I am currently reading a very good book called Dangerously Alive, which is by Simon Guillebaud and recounts his time as a missionary in Burundi. In the book (on page 108 for those who have it and are interested), Simon Guillebaud gives a quote from the UK newspaper, the Independent, which relates the story of a Burundian woman who, when commanded by the soldier who had just murdered her daughter to show him her ID card, handed the soldier a Bible and said that it was her identity.
What an amazing challenge I find that story. So often, I read Jesus’ words, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV) and don’t really pause to consider the implications of them. That following Jesus is a whole-heart commitment in which we let our story become His story, His way become our way, and His will the guide for our lives. It is scary and often hard to give up ‘me’ and submit to God – to find my identity in Him - but it is also exhilarating and liberating. I am many identities, but it is good to stop and take time to reflect that foremost should be the fact that I am a sinner saved by God’s grace. Jesus didn’t just say the words that I quote above – He lived them as He quite literally denied Himself, took up His cross, submitted to God the Father, and died for the sins of the world. And because of that, I am not just a saved sinner but am also a child adopted into God’s family and an heir of grace.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For 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!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17, NIV).