Baseball player Frank Treef had been a Chicago Cub for five years. During those years, Frank became a well known and respected Cub. He played a mean first base. He had enviable rapport with the Chicago press. He also knew what topics to ignore in public discourse. He was a baseball player, not a political wannabe.
With five good years as a Cub, a day on the calendar finally indicated that Frank was a free agent. For reasons not fully known to the public, Frank was picked up by the Cleveland Indians. Since Cleveland is in the American League, and Chicago Cubs are in the National League, Frank would now be playing against different teams. Of course, now Frank’s checks come from the Indians, not the Cubs. His new boss is not the Cubs’ manager Lopez, but Slaughter, the Indians’ manager.
There are also deeper changes for Frank. He now dedicates his energy and creativity to the success of the Indians, not to the Cubs. He wears an Indians’ uniform, he reads the Indians’ signals from the first and third base coaches. Frank’s financial and athletic identity is that of a Cleveland Indian, although on a personal and emotional level he still needs some time of looking in the mirror and seeing a baseball player for the Cleveland Indians. After all, 5 years with Cubs, with all the memories of those years, isn’t an identity to be shed from one moment to the next.
Now that Frank is an Indian, certain historic events in the Indian franchise that predated his joining the Indians, events in which he historically played no part, now have become important. For example, if in 1900 Charles Somers and Jack Kilfoyl had not founded in the year the Indians, Frank wouldn’t be a Cleveland Indian ball player today. As can be seen by the dates, the Indians were already playing baseball before Frank was ever born. The team existed before Frank did, but now the history of the Indians will include Frank as one of a line of first basemen for the Tribe.
Allow me to make the transition from this analogy –
By becoming a Christian, I became part of a historical movement that predates me by about 2000 years. As a Judeo-Christian monotheist, I am part of a historical movement that predates me by about 4000 years. Moral decisions made over those thousands of years, spiritual modeling that happened over those years, a passion for truth that was part of that movement for those thousands of years, etc., all have become part of who I now am.
I would not be a Christian without Jesus having died and come back from the dead. I would not be a Christian if Jesus’ death and resurrection did not, in some way, include me. I gain nothing by ignoring, either consciously or unconsciously, the reality of the Christian movement, a reality of which I am a part, a historical reality that marks my identity.