Heathdale flower 25th November 2021

I Know Who I Am!

Is it your family, heritage, grades, job or perhaps even your performance that defines you? Let's talk about identity and, most importantly, grace.

Heathdale flower

When I’m looking for some downtime TV to watch, one of my ‘go-to shows is ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ There are several versions of this show, one is based on Australian identities, and there are also British and American versions. If you haven’t seen this show, the basic premise is people are lead on a personal journey to discover their heritage. As they learn about their generational history, they discover what has managed to shape them to become the person they are today. Being a bit of a history buff, I find this show fascinating as I get to delve into people’s generational past and learn a little of their personal backstory!! Sociologists also tell us that other factors such as parents, family construct, birth order, gender, peers and teachers are significant shapers of people’s identity and how one sees oneself. So, when people are able to pull all of these elements together, they have the opportunity to discover who they are!

The thought of what shapes us to be the people we are came to mind recently when I read a passage from the New Testament book of the Bible, 1 Peter.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God... Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9 & 10)

Individuals who have a deep understanding of their identity in God are people who know how to avoid the ‘performance trap’. The performance trap is living out lives with the idea that we must always do something in order to be accepted by God. The Christian scholar and author Philip Yancey states, “Grace sounds like a startling note of contradiction... and every day I must pray anew for the ability to hear its message.”

If you are anything like me, you too may need to gently remind yourself every day that we are precious to God, not because of what we do, but because of who we are; we do not need to fall into the performance trap. This does not mean our service for God is unimportant or that God does not enjoy our service for Him, but it does mean that our acceptance is not based on what we do for Him but what He has done for us; we are forgiven and accepted whole heartedly, without reservation!

In the fourth and fifth centuries there were two notable Bible teachers, Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine held the belief that a person’s salvation was entirely a matter of grace, and if God had not taken the initiative to save us, then we would have never been saved.

Pelagius had a different perspective and position. He believed that people need to take the initial steps towards salvation, through their own effort and initiative. Pelagius believed working methodically was the only way to please God. Augustine rejoiced in the fact that, as the verse above put it, we are, ‘chosen by grace’.

How easy is it to fall into the performance trap and believe our worth/value is entirely built upon what we do or say? Yet, our loving Heavenly Father consistently reminds us that this is a lie and doesn’t truly represent Him.

My prayer for each member of this incredible community is that through your time at Heathdale, you will have been on a personal discovery journey in coming to know who you really are, a child of the living God!

As we begin to understand this, it will enable every student, staff member parent and guardian to discover and experience how deeply they are loved by Jesus. Then each of us will come to know we are a people who are deeply appreciated and valued because of Jesus' love is inside their heart, mind and soul.

As we embrace this truth and know we are secure in the fact that through God’s grace, we rejoice in the fact that God is pleased with us. May this be a source of encouragement to you this day.