God’s kingdom, (mentioned by Paul) which transcends all other organisations, the members of which worship Christ her king, need ‘room’ in order to flourish ‘in the present evil age'(Gal.1.4), agencies in education, literature and society. The growth of such a kingdom, God’s kingdom, creates effects in society, as you would expect, but not of a worldly, political character. Politics should not enter the life of Christ’s kingdom, which is not of this world. As our Saviour said ‘ render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’. (Mark 12.17)
You may be puzzled by references in the media to what is referred to as the ‘woke’ position in cultural matters (in a wide sense). Currently, this attitude aims in securing power over of one group in society over other groups. This might involve the ‘cancellation’ of a book, or the arguing for ‘equity’ between individuals or groups, to secure similar outcomes for one group to another, or more choice of kinds of gender. Each of these is described by their advocates as advances and achievements in building their ‘personal identity’. universities, colleges, retailers (such as Amazon), leisure centres and charities, are all positioning themselves to further ‘woke’ values.
This post has two aims, first to note the direction of the trends of the various woke sensibilities, and then what the attitude of Christian believers ought to be.
First, a word about what is meant by ‘personal identity’ by such woke advocates. This is not bearing the social class that a person occupies, as in the ‘working class’, or the ‘ruling class’ or ‘the elite’. Woke activity is not part of the ding and dong between Left and Right as they seek more votes, but as engaging in what George Orwell called ‘the capture of power’. It is not a change in the strength of a social class nor is it a matter of metaphysics, an inquiry into what makes for the identity and the changes of an individual person. In the make up of the woke a person’s goals may be so strong that they come to be is intrinsic to the identity of that person, hence the phrase ’person identity’.
Interestingly, Christians will be familiar with the woke use of ‘personal identity’. For becoming a Christian has to do with the acquiring of a new nature, with new goals and ambitions, and repudiating others. Christianity begins with the new birth, the new creation, a transition between the ‘old man’, and the possession of the ‘new man’. This is not identity acquired by by the pressure of either political or social power, nor even by legislation. Such a transition is solely due to the grace of God in the soul. ‘Adoption’ is another New Testament way of charactering this all-important transition.
‘For all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba! Father! The Spirit himself bears witness to with our spirit that we are children of God’. (Romans 8 15-16)
Not slaves, but sons and daughters. This is not the everyday adoption of a young person, which involves a mere a civil transaction. Life as a spiritually adopted child is not immediately perfect. For the new nature fights the old, remaining nature. The Christian has the promise of a new destiny, where and ‘when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is’ . and that alone will suffice for such to have a completely new identity, when he sees Christ as he is. (I Peter 3.2) Paul wrote
You can see that‘ woke’ behaviour and its character is rather different from Paul’s recipe for personal change as a Christian. For though the language is war-like, and the Apostle to the Gentiles has a deadly enemy, Paul’s weapons are spiritual. He goes on in this passage, v.15f. ’our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged’.
Christian standards and the woke
In this matter of the pressure that ‘wokeism’ exerts we need to contrast it with the standards of the New Testament. For Christians, as when Paul taught that food that has been offered to idols may be eaten by believers with a good conscience.