Just so you know, the lengthy blog below is not necessarily Biblically proven (I mean, sure, there’s a lot of Biblical truth in it, but there is no where in the Bible that says, “this is IT”, so please don’t think that this is that). These is just where I have currently landed on my understanding of the topic. If you have your own thoughts, please, I’d love to hear them.
“Can I see your I.D.?”
I walk up to the man in uniform, hand him my driver’s license and boarding pass and wait as he checks to make sure my I.D. is valid, my boarding pass is legit, and then waves me on with a polite gesture.
Really? This little piece of plastic that fits in my pocket tells you who I am? I mean, I guess the picture looks like me, I haven’t changed THAT much in the ten years since my picture was taken. So, since the picture and my face match-ish, than everything else on the little piece of plastic is accurate too. It is a sum of who I am.
My first name is Amy. My initials spell ALL (a detail I love!). I live where there are beautiful mountains. I have brown hair and brown eyes. And then, of course, the piece of plastic holds a few other details about me (like height and weight), and even more important numbers are on there – like my birthday, my driver’s license number, and the date when this particular piece of plastic will no longer be a valid source of knowledge for who I am (the expiration date).
But if you ask anyone who knows me, I am so much more than that tiny bit of information. I am daughter, sister, friend, mentor, leader, student, crazy-driver, brownie-baker, encourager, seamstress, writer, babysitter, and reader – to name a few. And those are just titles! That doesn’t even begin to go into the details – like what my laugh sounds like, or why or when I laugh for that matter. Or what my story with God is. It doesn’t tell you my favorite flowers, or favorite season, or favorite candy, or favorite movie, or what kind of music I like. Or whether or not I snore, or what hobbies I might have, or what makes me blush, or what I’m passionate about…and so much more. And all this stuff – this stuff that you can’t take from me (might change over time, but you can’t take it from me) – this is what makes me, me.
So, when someone comes up to me in church and says, “Your identity needs to be In Christ. You are Christ’s child.”…WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?
I’ve heard the general explanations: God loves me. I need to depend on Him for my validation, not my friends or family or the world.
But…WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!? Like, on a practical level, in everyday life. How is THAT my I.D.? I can’t simply make up a card with my face on it, my height and weight on it (just to make sure no one stole the little piece of plastic) and then put CHILD OF GOD across the top, with some pretty pearly gates in the background, since it will be issued by Heaven. Pretty sure the guy at the airport gate isn’t going to accept that as “valid”. Not that his opinion really matters. I don’t think of my Driver’s License as my actual identification (it’s just a brief, precise physical description). But still.
What does it mean to be a Child of God?
I know this much:
It means that He loves me enough for Jesus to come to Earth, live a perfect
life, die for my sins, defeat Satan’s claim over my life, and then, when the
time is right, usher me into Heaven.
Now, don’t get me wrong – that’s GREAT. But, it’s more than that
too. It means that, as His child, I love Him like my father…which
means loving Him so much I want to live a life that pleases Him and
brings Him joy. Which means living a life different than most people
around me live. It means living a life that is full of joy and grace and
love and patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, etc.
But that’s what I DO, not who I am. What I DO is a result of
how I see myself. SO, in order for those things above to
happen, I have to see myself and recognize that I am God’s
kid, the apple of His eye, that I have ahold of His
Which means, I think, that in order for me to practically, on a daily basis, understand what it means to be a child of God, to take those ambiguous three words as my identity, I need to see myself as He sees me…or as close as He’ll let me see myself as He sees me.
For example – growing up, whether or not we fully realize it – we learn to see ourselves as our parents see us (well, I think this is true. Technically I’ve only ever observed this phenomenon … oh, and I’ve lived through it as a kid. Never been on the parent part of this formula). But, if our father sees us as a nuisance, he’s going to treat us as such…and we will respond to that. If he treats us that way long enough, eventually, we will begin to realize He sees us this way, and it will become part of our identity, and from there, it becomes the source of our actions…and so (probably) we become an even bigger nuisance.
Now – quick note – not all parents realize how their actions are affecting their kids, nor understand how the messages they are sending are shaping their children’s identity. And, most often, the way parents treat kids is not in reaction to the kid herself, but to the parents’ own old wounds, scars, and beliefs. So, in cases like this, the child ends up believing stuff about herself which was never true, but had so much more to do with their parents’ wounds.
Okay – back to identity in God. We need to see ourselves as God sees us. If we understand that He sees the broken, ugly bits of us, but still loves us more deeply and purely than any human ever could, we’re going to view the world with a different perspective than if we believe that God sees us as a screw-up. And if we understand His love for us, than how we interact with the world will change. And this will change how we identify ourselves. We will know what it means to have our identity in Christ.
A butterfly is a butterfly is a butterfly whether or not she chooses to fly or to crawl along the ground like the caterpillar she used to be.
She IS a butterfly; that is her identity. She can’t change that. Nothing can take that from her. But it is not until she realizes she is a butterfly, spreads her wings and flies that she is embracing her identity.
You ARE a child of God, whether or not you want to admit it. But, it won’t be until you do admit it that you’ll be willing to recognize you even have wings. And then comes the process of spreading them, trusting the wind, and gliding. The process of being willing to believe that God loves you – unconditionally, just as you are. The process of learning to listen to Him, of following Him, of molding your life to His design. The process of realizing what it means to be His child.