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Identity – Sonship: Belonging to the Right Person So We Can Stop Giving Ourselves to Shabby Things.

May 31, 2016

We need to belong. It pulsates deep beneath the daily stuff and drives us a lot more than we know. I sat in a college speech class listening to a girl hotly slice and dice the Greek system on campus. I felt a nudge from the next row. Dom was usually asleep so this sign of life surprised me. “She didn’t get chosen by any of the sororities.” The next semester, she made a pledge class and all the cruel insensitive injustices laid on in that speech evaporated. Belonging. We can wind up in strange places, embarrassing ourselves and violating our deepest values in search of belonging.

Remember playground games? Everybody finds out what they’re worth right out there in front of everybody. The leaders start choosing up sides. The second ones picked immediately become the scout advising the leader who to go for until almost everyone is gone. I don’t know who gets the worst rap. The last person doesn’t get chosen at all; they just slump over to join a group that doesn’t want them. There’s just no one else left. But the next-to-last person get taken only because they don’t want the last guy. Being chosen ascribes value; makes us grow an inch. I’m not adopted but have known quite a few people who were. Yes, I get the quest to eventually find out who this person was that gave us up for adoption. But there’s more. Even though somebody appeared to give us away, somebody else wanted us badly enough to go to a lot of trouble to pull it off. Mountains of paperwork and legal hoops. Money (adoption fees, legal expense and, in some cases, bribes). Background checks. Overseas travel. Huge shift of life routine and direction. All done gladly because somebody wants us.

Knowing Jesus Christ births powerful things in our deep places. “…you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Romans 8:15) “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (I John 3:1). The “we” in I John gets special emphasis here. Who gets to be chosen to be children of God? People like us! Messed up, wounded, stuck on ourselves, responsible for serious pain in others lives and our own, not really caring about what God thinks – you know, US.  We are far more likely to be a hot mess than a hot commodity. John wrote this in amazement and we should read it the same way. What makes us such a prize? What makes us the first pick? This may take a minute or two. If the list looks pretty short and negotiable, we’re standing on the edge of mercy and grace.

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve have taken the big bite and are now hiding in the buff in the bushes. This is no cutesy kid’s fable to fill in the gap until science figures out what really happened. Even though He already knows exactly where they are and why, God comes looking for them. Knowing their blatant sin, God could have turned the Garden of Eden onto a landfill and walked away. How about that gang known as the prophets? Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and all those others all rolled together at the end of the Old Testament – what a fun crew! God didn’t send this jolly bunch to condemn Israel. If He wanted to do that, all He had to do was to leave them alone.

Then He came down to us Himself. And not in the form of some pompous jerk wanting everyone to line up to kiss His pinky ring. God was in Jesus Who told stories (in Luke 15) about how one lost sheep is worth leaving ninety-nine to find, how one lost coin is worth ransacking a house for, how one rebellious and self-centered child is worth waiting for with love and a hug as long as it takes. Jesus also extended great and generous invitations. “…if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38) And He freely paid the adoption fees and costs which were pretty steep; it took everything He had. He gave till it hurt and more. “…you were ransomed, …not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (I Peter 1:18-19)

God adopts children from His enemies, people like us who blow Him off, mess Him over without a care and tell Him to butt out of our lives and to go jump off a bridge. While these words may never cross our lips, they echo and bounce around inside our hearts like a super ball in a tile bathroom. Knowing that, He still chases us down. And, when our plunges back into darkness confuse us that God speaks only when we’re talking, He chases us down again. And God is exceedingly generous with His children. My grandchildren love to go shopping with my son-in-law. you just never know what may end up in the cart or what unplanned stops the car might make. They’re never disappointed. Without spoiling them, God loves to give to His children in ways like we’ve never seen giving before. “He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.” (Romans 8:32) When I was thirteen, I wanted a bass violin. I know that’s not every thirteen year old’s dream but jazz had captured me. Musicians will understand. My Dad said he didn’t have the money to buy one but he would let me go earn the money. So I went out, got my first job and took away much more than a bass violin. The gifts God gives His kids have so much more than what we ask for packed into them.

Do we want to be wanted? Do we want to belong? Do we want to be loved? Do we want these badly enough to stop running away and hiding from Someone who wants us so badly that He’s paid whatever it cost and won’t quit coming after us no matter how obnoxious we can make ourselves? Do we want to stop running from Jesus Christ and His cross?

Do you have questions about the Christian faith? After forty-six years, I still do. I’m open to any question you have, anytime. Just email me at You don’t have to include your name. I reserve the right to ask a clarifying question or two if needed so I can dignify your question with a good answer.

If you think this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, tweet and all that social media stuff. Take a look at Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, musicians, composers, writers, artists, pastors, theologians, business people, booksellers, broadcasters, artisans, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place.

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