When I went to college I chose to attend a military college. I really enjoyed being there, but there was one major problem. Whenever I and many of my fellow cadets wanted to go downtown, we didn’t want people to know we were military cadets. It was only a few years after the end of the Vietnam War. Some people made fun of military men. In addition, when we were away from the military academy we wanted to relax and be like everybody around us.
However, all of us cadets stuck out like a sore thumb. We were all 18-20 year old men. We had to wear our hair short. We used military jargon without realizing it. Finally, even when we went downtown we had to wear our uniforms.
But we tried to hid who we were. We would break the regulations and wear civilian clothing. We would try and grow our hair out longer, if we could get away with it. If not, we would wear baseball caps. We would consciously try not to use military terms and jargon. We wouldn’t travel in large groups, but only go out with one or two other guys. We wouldn’t visit places that were popular hangouts of cadets.
Sometimes it didn’t work. People would recognize who we were. We might pay a bill, for example, and the cashier would say, “Can I see your military ID?” Others might make a comment about how they didn’t like military people.
However, other times we were successful. People would not realize that we were military men. Perhaps they didn’t care or perhaps they didn’t let on that they knew who we were. Whatever the reason, we were always happy when we spent a night on the town and were treated like “normal” 18 year olds.
But even when we were “successful” in hiding who we were, one thing never changed. At the end of the night, we always returned to the Academy. The next day we would be wearing our uniforms, without baseball caps. We would return to using military language. We would be surrounded by hundreds of other cadets.
To put it simply, even when we acted differently and tried to hide our identities, who we were never changed. We were still young men in the military.
The book of 1 John tells us who we are as Christians. It tells us that we are born again from a perfectly holy Father. We are literally the children of God. John puts it this way in 1 John3:1: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”
When we live righteously, we reflect who we are as children of a righteous Father. However, we can live in a way that hides who we are. We can put on different “clothes,” talk in a different way, and hang out with those who are not children of our Father. The world may very well fail to see our true identity.
But we cannot change who we are and who our Father is. What I did in college was harmless. However, when we as Christians live in such a way as to deny who we are, it is not harmless. First John tells us when we do that we are out of fellowship with the Father. In addition, we will be ashamed when we appear before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
I also have a confession to make. Looking back on my years at the Academy, I was proud of who I was. As Christians we should value the fact that we are children of a holy and loving Father and live like it.