You are made by God and you are called good. You are made in the likeness of God and you reflect God’s image. Although this image has been distorted through sin done by you and to you, God has not forgotten who you are and whom God made you to be. God knew you before you were born, named you before you were even formed in your mother’s womb. In love, God has chosen you and the Holy Spirit works ceaselessly to restore the unique God-image you alone can reflect. – The Mentored Life
At his baptism, Jesus was named
- child of God
- God’s delight
When you follow Jesus into the anointing waters of baptism, you also are named
- child of God
- God’s delight
Every person will express his or her God given identity in a way that is unique to them, but these three names form the essential truth about our identity.
Growing into this identity is the “stuff” of our life of discipleship.
“What God’s voice tells us is the true story of God’s incredible love for us. No other storyteller, however gifted, can paint for us the full, living portrait of who we are and have been and who we are becoming. Let us listen attentively, lest we forget and try to remake ourselves according to some other image.” from Magnificat
“God is who He says He is, and I am who God says I am.” Anonymous
Who are you? You are God’s beloved child, in whom God delights. Enough.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
At an unknown time Jesus will return from heaven to gather his saints, living and dead. It will come as a surprise to many, but not to us. Why? We live with our bags packed, ready to depart and join Jesus at any moment. We are alert and watchful, eagerly awaiting this joyous reunion.
So, encourage one another with these words:
You are God’s beloved. This is the beginning and the end of your identity.
You live in God’s bright daylight. The sun has risen on a new day for you. Look around, see the wonder of the world born anew. Let the energy of the new morning wake you to God’s promise of an unfolding adventure. Don’t oversleep!
You are done with the night. Darkness and shadows have no place in your life any longer. They promise you pleasure or the easing of your pain. They lie; they mute God’s love and harm you.
Your heart is guarded by faith in God’s promises. It is protected by God’s love. Wear faith and love as you would a coat. Trust in them as a police officer trusts in a bullet proof vest. They are the best defenses against harm and the best means of living joyfully.
Your mind is at peace because of hope. When doubt assails, remind yourself of God’s good news. Salvation has been realized. You are safe in Jesus now and forever. This is your destiny.
Who do you know that needs encouragement today? Perhaps they may feel as if the dawn will never come; or they have a heart that refuses comfort; or they doubt their value in God’s kingdom. (Maybe that someone is you.) Make a point of encouraging them with these truths from 1 Thessalonians. In so doing, you are building up the Body of Christ.
Written for CBC’s weekly devotional
There is a man in my neighborhood who is so bent with osteoporosis that he walks with his head permanently fixed at a right angle to his body, his face continually downcast. I’m sure this was not always his posture; his curved spine has robbed him of the ability he once had to lift his head and look straight ahead. Age, illness and poor habits conspired to bend him into this permanent disfigurement and disability.
As it is with his body, so it is with your soul. God’s love created you to stand upright with your countenance looking ever upward and forward. But sins done by you and done to you have bent you into a shape that you were never intended to experience. You may look at your life and see a sin-bent figure of bad habits, poor attitudes, and out of balance emotional reactions, but God sees through the bent-ness to the flawless and perfect child he chose as his own. He has not forgotten who you are!
You are a dusty and grime coated painting found in the family attic and discovered to be priceless when examined by the experts on “Antiques Roadshow!” You are a bedraggled and threadbare stuffed bear, whose true value is recognized only by the child who cherishes it! You are a ticket on the 50 yard line of the Superbowl, prized by only a true fan who would tolerate the subzero weather for the love of the game! You are God’s beloved and battered child!
It’s not that God isn’t aware of the ways sin has bent you, God’s love is not blind. It’s just that his vision of you knows the whys and the causes of your bent-ness and remembers who you were created to be. You were created to be loved perfectly. And even though your parents loved you the best they could, they fell short of perfection. Each of these violations of love harmed you, bent you. Some violations were minor and relatively reparable by forgiveness and good intentions. Some were tragic and caused extended harm and a disfigurement of some fashion, forcing a compromised physical or emotional posture.
These violations of love set you up to live defensively, either trusting no one or excessively trusting everyone. Such an out of balance, self-oriented lifestyle can only lead you to choices that in turn cause you to violate love. The sin done to you caused you to sin against others. That’s our reality.
Praise God though, that is not the end of the story. Remember, God knows the pain of having to walk bent over (imagine how his back ached while carrying that heavy cross.) We’ll talk more about this in my next letter.
With you in the journey,