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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Better Than Make-Believe

Feb2I have always been a romantic. From basically forever I have loved tales of valor, daring, and adventure; knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, heroic deeds and fire-breathing villains. And that’s why I sat up and took notice a few weeks ago when I read these verses in Colossians:

“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12–14)

How can it be that I was the object of a King’s quest; a daring rescue from the Land of Darkness and all this time I didn’t know about it? Or at least I never saw it in that light before. And not only was I rescued from unspeakable evil, I was embraced into a new Kingdom—one of forgiveness, freedom and light. This is the stuff fairy tales are made of, except it’s real!

Intrigued, I looked up these verses in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, to see what they had to add. This Kingdom, this inheritance, this transfer of citizenship is not in some distant time and place. It is right here and now. The Greek word “metestesen” (translated as transfer)  “…was used in secular literature in reference to removing persons from one country and settling them as colonists and citizens in another country. It might be rendered ‘reestablished’.” But unlike the pilgrims settling the New World, the EBC went on out point out that this Kingdom of Light, “…is not an area that may be designated on a map; it is the soverign rule of the Lord Christ over human hearts.”

And so we have—in uncomfortable co-existence—two kingdoms side-by-side, mixing and mingling, bitterly at odds. While we go about our day-to-day lives a battle rages all around us. We are, in truth, in the most epic tale of good versus evil ever told. And it isn’t make-believe. And we often miss it. How dangerous to be wandering around on the front lines and be oblivious to the fact that there is a battle going on!

I’ve been pondering this truth now for a few weeks and it’s hard to get my mind around it. Although I still live here physically, I am not a citizen of this world system. Its ways should be foreign to me, and mine to it. I am a settler taming wild frontiers and claiming new ground. I am a warrior princess in a kingdom at war with a bitter enemy bent on destroying it.

If I really believed this, if I really lived it out on a day-to-day basis, how different would my life look? I certainly should be living in a way that sets me apart from those who have not yet come into the Kingdom of Light. I should look radically different to them. My ways should puzzle them. My priorities, goals, and motivations ought to stand out in stark contrast.

Unfortunately, most of the time I blend right in. And what’s worse, I’m comfortable that way.

What do you think? What does being a foreigner in this world, a citizen of a new Kingdom, mean to you? How do you keep this fact in the forefront of your mind as you go about every-day life?

Since this is a blog, we can be much more interactive. Please feel free to comment on anything I write; I would love your feedback!