Devotional Thoughts for Today
For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts, but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.
Disney’s “Tangled” is one of my favorite movies of all time. If you haven’t watched it, the basic premise is that a girl named Rapunzel is kidnapped as an infant, and held captive by a wicked woman who pretends to be her mother. Rapunzel grows up thinking that this villain is actually her mother, until one day she begins to realize the truth about who she is. One of my favorite scenes in the film is precisely the moment she realizes her true identity; she is, in fact, the daughter of the king! In that moment, everything about Rapunzel’s life changes. She realizes her true worth and she discovers who her true enemy is. The reason I love this movie is because I see a biblical principle at its core—our truest identity is defined by our relationship to the King.
In our world, there are numerous ways to define oneself: ethnicity, gender, occupation, degrees, etc. But, without taking away the merit of any of the above, the following principle is still true: Our truest identity is defined by our relationship to the King. What I mean is that, in light of eternity, your identity in God weighs more than what you have accomplished in your lifetime.
At first glance, our passage seems harsh, and even a bit unfair. After all, Israel and Judah, by no means, were sinless nations. In fact, the Old Testament talks more about the sins of Israel and Judah than it does about the sins of the Chaldeans (Babylon). Then why are Israel and Judah remembered and the Chaldeans condemned? I’ll tell you—it’s not because one behaved better than the other; rather, it’s because of their relationship to God. Israel was not remembered because they were better than other nations; instead, it was because the Lord was “their God”. In the same vein, the Chaldeans aren’t condemned because they were worse, but because they stood “against the Holy of One of Israel”. This is the reason the gospel is simultaneously a stumbling block to the self-righteous and also the power of God to save sinners.
How do you define yourself? Though many may acknowledge that they are children of God, it’s very easy to get sucked into different identities in the workplace and at school because our society is fueled by identity politics. Today, let’s remember our truest identity, that we are sons and daughters of the King.
Prayer: Father, thank You that our truest identity is not one that we need to earn. But to all who believe in Jesus’ name, You gave the right to become children of God. Help us to live in the reality of this identity. Remind us of our true worth, and who the true enemy is. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Bible Reading for Today: John 4
Lunch Break Study
Read: John 1:9-13: The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Questions to Consider
- Who is John referring to in this passage?
- According to John, how do we become children of God?
- What does this passage say about our identity as children of God?
- John is referring to Jesus. This is made even clearer in the surrounding verses of this text.
- According to John, the children of God are:
- NOT born of blood. In other words, the children of God aren’t passed down through biological family. This is counter-intuitive to what the Jews believed about being God’s chosen people.
- NOR of the will of the flesh. In other words, you don’t earn the title “child of God.”
- NOR of the will of man. In other words, you can’t be given the title “child of God” by any other person.
- But of God. In other words, your identity as a child of God is made possible only by God, and it is received by believing in Jesus’ name.
- The passage implies that our status as children of God is not one that was earned by us. We aren’t children of God because we did better, or are somehow more qualified when compared to anyone else. We are who we are because we believed and God gave. This gives us no grounds to boast, but rather, we should earnestly seek to share this good news!
There are many “Rapunzels” today—those who are deceived and playing by the rules imposed by a false identity. Many don’t know the true hope that the gospel brings. This evening, spend some time praying for those who are living this way, that they might come to realize the identity that they are created for.