Summary: Series: Identity: Becoming Who We Are
“I Don’t Belong to this World”
Series: Identity: Becoming Who We Are
May 14, 2017 – Brad Bailey
(Note: This message also coincided with Mother’s Day…so while the focus remained in this series on Identity… some illustrations were woven in which reflect the significance of mothers.)
Continuing in our series and focus on IDENTITY… and getting ahold of who we are.
Those familiar with South America know it’s had its share of countries in conflict between government and rebel forces which draw from the masses and fight guerrilla warfare out of the jungles from which they live.
The most extensive is that of Columbia. For 52 year…more than half a century, the FARC guerilla soldiers have fought against the governing powers in the longest-running war in the Western hemisphere. The tragedy is that the soldiers are often recruited as young boys…and sometimes girls. As young lives…they are given a sense of purpose….and of power. And ultimately…with that uniform…and rifle…they find a new identity.
In recent years there have finally been peace talks… but the new government wondered if there would be any way to get these soldiers to demobilize and reenter society. It’s the identity they had lived with for so long. These soldiers felt too lost from their past.
So the government hired a creative ad executive, Jose Miguel Sokoloff, to convince these lives to give up without firing a shot. They did campaigns at Christmas in which lights illuminated the way out of the forest and back home.
But in December 2013… they brought forth a new campaign… simply called "Mothers' Voices." They found 37 mothers of guerrilla fighters who were willing to give them pictures of those fighters as children. They printed up thousands of these posters and hung them in towns that the guerrillas moved through and nailed them to trees as well.
And the message was, "Before you were a guerrilla, you were my child. Come back home. I'm waiting for you."
Over 200 lives found their way home because a mother loved them…and reminded them who they were.
It’s a great reminder of the power of a mother. Many mothers here today have felt that voice rise up within your own mother’s soul… that voice that wants to call a child out from powers that have recruited them. It is not the voice which calls them back to childhood…it is the voice that calls them to be the men and women they were meant to be.
From God’s perspective…we are those recruited with promises of purpose and power… who have lost who we are. We are those who were recruited into a force that is fighting for power… but has no future…and our identity is lost. Somewhere we were made an offer… to be join what would make us special… and like those young soldiers it was intimidating to think of saying no…and slowly we repress more and more of who we were meant to be…and we accept the terms of our new identity.
The Bible begins with a poetic summary in which a serpent gets human life to give up their identity and in doing so…he rules a world that sold it’s soul so to speak.
And when God comes…to restore our idensity… that same figure is spoken of again..
Jesus calls John to baptize him.. as his own sign of being set apart…and we read…
Matthew 3:17-4:1 (ESV)
“… behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
We are further told he is drawn into 40 days in the wilderness… during which he is fasting. Fasting is that which allows someone to focus on what lies deeper in life…to forgo one hunger to face more deeply what controls us. So this is a time of testing the depth of his calling… of testing the power of what was just declared from the heaven. And that same spiritual force…referred to as the devil or Satan…comes and brings three temptations… or tests.
The first is using his power to turn stones into bread…to provide for himself. The second is to use his power over angels…and the thirds that of power and fame as we read…
Matthew 4:8-11 (ESV)
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him..”
This proves to be a moment that sets the trajectory of so much that follows. Jesus defies the terms of accepting self-glorifying power…and leaves that wilderness more resolute and launches into a full assault on the powers that lie behind this world. And the enemy realizes that he is not able to control this one now present in Creation… he realizes that there is one who is not bound to the terms by which the enemy has ruled…and what unfolds from this point on…is the enemy becoming more resolute in stopping Jesus…this one who came to restore the glory of all life back to God…something he may have believed he finally accomplished when he was crucified…but that would lead to the defeat of death…the beginning of the enemy’s rule.