““You are the sons of the LORD your God. ”
So reads Deuteronomy 14:1a. And it begs a most important question.
In context, this statement prefaces a whole host of things God set out regarding the behavior of the Israelites. We tend to look at all the dietary peculiarities God prescribed for them, the strict rules and regulations surrounding worship, the feasts and festivals, etc., and look for “practical” reasons for them. e.g. Why the prohibition on eating pork? We answer, well, with no refrigeration the danger of something like trichinosis is very real. Perhaps so. But far above and before reasoning our way through such answers – behind it all stands this simple reality: They were “the sons of the LORD” their God. And He said so.
And that ought to be sufficient.
God marked His people out in any number of ways: How they farmed; how they dressed; how they worshiped, sacrificed, conducted business, treated their spouses – lots and lots of ways.
And so I ask myself today, and invite you to do the same: What are the kinds of things I do, or do not do, simply because I am His? Not because it is a “law.” Not because in and of itself it is right or wrong. Not because it is countenanced or discouraged by the culture around me, in or outside of the Church. Just because I grasp that I am not my own. (1 Cor. 6:19) That I was brought with a price. That I do not belong to myself, but to some one else – and live for their plans, purposes and desires, and not my own.
American Evangelicalism suffers from the influence of an Americanism that is entrenched and committed to living as fiercely independent and belonging to no one. And it is a lie.
Beloved, if you have been born again by the Spirit of Christ, you must reckon each and every day with whose you are, even more than who you are. For there is no such thing as an identity severed from all relationship. Indeed, all identity is rooted in relationship. I must find my identity in terms of the God who created me, the bloodline I hail from, the relations near and far I share that bloodline with, nationality, ethnicity, and even spiritual life in Christ. And most important of all – to Whom I belong.
Whose are you today? And what does that mean in terms of what you say, how you reason, how you treat others, how you worship, spend your time, spend your money, etc.? And not in some “legal” sense, but in true relationship. As belonging to my wife in marriage, that belonging both precludes and requires certain things of me. And certainly no less is true when it comes to being a child of God.
Now the problem with this line of thought – due to our sin – is that our minds will almost certainly run to the negative, what I can’t do because I am His, rather than what is mine because I am His.
As writes Alexander MacLaren on Eph. 1:7: “Now that word ‘grace,’ I have no doubt, sounds to you hard, theological, remote. But what does it mean? It gathers into one burning point the whole of the rays of that conception of God, with which it is the glory of Christianity to have flooded and drenched the world. It tells us that at the heart of the universe there is a heart; that God is Love, that that love is the motive-spring of His activity, that it comes and bends over the lowliest with a smile of amity on its lips, with healing and help in its hands, with forgiveness for all sins against itself, with boundless wealth for the poorest, and that the wealth of His self-communicating love is the measure of the wealth that each of us may possess. God gives ‘according to the riches of His grace.’ You do not expect a millionaire to give half-a-crown to a subscription fund; and God gives royally, divinely, measuring His bestowments by the abundance of His treasures, and handing over with an open palm large gifts of coined money, because there are infinite chests of uncirculated bullion in the deep storehouses. ‘How great is Thy goodness which Thou hast manifested before the sons of men for them that fear Thee. How much greater is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up in store.’ But whilst He gives all, the question comes to be: What do I receive? The measure of His gift is His measureless grace; the measure of my reception is my, alas! easily-measured faith. What about the unearned increment? What about the unrealised wealth? Too many of us are like some man who has a great estate in another land. He knows nothing about it, and is living in grimy poverty in a back street. For you have all God’s riches waiting for you, and ‘the potentiality of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice’ at your beck and call, and yet you are but poorly realising your possible riches. Alas, that when we might have so much we do have so little. ‘According to the riches of His grace’ He gives. But another ‘according to’ comes in. ‘According to thy faith be it unto thee.’ So we have to take these two measures together, and the working limit of our possession of God’s riches comes out of the combination of them both.”
All this Believer – because of WHOSE you are.
MacLaren, Alexander. 2009. Expositions of Holy Scripture: Ephesians. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.