In this article, I will discuss what our identity is and where our true destiny lies in Christ Jesus. At every moment and in every place God draws close to Man bringing us back to the Father’s embrace.
I remember after a year of my conversion and experiencing the love of Jesus, I heard at a Catholic conference retreat a talk on God as a loving Father.
My stomach churned, anxiety loomed over me and my heart seemed to be broken in two as fear from my childhood rose up as I masked it with anger. Angry and feeling alone, this speaker who would one day become my spiritual father, spoke on the Father’s love. But I was not ready for this. I knew Jesus as a brother and friend, I knew the Holy Spirit and how he fanned the flame of his love in us and how he can transform our hearts and renew our minds. But in the Ecumenical and Protestant influence of my ministry in which I resided, it was difficult to see God as a loving Father who wanted my good.
It was too good to be true.
Strange Pagan Rituals
Unmasking our false identities and revealing our true ones
Now wanting and desiring a more exclusive Catholic community, I found myself angry because it seemed as if the Catholics were these pagan overlords, who worshiped Mary like a goddess, and processed around (the Monstrance) with a golden cross presenting a piece of bread as if it was Jesus and bowing before the golden calf like the Israelites in the book of Exodus.
It was as if I was Aaron worshiping the false god presenting it to everyone and forgetting about the one true God who had brought me out of the slavery of my sin. I now rejected him by believing in an idol. God was waiting in the shadows as judge, jury, and executioner. Only one day to be consumed with hell fire by Him if I didn’t follow every commandment to a T. Not knowing anything about God’s infinite merciful love, I trembled.
It seemed like blasphemy since my initial conversion giving my life to Christ not too long ago. But I was a cradle Catholic, I was raised by loving parents, the youngest of four, but I desired the world and everything it offered to me. Fame, fortune, pleasure at my fingertips, sexual pleasures at every corner, I wanted it all including food, drink, drugs, you name it, I wanted it. But when I realized my brokenness and that I could not save myself from addiction, I was pulled out of the darkness by my friend Jesus who didn’t condemn me or ridicule me but instead stared at me in silence waiting to open my heart up to him.
He desired to give me mercy. He was my beloved, my true heart’s desire who had filled the void in my heart and now I was full of his overflowing torrent of grace. Experiencing true self-sacrificial love, I desired to tell everyone I met about my experience.
The Father Loves Us
But in this large auditorium in this Catholic setting with a whole week of faith-filled talks and amazing fellowship with my fellow brothers and sisters, I cringed at this religious brother’s mention of God as Father.
“The Father desires a relationship with you. The Father loves you. When the Father looks at you, He sees Jesus.”
This and more he said repeatedly. “The Father, the Father.” Relentlessly I heard it and it frightened me. It seemed as if the Catholic faith put a lot of emphasis on the Father and not Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I was confused and it angered me because of my own struggling relationship with my own earthly father. I couldn’t accept the relationship from my Heavenly Father who only wanted my good. He wanted me to know who I truly was and where I was going, but I wanted nothing to do with Him.
As I struggled with this for many years, and still struggling with my identity as a son of God, I have to remember and constantly remind myself that I am an adopted child of God.
St. John tells us, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” We are heirs to our loving Father, heirs to the Kingdom.
We have been bought with a price, He loved us so much that he died for us. Not because he had to or was forced but because Jesus was in obedience to the Father. It was his perfect, good, and pleasing will for Him to die on the Cross to shed his blood for the expiation of our sins, to forgive us so that we might be redeemed.
In John 10, Jesus says, “For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”
He is the perfect Son and He listens to the Father. But they are One, in this strange mystery of the Most Holy Trinity The Father and the Son are One as is the Holy Spirit in this perfect person communion of love. It is amazing how the Father loves us so much and how we don’t have to do anything to receive His love. We have to strive for Christian perfection in this difficult life but in the end, it’s ultimately the Lord’s free gift of his grace which he pours out onto us. We just have to accept it and respond with a gernous heart for He too is foolishly generous.
Identity as a Child of God
“This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
Jesus knew his sonship, he knew where he was going. The mission of saving the world from their sin rested on the fact that Jesus knew his true identity as the Son of God. So we too must know who we are.
We are both heirs to the throne, to the Kingdom of God in Heaven. We are sons and daughters of the Father.
This is the best news we could ever hear. We’re not just servants or mere creatures, but Jesus has brought us into the Family of God and no more are we orphaned, no more are we outcasts and driven from our home. No. Now we are heirs to the God of the Universe. Pretty cool, huh?
And so how do we come to know who we are. There a few ways we can do this.
1. Scriptures and prayer
We must pray. Every. Single. Day. No exceptions.
Reading Scripture is essential. We need to learn how to love Scripture not by our own will power but by asking Jesus to change our hearts and renew our minds to love Him in His Word. He is the Word made flesh so its great to receive the sacraments but we must know who Jesus is. And some of us have a false perception of who the God-man truly is.
Who is he really? We must ask. Who is this fully divine and fully man, Jesus of Nazareth? Through reading the Holy Scriptures, gnawing on them, and persevering through reading them we will understand Him. Deciphering the meaning that Jesus speaks only then will we come to know Him.
Now, I’m not perfect but we should be discipline by making it to prayer every day preferably in the morning as God wants our first fruits of our day. If you can’t that’s OK, but find a time that you know you can keep to and pray.
You don’t have to use eloquent prayers but be honest with God. Speak to him like a friend. “Pour out your heart to God.” Psalm 62:8
Silence is his language. We must listen in prayer. We must hear and know the Good Shepherd’s voice. “…the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
So it must be with you, knowing Jesus’ voice and becoming familiar so we know Him and can distinguish it from our own interior voice, the world’s, and the Evil One’s.
2. Receive the sacraments
Receiving the sacraments has become one of my favorite things about being a Catholic Christian because God’s grace is always present. It’s a guarantee that grace will be present when you receive the sacrament. Remember the sacraments are the physical sign of Christ’s presence and power in the world. They are signs that use real material things that we understand and are tangible. God uses them to transform our broken hearts and raise our clouded intellects. God does powerful things when you come to Reconciliation and receiving the Blessed Sacrament at Mass.
God wants to heal us and he does so through His Church by His saving sacraments to sanctify our souls and eventually redeem and heal us of our past wounds and sins.
3. Great community life
A radical Christian community life is a vital thing to your spiritual growth and maturity preferably a multi-generational community of believers who are all in one heart, one mind and one body, all knowing who they are and all knowing where they are going. A common force, a common culture, a common goal to strive together.
But it must be Christ, we must desire all of those in community to have ours and each other’s souls saved not to convert them to our cause or to our ministry or outreach. But what is best for them, for the flourishing of the unique person that God has destined to do amazing things. Do not limit or hinder the people in these settings in your parish or community but aim at the betterment of the person to grow closer to God.
A Spirit of Hospitality
Henri Nouwen the spiritual giant said, “Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. . . .
“The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adore the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”
What a beautiful quote on the freedom of the person that God has created and to allow them to be who they truly are and how Christ sees them through his eyes. That is a high call and a difficult one to practice because our culture is surely against that spirit.
So these are just a few simple stepping stones in order to come to know who we are as sons and daughters of the Most High.
Knowing Who We Are
I will conclude with what I found out when I started meeting with my spiritual father. Two years later after much suffering and coming to know who I was and implementing these practices through my other spiritual father, I met with my new one who had given that same talk on the Father. I revealed to him my broken heart and he accepted it with open arms speaking truth into my life.
Truth set me free and broke down deep seated lies I had believed for years, but not Man’s truth, the truth of Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
So as we finished up my spiritual father said I was a great man. My heart warmed with comfort and security knowing who I was and having another man in my life affirm my identity. Having a tangible sign of God’s love made manifest in another person brings tremendous healing.
I knew who I was and where I was going. I was a son of God the Father.
My destination? Heaven, to inherit the glory awaiting me.
So, who are you? Seek truth and you will find it one way or another.