One of the great themes of our faith is that you and I are beloved sons and daughters of God. This is who we are –– beloved. God delights in us –– is excited about us.
An enormous spiritual task before us is to claim our belovedness and to live lives grounded in that knowledge. It’s not easy. In fact, most of us fail to claim this fundamental identity.
When we think of who we are, we may look elsewhere for a sense of identity. Who am I? Some will answer: “I am what I do.”
When I do good things –– help out here and there, perform well and I have some success in life –– I feel positive about myself. However, when I fail or mess up, I feel depressed. As you and I grow older, our achievements may not be so large. We might say: “Well, at least I have my accomplishments, the work done, contributions made, the children raised and educated. Thus,
I feel good about myself.”
If not, I will probably feel insignificant.
Who am I? Some others might reply: “I am what other people say about me.”
What others say about us is pretty powerful stuff. If people speak well about us, we feel good. But if some begin to hear negative or hurtful things, we can feel wounded.
When someone talks against me or you, it cuts deep into the heart. I have counseled with many people in many different settings. I have met strong, vibrant and successful people who still carry with them the put-downs, criticisms and scars of their youth. No matter the accolades or awards, they retain a sense of unworthiness.
Who am I? Still others might answer by saying: “I am what I have. I am an American. I had kind parents and received a good education. I have good health. I have a family, a home and an important job.”
But as soon as you begin to lose any of those things –– if a member of your family dies, if your health goes, if poverty creeps in –– one might begin to slip into darkness.
A lot of our energy goes into the question of who am I. Let me tell you, when we choose to live our lives this way, our lives quickly become chaotic. Up one day, down the next. Up and down like a seesaw. Yet, I want you to hear that this whole mindset, this approach to our identity is inadequate. It is wrong.
Remember in the Bible when Jesus was in the wilderness. He was tempted. The devil first said, “Turn these stones into bread and show me you can do something.”
Temptation number two: “Bow down before me and I will give you all possessions.”
And the enemy finalized: “Jump from the temple’s peak – so that the angels catch you– and people will be impressed and speak well of you.”
He goes on: “You will know that you are loved because you have done some- thing spectacular. People will speak well of you and you will have many things. Everyone will love you.”
But that is Satan’s great lie and it threatens to seduce us and undo us.
If we look to Jesus, we discover the truth. At the very beginning of his ministry, at the time of his baptism, the Father said of Jesus, “You are my beloved child and on you my favor rests.”
And it was this voice that Jesus internalized and clung to as he lived his life.
People praised him and people rejected him. People shouted, “Hosanna.” And people cried, “Crucify him.” Yet, Jesus held on to the truth– no matter what – I am the Father’s beloved.
And it is this truth that sinks into me and it allows me to live in a world where I may be rejected or praised –– laughed at or spit upon verified or vilified – validated or humiliated.
I believe I am beloved, not because of anything I may have achieved, and not because of what people might say about me, or because of any- thing I might possess. Rather, I am God’s beloved because of who He is.
If there is anything I want you to hear, it is that you are beloved. God delights in you, rejoices in you, weeps over you. Feel it. Believe it in your heart. Let it invade your being. It will turn your life around.
Listen to the Scriptures:
1. I have loved you with an everlasting love.
2. Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name.
3. I have carried your name in the palm of my hand from all eternity.
God says to each of us –– I love you. You are mine and I am yours. You are my beloved. If you are open and hear God’ voice, your life will become more and more the life of the beloved.
Then you will discover that who you are and what you do does not matter apart from being the beloved of God. Oh, you will still face rejec- tions and you will still receive praise, you will experience loss and you will welcome gain. But you will no longer live as a person searching for your identity within these things. You will live as the beloved.
Beloved –– that is who we are. As we live in that reality, we will be free to move out and to love others at home, in our churches, in our communities, and wherever we go.
You are the beloved of God. Let it be so for each of us.
Article Written By Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO