For several years I have preached Romans 8:15-18 as a key to filling in one’s insecurities by knowing you are a son or daughter of God. If we know who we are, we won’t have to go looking for it elsewhere.
The problem is, this isn’t the type of concept you can hear in a sermon (or preach in a sermon) and immediately internalize like switching on a light switch. While I preach this truth, and believe this truth, I still find my insecurities creeping up and preying on me, luring me astray. I believe that our insecurities are the root of almost every sin we struggle with. Consider:
- Anger – Someone makes you look weak. You need to prove you are not weak so you get angry, proving to them and onlookers you are indeed strong. As if they determine who you are by speaking it. As if you didn’t already know who you are and you have a need to compensate for what this person claimed over you.
- Materialism – I need to buy the newest coolest stuff because I need other people to tell me I’m valuable (and they will when they see my new stuff). I don’t already know I’m valuable so I need these things in order to receive this affirmation from others.
- Lust / Sexual Immorality – If a girl is a 10 out of 10 and I can get her to pay attention to me / be attracted to me, then I am a 10 out of 10. If a girl accepts me, then I am acceptable. And of course porn is the easiest way to get this, because it never rejects you. “10 out of 10’s” are always there to receive you and affirm you. I’m attracted to women because I want those women to tell me that I’m good, that I’m valuable, that I’m desirable, that I’m worthwhile.
- Egoism – I need to be right. I need to be known. I need glory. I need a high position. I need the credit. I need a big church. Because these things make me feel important and successful, like I’ve made it.
- Coveting – I need the perfect ________ because then I’ll be fully valuable. As is, I am lacking.
We live with a deep sense that we are lacking. TV commercials prey on this. If you buy XYZ, you won’t be lacking anymore. If I can internalize the truth that I am God’s son (or daughter) as Romans 8:15-18 tell me (which is a crazy amount of value!), I would never need to go looking for my value in these other places. I’d be a full cup, a full stomach, so stuffed I’d have no desire for these side dishes.
I was looking at Romans 8:15-18 this morning, asking myself why I can’t live in the peace of this identity in Christ. A few key things struck me:
- None of us have perfect earthly fathers; some are better than others, and some had no father at all. What does it look like to have a perfect Heavenly Father who has adopted us as his children?
- Our last name changes. Our identity changes. God pours his love on me, yet often I feel similar to the adopted children who are never able to truly receive their new parents’ love. The children who were abandoned by their biological parents, bounced around in foster care, were abused, and now have been adopted by a set of genuine, loving parents. The parents pour and pour and pour out their love but the adopted child has been so damaged from his past that he rebels. His insecurity, the message that he isn’t worth anything, is so deeply engrained in his wiring that his life is still fueled by it.
- “Abba, Father”. Abba is Aramaic for the most personal, intimate expression of “Father” that a child can use. Abba is a word the damaged child in the above paragraph never uses. What does it mean for me to CRY “Abba, Father!”. To cling to my Father the way my 1-year-old daughter clings to me when she’s in pain? I’ve preached on Abba many times, I’ve never cried to God, “Abba!” the way my 1-year-old cries to me. Until this morning…
- An Abba who tells us, “Son/Daughter: You are valuable (Matt. 6:26). You are attractive to me (John 3:16). You are wonderful (Psalm 139:13-14). I desire you (Hosea 3:1-2). I long for you (Matt. 23:37). You are accepted (Romans 8:1-4). I approve of you (2 Cor. 10:17-18). Don’t look for these things in false places. They are all already yours in my love!!!”
- And that in this immense affirmation, there will still be suffering associated with it (Romans 8:18). It won’t all be smooth sailing, but to persevere in this trustworthy and sustaining love. Clutching my Abba‘s cloak like a 1-year-old, no matter what ups and downs come my way.
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