A lot of people, perhaps not all, wrestle with this question.
Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my destiny?
Often the answer is “found” in what a person does: I am an accountant/miner/programmer etc.
In the church, we often find the answer is a similar way: I am a pastor/teacher/prophet/healer etc.
The problem is, all of that can, and will, be taken away.
Jobs disappear: Coal mines shut down, manufacturing industries move overseas
Spiritually, all of those “jobs” will cease.
When titles and roles are taken from us, or given up, how does that affect us? It can be hard, even for those of us who know these things are not, really, ‘us’! It can still feel like a loss, like a part of us has been cut off.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.1 Cor 13:8b-12
Building our identity on what we do is building on sand!
We need to build on the Rock: Jesus!
More, we need to understand that what we do does not determine who we are, rather, who we are determines what we do.
We ARE children of God. We are sons and daughters of the most high. We share in His divine nature.
That nature is Love.
And that is eternal:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.1 Cor 13 1-8a, 13
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Nothing can change this. No matter where we go or what we do. We come back dirty, in rags, having eaten pig-food, dejected, beaten down, lost, and what does the Father see? He sees his child, knows that clothing can be changed, skin washed, empty stomachs filled. He doesn’t care about those things. His child is home!
We are children of God. That is so much more than just being forgiven, more even than being granted access to heaven. It is a real, ongoing, vital relationship. Vital in the true sense of the word: Life-giving. Yes, we need to be forgiven, but the cross is the doorway into this new way of being, not its totality. It is how we are born, spiritually, but it is not the goal, the end, just the beginning. It makes us who we are, now we must work that out.
Look at Caleb. How he has grown and changed over the pandemic! And that is good and right. If he were still as he was when he was born, we wouldn’t be rejoicing today seeing him dance in praise, we’d be on our knees praying that God would intervene, would heal him, make him right. How many Christians are there who are stuck just as they were when they were born again? Even Paul saw the danger of this:
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.1 Cor 3:1-3a
Or, again, another writer
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.Heb 5:11-6:3
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.
There is great strength and confidence is truly knowing that we are children of God in a real, deep way. Even if (when?) we find ourselves in a dark, desert place, when all we did ceases to be possible or needed, when even God, himself, seems distant, we can stand firm and secure if we know deep inside that we are his, and that he is faithful and loving.
No matter how you argue with me, even if you beat and torture me, though you might get me to doubt many things, you won’t be able to convince me that my dad wasn’t my dad. I look a lot like him and sound like him (and like my brothers). That is true for my heavenly father too. Is it true for you?
We sometimes talk about being “born again” as though that just meant a fresh start, a wiped slate. But it is so much more: It involves a change of family, a new father, a new nature. Don’t settle with being forgiven. Don’t come and just stand in the doorway. Go through and into the house, the home, join the family, take your place as a son or daughter.