Encouragement From The Word

Verify Your Identity

The weeks leading up to Christmas are busy for most everybody, whether it’s preparing extra services (hello, preachers!) or going to celebratory gatherings or buying the right gifts for people we love.

And in the retail world, especially online, it’s a busy time for fraudsters.  We know of this personally in our house.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife’s Amazon account became inaccessible.  It turns out that someone had successfully guessed her password, turned on two-factor authentication to his or her phone, and then made some fairly big purchases.  We only found this out when we called the credit card company to cancel the card and re-issue it; the outstanding balance on the card was A LOT higher than we ever keep it.

After several days and several calls, the issue seems to be resolved with both Amazon and the credit card company, but the challenge my wife had with this whole ordeal was being able to verify her identity – something that we always have to do when dealing on the phone with any number of organizations.

Whether it’s through passwords or verification texts or multi-digit codes or one’s mother’s maiden name or what-have-you, the ways in which we must verify who we are can be confusing, as necessary as these things are (and, in the end, they’re not always tamper-proof).  Isn’t it good to know, then, that there is one iron-clad aspect to our identity that can’t be messed with?

For followers of Jesus, that’s our identity in Christ.

Identity has become a big buzzword nowadays, not just in terms of commerce, but in terms of nationality, sexuality, pronouns, vocation, and countless other things.  It can be quite confusing, especially for those who are particular about it.  But for people of The Way, for Christians, there is only one aspect of identity that really counts:  we belong to Jesus.

And the really good news is that this identity cannot be stolen from us.  It is given by the Father, and he will not take it away.

If there is any two-factor authentication for our identity in Christ, it’s in how we live.

We don’t engage in good works to earn our identity in Christ; that’s given to us.  It’s all grace.   But we can prove our identity in Christ by what we do.

Whether it’s offering a kind word to the person who serves you coffee, or shovelling a neighbour’s driveway, or inviting a lonely friend for a meal – the possibilities are endless – we prove our identity as followers of Jesus by what we do, by how we live.

So make sure you have two-factor authentication turned on so you can verify your identity as one who belongs to Jesus.

[L]et your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5.16b, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Our special day

Today is a special day for Christians around the world.  It’s known as the Feast of All Saints, or All Saints’ Day.  In our culture, it has become the homely, dumpy cousin to the more popular and dapper All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en.  But I think All Saints’ Day is worth making a fuss over.

If you have any familiarity with the Apostles’ Creed, you know that this historic statement of Christian faith has us affirm a belief in something called “the 0ac8554309Communion of Saints”.  What is the Communion of Saints?

Put simply, it’s that company of faithful followers of Jesus who have died and already are spending eternity in God’s holy presence, and us.  We who follow Jesus here and now are included in the Communion of Saints.   In that sense, All Saints’ Day is our day – the day all Christ-followers can rejoice in the gift of God’s covenant faithfulness toward his people, past and present…and future.

You may have heard the story before, but it bears repetition.  One time, a child was sitting in church, looking at the stained glass windows.  He wondered about the figures depicted in the windows, and asked his mother, “Who are those people in the stained glass windows?”

“Those are saints,” she replied.  Just then, the clouds blew away, leaving the sun to shine on the windows without obstruction.

“Oh, I get it,” said the little boy.  “Saints are people the light shines through.”

Indeed, he did get it.  Do you?  Is the Light shining through you this All Saints’ Day?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5.16, NIV).