My daughter sent me a picture of her new British passport.
Whilst it looked nice and shiny it didn’t look ‘new’, dark blue with a lovely gold crest it reminded me of the old style British passport that I was issued with when I first made a passport application. The first issue of the European Passport, burgundy and gold was made in 1988. Somehow the burgundy and gold didn’t have the same character of the ‘old’ passport with its distinctive blue cover and royal crest.
There are many people in the UK who would not have seen either the old or new style British passport; those who have only lived under the auspices of the EU. For those of us who chased getting stamps in their passport, who loved changing their money into the currency needed for the country they were visiting it all seems a bit nostalgic.
Underlying all of this of course is the question of Identity.
Identity is more than a traditional fingerprint. Fingerprints and DNA now form the back bone to ID.
Identity: who we are, how we are defined, our nature and our character, our values and culture. What gives us status and privileges? In Britain we have shared commonalities and yet distinctive backgrounds. Whether English, Welsh, Northern Irish or Scots we hold on to our distinctiveness, and yet we share many commonalities that allow us to live together; the British passport recognises this and supports the whole notion of British identity.
But is national ID enough?
My Scottish background means I look at the world through Scottish Calvinistic spectacles; you can take the man out of Scotland, but you can’t take Scotland out of the man. But is this my identity? Is this the identity I want others to make judgments about me – no Scottish jokes please! I often tell people that I see myself as a missionary to the English, it’s a tough mission but I am up for the challenge. And there is a little known fact that appears to be taught poorly in English schools; that Hadrian’s Wall was built to keep the Scots from marauding into England – we Scots know the wall was built to stop the English escaping into Scotland. Every now and again I go back to my homeland to top up on essential supplies and return to the mission field.
Back in the day whether I went to church or not, I was told I was Church of Scotland. Coming to live in England and being asked my religion I was told I can’t be Church of Scotland because I live in England; overnight it seemed I took on a new identity and was told I was now Church of England
But wait; there is a new challenge I had to confront, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come.”2 Corinthians 5:17
What is this idea? I am not the man I thought I was; no, I am the man God wants me to be. I gave up the old to take on the new. I am not even a man of the world anymore, but, rather I am a man of the Kingdom of God. This means when I ask the question, ‘who am I’? I come up with Kingdom answers.
This new identity requires some serious thinking: I am asked to consider others, to do nothing out of selfish ambition, or vain conceit; in humility consider others better than myself. Looking not only after my own interests, but also the interests of others. (Phil 2:3) I have become a son, God sent the Spirit of his Son into my heart whereby I call God ‘Abba Father’. I have been elevated from the old into the new.
I have eminent position in a new place; I have become part of the Kingdom of God, a chosen person, a part of the royal priesthood and the holy nation, of a people belonging to God. My human passport does not limit my identity, the cross and resurrection is my passport; I now have my passport into the Kingdom of God, and to ‘Go’ into the world.
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people…” The loops and whirls on my fingertips, my DNA provide a human form of ID, but when God chose me, what a good choice he made.
Image Credit: George Prentzas