Lately, I have been meditating on the topic of Identity. I see the theme everywhere I look these days. I’m speaking specifically about understanding more clearly, and living more deeply, from the revelation that we have been made sons and daughters of the Most High God. What does it look like for me to truly and radically live and move and have my being in Sonship? (see Romans 8:15-17 for instance.)
The Fable of the Sheep-Lion
I came across this fable of a sheep-lion that has caught my attention. As the story goes, this lion cub was accidentally born among a flock of sheep in a pasture. As the cub grew up among the sheep he began to behave just like sheep would. He became a young lion with a flowing mane, regal features and was much bigger than all the sheep around him. However, he bleated like a sheep, ate grass like a sheep and lived like a sheep. He had grown so accustomed to living like a sheep that it was easier for him to ignore the niggling thoughts about how different he felt from the other sheep.
One day, a huge and hungry lioness came out of nowhere and began to chase the flock of sheep looking for prey to eat. To her surprise, she saw this young lion with flowing mane running away from her at top speed! Curiosity got the better of the lioness’s hunger and she chased down this fleeing, fearful lion. She caught up to the young lion who almost fainted in fear. He bleated with nervous humour, “Please don’t kill me! I’m just a little sheep trying not to make my ends meat.”*
Realization dawned on the lioness; she was appalled at what had become of this young lion with his flowing mane and regal features. She grabbed him by his mane and pulled him to the nearby lake, pushed him to the water’s edge and forced him, in his terrified state, to look at his reflection in the water. “See, you are a lion like me. You are not the sheep that you think you are! I don’t know how you came to live among these sheep, but you were created to be a lion and that is what you are! Now, come with me to my Father’s den and we will teach you what it means to be a lion: to roar like a lion, to hunt for meat like a lion, to live fearlessly like a lion!”
The young lion who thought he was a sheep said, “Yes, I want to be the lion I was created to be and to do the things that lions are meant to do! I will come with you to your Father’s den.”
This is a parable about identity, about understanding who you were created (or re-created) to be, is it not? It is not about lions, lionesses or sheep. It’s about followers of Jesus KNOWING who they are as beloved Sons and Daughters of God, and LIVING like they know it!
I began to understand and to live in my primary identity as Son, not slave or sinner, when I joined the Catch The Fire church planting movement more than twenty years ago. And it’s been so freeing!
Fruit of Living out my identity as a Son
I can speak about many outcomes of my growing awareness, at a heart-level, of Sonship. I’ll mention three here:
- I have a greater sense of self-acceptance (warts and all). I used to have such self-loathing because of my weaknesses, brokenness and sinfulness. I often wished I was someone else, or could be more like … whoever exhibited the qualities I wished I had.
- Because I expend less energy trying to hold it together I am becoming more Christo-centric rather than ego-centric. By that I mean, my heart is more in touch with God’s acceptance of me therefore I invite the Presence of God into every aspect of my life – even the ugly parts. I ask Jesus to lead my life, even the areas that I’d rather he didn’t!
- As my level of intimacy with Jesus increases, I get to share in the things that are on his heart, like lovers do. As I mature in this revelation that I am a co-heir with Christ I am less self-centred and more other-focussed. I am growing in confidence that my influence in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to bear on this earth is greater than I can think. In prayer, and in other ways, I KNOW I can influence the outcomes of so many situations, even the ones that seem so daunting!
How to connect to Sonship?
- We start by meditating on the Scriptures, especially, the ones that speak directly or indirectly to adoption to Sonship. We ask Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts, not just our intellects, about our identity. We ask him to make the truth of these scriptures come alive in us!
- We then ask Holy Spirit to show us what our Orphan tendencies are – whether they be insecurity, independence, drivenness, self-loathing, comparison, etc. We ask Holy Spirit to show us the lies that we have (inadvertently) believed that have led us to exhibit these orphan tendencies. We ask him to show us the truth to replace those lies; then we choose to believe the truth.
- We ask God to place us in relationships (including churches) that would help us foster understanding and living out our identity as Sons and Daughters and in so doing fulfill our God-given purposes in life! “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your destiny.”
This is not a one-time event. Do this on an ongoing basis and you will see the fruit of Adoption being borne in your life like never before! Amen!
* This lion-sheep has learned to use humour as a defence mechanism to deflect from having to deal with fear and other challenging emotions.