One of my daughters recently learned of a personal moral “failure,” of someone she admired. As we talked I realized how seemingly permanent this failure was to my daughter. She was devastated and said she’d never look at this person the same. My daughter asked about my thoughts on the situation. I shared with her that my opinion of the person hadn’t changed. I also told her that her Father in Heaven didn’t look at us sinners in a condemning way when we know Jesus. God isn’t surprised at our sinfulness. We are.
Despite knowing the right theological answers regarding God’s grace, we sometimes live like we’re still keeping score, unconsciously seeking to gain God’s approval when we already have it. Furthermore, we also allow the enemy of our souls to use our sin to beat us down and define us by our transgressions. All of God’s wrath for my sins was poured out on His righteous Son. When Christ rose from the dead, He defeated the enemy. My sins, all of them. The sins of my past. The sins of my future. Jesus’ death on that cross paid the penalty for all of them.
My message to my daughter was this. Sin is serious. Sin has separated mankind from God. My sin separates me from God. But because He loves us…because He loves me, God made a way to restore our relationship.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Even though I took my ADHD medicine today, three different thoughts have jumped to the front of my cerebral cortex. Each of them relates to our names. Who or what names us?
The first thought was from a Seinfeld episode called “The Susie.” In this episode a co-worker mistakenly calls Elaine, Susie. Instead of correcting her, Elaine lets it go. From there it escalates to another level. Elaine’s life and identity is lost to someone who isn’t real/doesn’t exist. The second thought was from Donald Miller’s book, Blue Like Jazz. Miller describes a time he was dating a young lady he really liked. She liked him as well and communicated her feelings, but he just couldn’t believe it. He became obsessed with whether this girl liked him or not. Miller ended up speaking with a kind lady (Diane) from his church who helped him realize that he was “letting this girl name you.” She went on to explain that he was letting this girl define his value. Finally, the third thought was from my pastor Chris Hodges’ book, The Daniel Dilemma. In an early chapter Chris discusses the idea of identity theft. He tells how the Babylonians renamed Daniel and his friends with names that mocked their true identity and their relationship with God.
How does all this relate to the conversation I had with my daughter? As believers, our identities shouldn’t change based on the victories or falls we experience in our lives. The truth is that in Christ we bear His name and are adopted as loved children of God the Father. “Failure” is never final. Our falls should direct our gaze back to the One who has already forgiven us. In these moments we experience the amazing grace God has given us. Let us thank Him and depend on His power to work in and through us to sanctify us. Additionally, as believers, let us ask God to empower us to extend this grace to others when they fall. The body of Christ, the Church, needs to be a place where all of us broken, needy, children can go to be reminded of our true identity through the love, fellowship, and encouragement of our brothers and sisters. John 13:34-35 tells us to love one another as Christ has loved us. And, that by this (the love), the world will know that we are His disciples. Living as people who love and who know who we are, will truly make us salt and light in a dark and often, tasteless world.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.