Identity. Much discussion these days on our identity.
For many, over the past several weeks the focus has been whether there’s an (R) or a (D) after someone’s name. People so labeled by partisan politics that to attach a letter to someone is to attach a list of attributes to them that we “know” must be true about them — what they believe, how they’ll behave, the degree to which they should be trusted (or even respected). Leave politics and we’ve found other other ways to identify one another these days, such as masks or no masks, or where we stand on even uttering a three-word phrase like “Black Lives Matter.” Not to mention a culture increasingly bought into identity based on sexual or gender preference. What’s an ambassador for the kingdom to do? How do we navigate these crazy times when we know that the ultimate identifier which binds us all, rather than divides, is the Imago Dei — that all bear the image of the God who created them?
This morning, as I hover over the opening verses of 1John 3, I think part of the answer to how we work through identity with others in this world is to never lose sight of our own identity as believers. To know who we are.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.
(1John 3:1 ESV)
And so we are. Those are the words I’m chewing on this morning.
Called the children of God because WE ARE the children of God.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)
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 with our spirit that we are children of God.
(Romans 8:15-16 ESV)
Sons and daughters of God. That’s our identity. But our identity isn’t intended to primarily reflect everything about us. Who we are is meant to display something wonderful about God. As my favorite rendering of 1John 3:1 puts it:
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us . . .
What manner of love. What foreign kind of active affection. What unfathomable measure and quality of goodwill and benevolence. Sacrificial. Unconditional. Immutable. Eternal.
As we grasp who we are we plumb the depths of a transcendent love. We begin a lifelong exploration to comprehend a love that “surpasses knowledge” and is able to fill us “with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19).
Now we’re ready to engage an identity-confused world. Looking past the world’s labels and identifications, we can see the imprint of our beloved Father on every lost, confused, and broken soul. Knowing what it is to be loved with such manner of love, we’re compelled to share that love in hopes that God, in His kindness, would lead others to repentance also.
Children of God.
And so we are.
By His grace. For His glory.