Identity

Mar23I’m thinking more and more about this Kingdom to which I belong, and I’m thinking that the place to start is identity. Who am I, exactly, as a citizen of the Kingdom of Light?

In medieval times great importance was given to one’s heritage and lineage, and a complex system of heraldry evolved. Banners were emblazoned with colors and symbols boldly displaying a person’s identity. Royal households and kingdoms had their own insignias, and many an army marched proudly out, emboldened by their king’s colors fluttering overhead. Even today a country’s flag can instill in its citizens a feeling of courage and loyalty as they think of their homeland and all it means to them.

And so, as I read through Colossians, I think I’ve found out what my coat of arms, my banner as a citizen of this Kingdom, would be. I’ve found my identity.

“…chosen of God, holy and beloved…” (Colossians 3:12)

And so it is for every citizen of this wondrous Kingdom of Light.

I don’t think it’s any accident that Colossians 3:12 follows Colossians 3:11, which reminds the readers that “…there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

All of those things that the world uses to label us—nationality, race, gender, social status, religious affiliation, education—none of those things matter in God’s Kingdom. We have a new, wondrous identity because of Jesus.

Chosen of God. Holy. Beloved.

This should be the identity that permanently imprints itself on our hearts. The banner that constantly flies overhead, reminding us of who we are.

Chosen of God. Hand picked. Can you believe it? When you, when I, still lived in the kingdom of darkness—not only that, but preferred the darkness to the light—the God of Heaven singled us out and rescued us at great cost to Himself.

Holy. Believe it or not, this does not mean we’re perfect or flawless. Holy actually means set apart. Because we were bought at such a price, because God Almighty chose us personally to be members of His kingdom, we each are now set apart for something sacred.

And I would suggest that the sacred begins and ends with relationship. All too often we think of being set apart in terms of achieving something—performing some particular task or filling some sort of role. And that very well might be. But if we get focused on “doing” I think we miss the point. Because we’re…

Beloved. God rescued us because He loves us. He wants the joy of relationship with you and with me. He wants to fill us to overflowing with the knowledge of Himself—watching us grow, rejoicing as we marvel at who He is, enjoy Him, learn to trust His heart. Yes, there might be things He asks us to do for Him along the way, but the most sacred thing we can do with our lives is take the time to fall deeply in love with God as we get to know Him better and better.

Chosen of God. Set apart. Beloved.

(And if you can’t quite believe it yet, check out Ephesians 1:4, or Jude verse 1, which address believers in almost identical terms.)

How incredibly this might change our lives if we lived it out on a moment-by-moment basis.

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“It is necessary, then, that each man should first of all find in the Scriptures that he, through being entangled in the love of this world—i.e. of temporal things—has been drawn far away from such a love for God and such a love for his neighbor as Scripture enjoins. Then that fear which leads him to think of the judgment of God, and that piety which gives him no option but to believe in and submit to the authority of Scripture, compel him to bewail his condition. For the knowledge of a good hope makes a man not boastful, but sorrowful. And in this frame of mind he implores with unremitting prayers the comfort of the Divine help that he may not be overwhelmed in despair, and so he gradually comes to the fourth step—that is, strength and resolution—in which he hungers and thirsts after righteousness.”

—St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine

Progression