God is creative, continually bringing new things into existence. Creation not only began long ago, but continues today and into the future. Every new birth and every further development demonstrates that God is creative, seeking to bring new life into this world.
This creative God has described the consequences of this creation as “good.” Perhaps that is one reason why God’s creative activity generally follows a path begun long ago. God’s current creations connect to the past just as the work of Jesus connected to the promise to Abraham or as the risk of Esther connected to the promise of a nation. God’s creation connects to the past. When one perceives God’s creative work in the past, that person can move either with certainty in the present and with confidence into the future.
None should be surprised that identity is a key facet of moving with certainty in the present and with confidence into the future. Once a young adult has a good grasp on who they are, that person can begin to relate emotionally to others in positive ways and also can become productive in their life. Psychology teaches us this truth of identity and its importance.
In a similar way congregations experience life best when they come to know who they are. Such knowledge is complex, for there are many myriad parts of a congregation. Far too often, in our highly mobile and fragmented society, churches lose a sense of who they were and who they are. Change is always needed, but God’s change is most often built on an earlier foundation. Many change for the sake of newness, later finding themselves unattached from the past and uncertain of the future. Such experiences frequently result in frustration and loss, rather than in the unfolding of God’s creation.
The importance of self-knowledge, certainly for congregations, gives rise to the need to study courses that appear to be stale and tedious, such as Baptist History and Identity. Such is crucial for the congregations, as well as individuals and other groups. Each congregation needs to know who it is.
Still, congregations and other groups can discern how God created and developed them. Once they do so, they can relate intimately and productively with those they encounter. The self-knowledge is pivotal in order to become effective in the world. Once one knows where he/she is, that person can stand with God in confidence and productivity, whether they act as an individual or as the body of Christ.
– Robert D. Cochran, DCBC