Crucial Reminder: Identity and Security
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Over the past several weeks, we have looked at what bullying is, how God addresses the spirit and acts of bullying through Scripture, and how God addresses those who are experiencing bullying in their contexts through His word. This week we will be wrapping up our discussion by ending on a note of identity and security.
So often when we experience the difficulties of being bullied in school, at home, or at work, we can feel like we become that person. We feel reduced down to a thing to be mocked. We are a punching bag; a worthless thing that is exists for other people’s sadistic pleasure. Often, we can even begin to buy into the lies that are repetitively hurled at us. After a time, we can believe the harsh descriptors we are labeled with: worthless, pathetic, ugly, stupid, insignificant, and so forth. Insecurities can be grown in the fertile soil of restless taunts revolving around body shape or size, personal interests, relationships, belongings, family life, clothing, mannerisms, social status, popularity, friends, and on and on the list goes. In an environment where we are being told this day-by-day – even to the point that we begin to modify our appearance or mannerisms so that we can avoid the endless mockery – it can be easy to believe that those taunts are your reality, your identity, your life. What is the struggling follower of Jesus Christ supposed to do in such a terrible situation where there is no visible end?
In crashes Romans 8! If God is the only judge, and He has already judged you in putting your condemnation on Jesus Christ, then that means you are no longer condemned. This has two huge applications for your situation, one that is definite and one that is in effect but waiting for completion. First, remembering that the One whose judgment stands eternally has pardoned you once for all can bring you great security. While a flurry of hurtful words, taunts, and judgments are thrown at you, one thing stands secure –you are God’s child. Paul goes on to write, “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” (Rom. 8:14-15). You stand secure from God’s wrath and secure in God’s family. As God’s child, instead of despair, you can have delight; instead of hopelessness, you can have peace; instead of insecurity in self, you can have security that you are safe in Christ; instead of living tied to others forceful opinions and declarations, you have freedom in God’s declaration that you are His and He loves you to the extent that He gave His Son’s life for your life.
The second part of this truth of freedom from condemnation finds itself presently active in your life, yet longing for completion. It is the experience of this truth of God’s pardon and your adoption in God’s family. Whereas the former point centered on the historical fact that happened – it’s reality – this aspect focuses on your present experience of that fact amid your suffering. While God’s pardon and adoption has most certainly happened and is very real and has very real and very present benefits, sometimes it seems muted and dimmed in the shadow of the abuse you receive from your classmates, your coworkers, your parents. And truly the abuse you receive is a terrible, cruel, and unjust thing. But God’s truth sheds a silver lining, which the most lethal and darkest of storms cannot hide. Paul continues, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”. (Rom. 8:23-25) Paul here, and through the rest of the chapter identifies a few things: we, along with all creation groan in suffering under the weight of the Fall, yet we do not groan in vain, for a better day is coming in which we have hope, and while this hope will be revealed to us in God’s timing, God has conditioned us to wait for it with eager expectation and with patience.
It is comforting, in a strange way, to know that we are not the only sufferers. Suffering in community has its perks over suffering in isolation. Oftentimes, simply knowing that you are not the only sufferer, the only one being bullied, experiencing the blows of mindless taunts and beatings, can be a comfort. Further, in this hope (the hope of final and full deliverance of suffering and sin), we wait – both eagerly and patiently. We do so by first anchoring our lives upon the truths of Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh. He is the one who has been sacrificed that we might be pardoned. He is the one who has restored the broken relationship between God and us and has put all of us in community with each other. He is one who has come up from the grave, conquering sin, death, Satan, and has begun to reverse the effects of the Fall. He is the one who is seated over all things, ruling and reigning on his throne over all principalities, authorities, bullies, haters, scoffers, and malicious people. He is the one who is preparing a place for all his people void of suffering, pain, heartache, sin, disease, and death. He is the one who will come for his people to take them to this place to live with him in blissful harmony, where peace knows no end, for ever and ever. When we anchor our lives upon this truth, we are given stability even when the sweeping wind rages against our sails. Second, based on this truth, we move forward in life. We seek refuge from the storms in appropriate manners. We embrace the true reality of God’s work in our lives, not the forced reality of our oppressors. We cultivate awareness that the words of fools carry no weight, but the words of King Jesus have eternal value. Therefore, let us hold fast to Jesus’ reality and seek to live in hope of Jesus’ promises with all eagerness and patience.