This weekend I was lucky to be part of my wife’s family reunion. It centered around a core group of siblings ranging in age from 89 to 70 (my wife’s Grandmother is 86.) There was lots of eating and story telling but a great moment for me was during a family prayer time. Each member of the older generation shared a verse from the bible and implored the younger generations to seek God in prayer and right living. It was a picture of a Godly heritage, scared and tried, that will prayerfully continue to be handed down through the generations.
Looking at this family, I was drawn to reflect on identity and how we allow who we think we are to shape our lives. For some of us we are defined by our work, some our experience, and others our family. The is so much that can shape our identity but most of it is wrong and misplaced.
John 1 provides the starting point for Christian in the formation of their identity.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:12-13 ESV)
This is the adoption of believers into God’s family. our identity as Christians is in Christ alone, that is how we are to be known and how we should know ourselves. Our enemy attempts to deceive us into believing that our identity is something different but we can rest in the knowledge that we are children of God. Our identity stops there – of God.
I know that I often need to be reminded what my identity is. Having a career in communications, I have spent a decade defining and giving identity to issues and campaigns to make them look appealing to the public. In that expertise I would turn on myself and present a facade of my identity. But this was all fluff and even when culture would argue that my identity should be defined by some other characteristic, I have to return and embrace my identity in Christ.
To that end Revelation give us a reminder and something to look forward to. As Jesus is giving instruction to the seven established churches he reveals a moment I greatly look forward to.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17 ESV)
This moment we are given a new name, one defined by our heritage in Christ, will be unlike any other. The hope that is in that little white stone should drive us to “conquer.” If we need our true identity and hope for that new name, we can have it today. Jesus came to a broken and sinful humanity as a sacrifice for us, a way to a new identity. If we repent of our sin against God – our pride, our idolatry – and believe that Jesus is who he said he was – God among us, a sacrifice for us and a resurrected Lord- we are part of this family. I pray that today you have to confidence of adoption of God.
This family is huge and diverse but I promise we will one day have the ultimate family reunion!