaxing, sipping on my coffee and water while munching on my crab benediction. I sat next to a wall in a booth, so that any passersby could only see my profile.
The meal slowly came to a close. I was scooping up my last few bites. I paused for a moment to soak in the morning, savoring the good food, enjoying the day. Then, I hear the voice of the waitress:
“Are you still working on that, ma’am?”
At first, I thought nothing of it. I mean, I’ve got a mother and a sister sitting in front of me; surely the waitress’s question was directed at one of these two lovely ladies, and they would reply at any minute now.
They did not reply.
No, friends, they did not. For I was the lovely lady to whom the question was directed.
I turned toward the waitress, and our eyes met. When she noticed my masculine features — my chiseled jawline, my strong brow bone, my (insert other features that Google says are “masculine”), my Channing Tatum-esque figure — she realized her mistake immediately and profusely apologized.
I saw the waitress tell her manager something, so embarrassed that she was close to tears, and he let her stay in the back for the rest of our meal. I thought the whole ordeal was so funny, and I didn’t care that I was called “ma’am.”
If there’s ever been an issue that’s taboo in our society, it’s gender. But I don’t believe it’s just gender that gets everyone on edge. This culture is suffering crises in all areas of identity, whether it’s race or sexuality or political standpoints or whatever. We love to put our identity into all sorts of these issues.
Let’s switch courses for a minute and look at how identity pertains to us Christians. Colossians 3:3 states, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What does it mean to have your life “hidden” with Christ?
It means that no matter what, the very core of you is no longer bound to the things of the world, and the world can’t reach your identity because it can’t find it anymore. Christ pulled you out of the world and hid you with him, so no matter how many games of hide-and-seek the world wants to play with your identity, you remain unfound because of Christ’s great work on the cross.
How should we respond to such a beautiful and core-changing action?
Well, first, if there is some outward thing in your life that is causing you to think of yourself as anyone different than whom God has created your inward person to be, cut it out of your life.
And if someone offends your identity, dear Christian, know that it is not you whom they are offending. Don’t just take my word for it. Take Christ’s, the one in whom your life is hidden: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). God gladly bears the offenses against his people. He knows the world’s claims don’t hold water.
Back to my hair: Here’s the long and short of it (clever, eh? because it was long and I got it cut short? yeah, that’s clever): I like my hair at all sorts of lengths, long or short. Having long hair does not make me think of myself as anything different than a man of God, and looking like macho man Channing Tatum with a buzz doesn’t change my perspective on whose I am either.
Keep in mind whose you are, and keep in mind what Christ’s word says about you. You may feel that your identity is being pulled in all sorts of directions, but remain rooted in him who is your true identity, and feel free to laugh when people, whether intentionally or purposefully, try to poke at your now-hidden core.
Gilmer is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X