Identity: Part II – Privileges and Rights 03.10.19 excerpt
Our physical birth facilitates the origin of our identity - our name. However, our entire identity is developed over a lifetime. None of us come into this world knowing how our identity will evolve and what expectations come along with it. It is our parents/guardians that teach us about who we are, what is acceptable and what is not as a member of our family. And, it is over the course of our lives that we learn to adhere to those expectations.
It is the same in the spiritual realm. When we are spiritually born again, we are immediately identified as being in God’s family, but we don’t automatically understand the totality of that identity. We must be taught, trained and groomed to walk in and fulfil the role as a Christian.
We learn quickly that in God’s family there are certain expectations and those expectations can’t be compared to other families. I think back to being a child and watching children in other families behave in ways I knew were unacceptable in my family. On those rare occasions when I attempted to mimic the expectations of others, I was met with consequences – some inflicted by my parents and some were a natural outcome of poor judgment.
In the family God, we also have expectations and when we get out of alignment with God’s expectations, He isn’t waiting to punish us as some believe. In God’s family, we are living under His grace [unmerited favor]. Under grace, God’s expects that you will be led by the Holy Spirit that is inside of you. So, when you’re out of alignment, you’ll make the proper adjustment(s) to get back on track. If we stubbornly resist, God has a multitude of ways to encourage us to get back into alignment.
The prodigal son in Luke 15 is a great illustration of God’s grace. Grace was waiting for the son as he returned home after he had walked away from his identity. His father waited patiently for him to return to his true identity and willingly accepted him back. His own decisions brought about certain consequences, from which he learned great lessons. This lets us know that even when we don’t meet expectations, we still have a seat at the family table.
As we grow in Jesus Christ, we learn that in addition to expectations, there are duties and responsibilities, AND also privileges and rights. Let’s look closely at the latter:
We are acquitted from sin’s death sentence and justified through Jesus Christ. Sin no longer has power over those in Christ! [Romans 8:1-5]
Our identity as children of God is affirmed through the Holy Spirit. We can be secure in who we are and to whom we belong. [Romans 8:15-16]
We have a right to a priceless inheritance as joint heirs with Jesus Christ not subject to corruption or decay. [Romans 8:17]
We have the privilege of authority through Jesus Christ – not to act for our own benefit, but for God’s glory. [John 14:12; Matt 28:18; 1 Peter 4:11]
We have a right to relationship with and access to God. [Hebrews 10:19-23; Hebrews 4:14-16]
We have the privilege to be those living stones which are part of the building blocks comprising the body of Jesus Christ. [1 Peter 2:4-10]
We have the privilege to be a dwelling place for God’s Spirit – The one and only Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 6:19]
There’s much more to our identity in Jesus Christ – this is just the tip of the iceberg - but some of the significant aspects of being a child of God. When we know our rights and privileges, it adds security to our lives. We don’t worry about what others think or what they say. We become secure in who we are in the family of God. Jesus Christ died that we might enjoy these privileges and have rights. They are instrumental in us living out our true identity as sons and daughters of God.
Next week I will explore our responsibilities and duties.