Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our family identity

I caught her again Saturday, still clutching the hastily eaten tube of toothpaste. This is the third tube this weekend. My discipline arsenal is exhausted. She’s bought more toothpaste with her own carefully saved aquarium money. She sat in time out until she fell asleep. Frustration sags my frame.

“Why are you doing this?” Two concerned parents sit down with the wayward three year old.

“Because I sneaky. I your midnight ninja.”

That silly nickname I made up one morning after she crawled into our bed in the middle of the night without waking us. How could I guess that she would own my joke as her identity.

“You are not sneaky,” her daddy replies. “You are our Sweet Afton. You are a good girl.”

Talking and more talking ensues. Talk with her about who she is. Our girl. Our sweet, big hugging, hard loving, good girl.

More talk with each other about how we present identity to our kids. We are in an uphill battle to build their frame of reference, how they see themselves and the world around them. Our task is to give them a Biblical frame in the face of a society with a fundamentally different understanding.

In society, what you do determines who you are. You bank, therefore you are a banker. You blog, therefore you are a blogger. We wear these activities like so many name badges, creating an identity. 

In God’s kingdom, who you are determines what you do. You are an adopted child of God, a new creation, an heir to Christ’s eternal glory. Therefore you worship the Lord; you love the church; you serve other people; you spread good news. All your activities, even quilting, cooking, mowing flow from a predetermined identity: Christian.

In society, my girl is an untrustworthy sneak. I want to treat her as such, taking away the privilege of privacy from her day, insisting that my all-watching eye be on her every move until she proves that she is other than what I think her to be. Which is why God gave her two parents. Daddy, who is not operating out of desperation to correct behavior, sees God’s way.

“You are our good girl, so we will treat you like a good girl.”

What?!” My heart screams. “And let her disobey again? If this backfires, what will she get into next?!”

The conundrum of the Christian’s relationship to God. God doesn’t treat his children as screwed up messes unworthy of trust. He doesn’t hold back His hand of blessing. We are new people as He has promised, as He has identified. Thus He treats us as His good children, knowing that in doing so, He is further subjecting Himself to injury through our disobedience.

More than that, we will label God as weak and passive because He stays His discipline. He stores His wrath for another day to show His goodness now, and we mock that He is impotent. Still “the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Exodus 34:6

Gracious. Merciful. Slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love. He shows these things because He is these things. They are His identity.
But you have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
We are not who we were. We do not think according to the established pattern. Because we have the mind of Christ. Now. in the flesh. not just a promise for another day.

As parents, we make every opportunity to speak identity over our children. You are good. You are helpful. You are important. You are ours. Disobedience works against who you are. It does not define you.
Christian, you are God’s much loved child. You are sealed with his Holy Spirit. You have a new mind with Godly desires. You have a heart that longs to worship the one true God. Your sin acts in direct opposition to who you are. Your weaknesses do not define you. They cannot. Your identity is set in the cross of Christ.
Therefore, act like who you are! Throw off sin as counter to your nature. In the words of the immortal Mufasa, “Remember who you are!” Or as Paul would say, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

As always the proof is in the pudding... 

The tube of toothpaste remains untouched since our good girl heard her true identity...

And we guard the silly monikers we create to mask our frustration with our children...

And we are defining our family according to truth...

Because we are our beloved Savior’s, and He is ours.

P.S. If you are struggling with your definition of self in Christ, I humbly suggest reading 1 Corinthians. You are not the first person to need your identity laid out. The entire Corinthian church and every church thereafter needed this encouraging, convicting letter.

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