The psychologists of ancient Babylon understood this. When Nebuchadnezzar’s army brought back the young Israelite captives Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, they quickly changed their names to names that meant things like “command of the moon god” and “Bel’s prince.” Can’t you almost hear the Ph.D.’s plotting? “Give them new names, get them to see themselves as Baal worshipers. Once we have their identity, we have their souls!”
Before you dismiss ancient Babylon as pagan, morally bankrupt, and unenlightened, please take a look at the gods placed before our young people. Our celebrity “gods” embody the same pagan principles, living lives of excess, selfishness, licentiousness, and pride.
Humans imitate. For instance, Lady Gaga’s recent video, “Bad Romance,” has sparked a sharp increase in the sale of circle lenses—contact lenses that cover part of the whites of the eyes, making the eye look much more prominent. Authorities fill the news with warnings of their potential for causing infections and even blindness.
We identify with, then imitate, our role models. This phenomenon manifests itself in families, especially between children and same-sex parents. Mother role models for daughter, father for son. Daughter tends to identify with mother, son with father. Thank God for this; it creates a wide channel for parents to pass on their values to the next generation.
Our True Identity
But even the best parents can’t pass on to their children what our Heavenly Father can pass on to us in terms of identity. The best humans can do is still human. God can promise us a completely new, holy, victorious identity “in Christ.”
One psychologist describes conversion as, “a change in which the self becomes identified with the sacred.”1Paul said it this way, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I believe that we all have a place in Christ, a place we merely need to step into by faith. Then we can see ourselves in a new light—the light that streams from the heart of God, a loving Father who sees in His children endless possibilities.
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Jennifer Jill Schwirzer writes from the Pacific Northwest.
1. Kenneth Pargament, The Psychology of Religion and Coping, p. 248.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.