So those of you who were at church today (or at least read my sermon on this website) know that my son broke his tooth. He was ice skating, fell, and split his lip and broke about 75% of one of his adult teeth clean off. I was there, too, and man alive it was hard to watch. I mean, I didn’t see him actually fall or a tooth fragment flying out of his mouth or anything, but I did see the aftermath and all the blood and a bit of tears and the disappointment in having to leave the field trip early (he was like on the ice for 5 minutes).
It’s been a couple days now and I’ve noticed something. He was a bit afraid to go to school, he didn’t want to talk about the injury, and he most certainly didn’t want anyone staring at him. It was like he was different, in the way that he felt, the way that he thought people see him, and how he sees himself.
Clumsy. Irresponsible. Disfigured. Those are some of the ways he was somewhat describing himself and perhaps even (and this scares me) identifies himself.
But this isn’t true. Sure, he might have displayed some of those things, but that isn’t him. He isn’t defined by those things. He isn’t bound to be that forever. He doesn’t need to be held back by one single event in his life.
He is so much more than that. Of course I would say that though, he’s my son after all.
At the beginning of Lent we typically get this story of Jesus tempted in the wilderness. And while the story is told in different ways, they all essentially tell us one thing: Jesus had his identity questioned. The satan, the adversary and deceiver, questioned Jesus’ role as the Son of God and tempted Jesus to display acts of power so the world could see that he is who he has been told he is through his baptism. He was pushed to prove his faith. He was asked to give some evidence through authority and respect that he deserves to be the Son of God.
But, as Jesus showed us, that isn’t how our identities or positions in God’s family are determined.
Rather, God chooses us, God loves us, God creates us as God’s own children. It has nothing to do with what we can do, what we have done, or who obeys us. It has nothing to do with our social or economic background, our culture or tradition, or our gender or orientation. It has nothing to do with how clumsy we might think we are, how irresponsible we might act, or how disfigured we might think we look.
But it is all God. God’s choice. God’s decision. God’s gracious act of love and mercy. Declaring all of us… each and every one of us… as God’s own beloved child.
So we needn’t rely on these outward appearances or labels to define us. We needn’t rely on our skills and talents to save us. We needn’t rely on our popularity to know that we are loved. Instead, all we need to know is that we are God’s children, connected and joined together with all of God’s kingdom, and brought into life and love by God’s own doing.
This Lent, let us give up our reliance on things other than God for identity, and let us lean on God’s promises for strength and purpose.
Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!