In Dicken’s tale, Oliver Twist, Oliver’s mother dies far from home while giving birth to him. Not knowing whose family he belongs to, he is raised in poverty in a work house. His troubles and the shame of his poverty define him. Eventually he runs away only to get caught up in a gang of thieves. He is caught trying to steal something, and now society defines him as a thief – he is defined by his sin and guilt. But the one he tried to rob turns out, as the story continues, to be his grandfather. He is more than the sum of his troubles, his shame, his sin, and his guilt. He is part of a wealthy family.
What is it that defines you? Maybe it is your troubles. Your trials are huge, and you have let them define your life. Maybe it is shame for some past hurt done to you. Maybe it is guilt for some past sin you committed. Maybe it a sin that you wrestle with today. But the one you sin against, it turns out, is your Father. You are more than your troubles, your shame, your sin, and your guilt. You are part of God’s family.
You are the beloved child of your Heavenly Father. As his child you have a new identity. You no longer have to be defined by your troubles, shame, sin, or guilt. Your identity is now found in Christ. Jesus suffered so suffering wouldn’t define you. He bore your shame, so you wouldn’t have to bear it anymore. He bore your guilt on the cross so you could be called righteous. And he defeated sin as he rose again so you could overcome it in your life. God loves you. You are his child. Find your identity here.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” – I John 3:1a