I have had some wonderful conversations recently with staff and students about identity. I think I have really enjoyed this because it is such a personal topic and really encourages others to be open and honest on a topic they know the most about – themselves.
In the book of Genesis, we read the story of the father of faith – Abraham. We find out about the birth of Ishmael and Isaac, sons born to Hagar and Sarah. We read that God blessed and protected Ishmael as he moved away, and the blessing given to Isaac.
Throughout the Bible, we read of the importance of being from a certain family line. The most important claim was that, “Abraham is our father”. To be a child of Abraham meant to be part of the blessing of God.
Let us take time this week to reflect on the importance of our roots and our identity. For many, family plays an important part. But our family experiences are not always perfect. We get let down. We let others down. We let ourselves down. None are perfect.
A central theme of the Christian faith is that, even though we all make mistakes, we are still chosen by God to belong to His family. The importance of sonship might be misunderstood by us, reading the Bible today. But sonship meant inheritance and provision. An adopted child had as much right to the family name as any other.
Remember the story in the gospel of Luke about the prodigal son? Jesus describes a son who returned to him after going away and making many mistakes.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Acceptance, love, forgiveness – these are the characteristics of God that come from God the father. As we finish, let us reflect on the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, as recorded in Luke:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”