Identity Isn't Meant To Be A Secret: God Recalls and Remakes
July 13, 2016 | by: Dave Maniquis | 3 Comments
Posted in: Theology
Yippee! It’s official. The new Jason Bourne 2016 movie will be released on July 29th! I’ve always enjoyed the intrigue and thrills of the Bourne film series based on the character of Jason Bourne; a CIA assassin created by author Robert Ludlum and then brought to the big screen. Jason Bourne is a man trying to figure out who he really is or was—a search for his true identity.
In the first of this 5-part movie series, he gets injured during an ops gone bad at sea and finds himself washed up on shore stricken with amnesia unable to remember who he is. Through a series of events, he’s then led to a safe deposit box in a Swiss bank, only to find international passports with the name Jason Bourne. So, he assumes this identity. What else can he do? But now, to rub Mediterranean Sea salt in his identity wounds, he has to stave off a series of CIA assassins who try to off him because his most recent mission as one of their ilk was a flop. Obviously there’s no retraining programs. You get sopping wet, washed ashore? You die! Next. But this Jason Bourne is relentless. He must know who he really is.
In the next two sequels, despite all his remarkable survival skills he still needed someone or something from outside of himself to tell him who he actually is. And when he finds out he doesn’t particularly like what he finds. He’s a trained killer without a job. “But it is what it is.” So, where does he go from there? He just wanted to fade away and be left alone. But he couldn’t escape his past, his assigned identity and all his secret assassinations warehoused in his brain. The identity that the government created for him didn’t allow him to be free on his own terms; he couldn’t be trusted not to let it all out. “Neutralizing” him is the only option. He’s all “washed up” in more ways than one. He’s a threat. He could divulge a secret CIA assassination program. As a result he becomes a hunted man. “Turn yourself in” was the invitation to freedom by the CIA. Duh! Yeah…right! Eventually, he learns who he was before he was programmed as a killer and received his fabricated identity. However, it’s now at the cost of realizing he’s a man without a country, without hope of a “normal” life, without a mooring to certainty. So, in the end, this man’s life just remains on the margins of tentativeness. He may have washed up on shore but he’s still adrift.
Just movies, right? Actually it’s art imitating life. Because it’s a picture of how anyone can be mired in a seemingly endless search to discover who they really are. Of course, we all have a functioning identity. “I’m born to these parents, this is my birth date, this is my given name, that’s where I went to school, this is my job or profession, this is what I have a degree in, I’ve lived here or there, this is what I do, this is what I like, that’s what I dislike, and, yes, that’s a picture of me in the high school year book, etc.” It’s like having different colors of Play Dough. You squeeze them all together into one big ball but there’s one dominating color. There you have it. This is me. But we’re not quite sure that’s all there is to it. And perhaps we don’t even like the color we see. Some were elements created for me; others created voluntarily, by my part in it just like Jason. But that answer doesn’t really satisfy either does it? There’s something that whispers inside us that says, “You’re more than the sum of the parts.” It’s as if we have this amnesic condition that drives us to know who we really are underneath everything else that’s been piled on; even as good as so many of those things are in and of themselves.
“Location, location, location”….the mantra that everything will work out well, right? Well, Jason found the location where it all began. Where he was created to be an assassin and where he forfeited his true name and background. But so what? He’s still adrift.
We can know where we forfeited so much as well. But with a difference. The theology of creation and how and why God places people in it is something that God has revealed in the pages of Scripture. God didn’t create people to kill each other. He didn’t create them to even be rude to each other. We’re responsible owing to our disloyalty to God and to our distrust in his provision for our true identity in his likeness. We own the distortion of our original identity by giving an ear to a voice contrary to God’s character and his demonstrated goodness.
Yet, by his love, grace and mercy he revealed just who any of us were in the very beginning. We were created in his likeness in order to fulfill his image-bearing purposes (Gen. 1:26-27). However, with the fall of mankind everything fell, including the mind. People became amnesiacs. Sure, there are things they have remembered to do which have brought about great achievements by having “dominion over the earth”--- achievements that are used for healing and destruction, for good and evil. It’s a mixed bag, isn’t it?
However, Scripture teaches that God has provided an antidote to spiritual amnesia-- redemptive means to return us to our real identity. And to bring our achievements in alignment with his character; his good intentions. It’s discovered only in him through the God-man Jesus Christ—the third person of the Trinity. Jesus provides the means to be renewed in our God-given identity through faith in him. It’s a faith that cures the amnesia with which original sin has soaked our heads and hearts on land or at sea (Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 3:10). So much more happens for the Christian than it did for Jason Bourne. Because the person who is in Christ no longer needs to wander and worry about the future or suffer from extreme memory loss while trying to figure out who they are. For the Christian--for you--your identity is remembered and made full in the present and sealed for eternity. Jeremiah expresses a promise of God that has the power to guide the sincere seeker to their identity, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13, TNIV) By coming to God you find yourself.
Jason Bourne is a fitting metaphor for anyone seeking to find out who they really are; even for the person in their journey of faith in Christ. However, with a different twist. Jason now knows the answer to the question that had thrust him into a passionate and precarious search for his identity. Yet, there’s something terribly unsatisfying, unresolved, about the truth. He learns who he was. So what?
For the Christian when you find God, you too are recalled to your identity from outside of yourself. However, while having your identity recalled, God also redresses you and freshens you up as someone remade on the inside too. It’s the only satisfying resolution to an identity search--which is another way of saying that it’s a gift of love from God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17, TNIV)
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.