A couple of weeks ago I shared with our pastor some of the thoughts on belovedness I’ve been having, and Jason Gray’s song and video. She wrote back to tell me that she received my e-mail while preparing September’s last sermon, and it resonated with her.
Our church is perhaps an unusual one. Our website description: “Triune Mercy Center is a non-denominational mission church that ministers with and alongside the homeless.” Our congregation includes those who struggle with poverty, homelessness, addiction, joblessness, and intermittent incarceration. The brokenness those of us who are more fortunate can hide so well is clearly in evidence in our Sunday morning pews, just in different guises.
And Sunday morning Pastor Deb preached a tough sermon, reminding us that Jesus Himself says many will cry to Him, “Lord, Lord,” and He will respond, “I never knew you.” Our actions reveal who we serve, the truth of whose will we follow.
But then she turned her sermon on a dime. She described the video to Jason’s song, and how we deceive ourselves, running to the wrong things in search of self-worth. We run to money, drugs, alcohol, even puffed up religiosity for its own sake. Simply put, we don’t believe who we really are. She said,
“If we really believed that we are beloved children of God, would we behave as beloved children of God?
I carried that home with me– that we act like who and what we believe we are. And I had an odd thought– that an identity is like an operating system. All we do, the way we speak, the way we function in the world happens in the framework of how we identify ourselves. Operating out of belovedness, our lives can come to be characterized by love, freedom, fearlessness and grace. That is why good behavior by itself, and holy words by themselves, put the cart before the horse. (Or even more accurately, are an overturned cart by itself, wheels spinning in empty air.) What we do, what we value, who we are becoming, flows out of the operating system of our identity.
He calls us Beloved. We can trust it’s true.