Identity; October 20, 2018


Galatians 3:7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.

This was an earth-shaking statement back in the 1st Century, and it still is to Jews today. Their whole identity, then and now, was/is wrapped up in physical lineage from Abraham, and here Paul is saying clearly that anyone can “join the club” by faith. In Romans 11 and elsewhere Paul talks about the meaning of genetic/physical Israel under the New Covenant. It’s not that the Jews are discarded, and it is significant on many levels that the Jewish state was reborn in 1948, but Jews too need to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, descended from Abraham and David. For the vast majority of people in the world, this verse is marvelous news and instantly makes the Old Testament relevant. If we are Abraham’s descendants by faith, then all the promises from Genesis through Malachi apply to us, as well as to genetic Jews. Many people have an identity/self-image problem. This verse should take care of that! We tend to forget that Jesus, and indeed the entire Early Church, up until Cornelius (Acts 10 and 11) was entirely Jewish. Antisemitism is entirely illogical, as well as demonic. Gentile believers should be eternally grateful for the privilege of being “grafted in” to the Abrahamic root-stock. (Romans 11:17-21)

Identity has long been an issue for me, growing up as a “Third Culture Kid” of American parents in Japan. It has been painful to me not to be accepted as Japanese because I am Caucasian, but at the same time I have had adjustment problems with trying to live in the US. This verse is indeed a comfort to me, and I have long clung to the statement that “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) I find that Japanese need this verse too, because they have just about as strong a racial identity as Jews do, and the majority see Christianity as a “foreign” religion. That’s ironic, since Buddhism was also “imported,” but it’s the case nonetheless. I have found that the people who are most likely to receive the Gospel with joy are those who have been excluded from society for one reason or another. I have personally had some of my best success at evangelism at a mental hospital. When people are secure in who and what they are, they see no reason to change. I am not to fail to share the Gospel with the secure, but neither am I to be surprised when they are less than receptive. The thing is, only Christians are secure when it comes to death, so I need to speak to that very basic insecurity and invite people into the assurance that can be had in Christ alone.

Father, thank You for this Word. Help me take it and run with it, (Habakkuk 2:2) so that many may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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