Who We Are in Christ
By Aamir Shahzad
One may define identity as the distinctive characteristic belonging to any given individual, or shared by all members of a particular social category or group.
When I see myself as a Christian in Pakistan I sometimes wonder if I am meeting the criteria to stay rooted in the identity that Christ has given me. Often, I find myself short of meeting the prerequisites, which is a sad fact due to the general security situation in the country and persecution that the Church in particular is faced with.
Our identity as God’s children, a status that we enjoy through Christ, is slowly diluting because we have become indistinguishable as Church. Either we are doing as everyone else does and we have adopted the culture of the world, or our uniqueness in Christ is limited to ourselves and we do not dare to bless those outside the Church because of fear.
A few years back I was at an interfaith gathering, which was attended by both Christian and Muslim clerics along with people from civil societies to defuse the tension arising from an armed attack on and burning down of a Christian settlement that killed a number of innocent people. While all the Muslim clerics were condemning the brutal attacks and were recognising the great service the Christian community has rendered to the nation especially in the field of health and education, a representative of the civil society stood up and categorically denied any sacrifice and love shown by the Pakistani Christians towards their Muslim neighbours, saying that it was the Christians from the West who did that sacrificial service.
This filled the room with discomfort and many Christians started defending their position, but I was totally convinced with the statement and it provoked me to think deeply that unless we as a body of Christ start living out the gospel in our daily life which demands love and sacrifice towards our neighbours, we will not be able to make people see Christ through us. This also highlights the general understanding that the mission work is only associated with the missionaries from the West. Sadly this notion is not only held by someone from another faith but is also a widespread local Christian understanding.
The time has come for us to take the responsibility and start sharing God’s love to advance His kingdom on earth in a way that we are seen as partakers of God’s mission by people around us because this is where our identity comes from.
It reminds me of:
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Aamir Shahzad is the Pakistan Country Coordinator of AsiaCMS.