Orange-Strawberry-Banana = Energetic
Sensation Lemon-Lime = Free-Spirited
Sensation Watermelon = Funny
Pineapple = Independent
Orange-Pineapple = Bold
Orange-Pineapple-Banana = Playful
Orange-Peach-Mango = Daring
Given that I’m reading this off the side of an Orange-Peach-Mango box, I guess I’m classified as daring (there’s a secret irony to that). What exactly is it about drinking Orange-Peach-Mango flavored apple juice (read the ingredients, that’s basically what it is) that classifies me as “daring”? My juice box refuses to tell. It’s got me thinking, though.
What is it that so fascinates us with labels? By that I mean, why are we so enamored with being connected to something, having a “familiar spirit”, so to speak? Everywhere online these days people are taking quizzes to find out “which color are you?”, “which car are you?”, “which LOTR character are you?”, “which species of South American tree slug are you?”… the list is infinite. In some circles it’s popular to ask, “what’s your sign?”, and often people place a tremendous sense of importance in the answer, and for some it is even a source of pride to be able to say, “I’m a Leo”, or “I’m a Pisces”.
In certain cultures it is/was popular to assign each person an animal totem when they came of age (ever seen the movie, “Brother Bear”?). Other cultures have been more fond of finding a connection to one of the four elements; for example: in the East it’s earth, air, water, and fire (and sometimes wood), and in ancient Greece and Rome it was black bile (melancholic), blood (sanguine), phlegm (phlegmatic), and yellow bile (choleric). Heck, even Roman Catholicism in some cases identifies people with a certain patron saint or another (some Romanists actually carry mini statues of their favorite patron saint around with them – now if that’s not idolatry I don’t know what can be).
My point is, it really seems like we are, as a race of human beings, looking for an identity. Everyone wants to be represented by something. Everyone wants a personal symbol or sign that identifies something about them. Everyone wants to know that they have an identity – not one merely internal and subjective, but an identity connected with something outside of themselves, one external and objective – that they can look to and know, “That represents me. That tells you something about my person. That’s what makes me who I am.”
If that isn’t true, tell me, why all the folks taking these online quizzes and trying to discover what style of shoelace they are? Where’s the draw? What is it that motivates us to engage in something so stupid and mindless if it is not an attempt to discover something about ourselves, something objective and external to give to the world that says, “This is me”?
Of course it’s true.
So what am I getting at? Only this: we are absolutely right in being this way. We do need some external banner to rally to. We do need something external to give us an identity – the internal is too hard to communicate to others and darn it, it’s just too subjective. We do need something objective and outside of ourselves that we can point to and know ourselves, and for others to know, “That thing defines me.”
But it’s not an online quiz where some faceless someone gets to tell you which sea mammal you are. It’s not in the star-searching of the zodiac. It’s not in some elemental affinity or animal totem. It’s not even what kind of juice you drink.
What is your sign, dear Christian?
The sign of the cross, upon which the Son of God purchased you for eternity, made over your head at baptism.
What is your external source of identity, the thing that defines who you are, dear Christian?
It is your baptism, which placed the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, on your person forever.
And what is your identity, dear Christian?
“Beloved, we are God’s children now.”
– 1 John 3:2a