Andrew turned four today, and I love that kid. Mathematically speaking, my affection and commitment to him are incongruous to his behavior. My parents enjoy how similar little Andrew is to his dad. Apparently Andrew and the kid version of me, have similar views of authority, tolerance for pain, and pleasure in destruction.
This past Monday, Andrew shared in another of my memories by clogging the toilet. I stumbled, or splashed, upon the problem on my way to Jack and Toby’s bedroom. I thought it strange that a quarter-inch of water was on the floor, and said “Oh my.” Then I saw the water seeping under the door and said, “OH MY.” Finally, I opened the door to find Andrew, with no pants on, staring at the toilet overflowing with water, and said, “AW CRAP!” (Not literally mind you. Thankfully this was just a tinkle tsunami.)
Eight or nine towels and a bathmat later, the floor was clean, Andrew was bathed, and life resumed. I still don’t know what Andrew flushed, but the plunger did it’s job and I’m not searching the water treatment facilities.
I share that story to highlight the paradoxical love I have for that boy – he’s my son. No amount of back talk, bruised brothers, torn posters, or clogged pipes will ever change that. Those three letters: S-O-N, trump everything.
However, I still correct him. I discipline him. I revoke privileges and inflict pain. There are consequences for his choices that are inevitable, all without compromising his position in my heart. I love him as I discipline. I smile and see myself in him as I take away his Figment. The boy has my heart and there’s nothing he can do about it.
Sometimes, as Christians, we can confuse grace and identity. Our identity is who we are in Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor in our lives. They are not the same. I love these lyrics, from the song “I Am New,” by Jason Gray:
Hidden in Christ.
Made in the image,
of the Giver of Life.
Righteous and Holy.
Reborn and Remade.
Accepted and Worthy,
This is our new name.
Beautiful, aren’t they?
What I like best is that they are true. They describe the identity of a believer in Jesus Christ. As Andrew is my son, so believers in Christ are sons and daughters of God (John 1:12-12, 3:5-6). We are his kids and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for our choices. Grace doesn’t mean we can lie and not get caught, gossip and not hurt feelings, steal and not pay the price (wait a minute… isn’t that exactly what stealing is??? Think about it. Whoa.).
The believer’s identity is “Forgiven. Beloved. Hidden in Christ.” God’s grace made those statements all true, and maintains their truth even when we fail to love God and love others. Grace doesn’t mean we won’t face consequences. Grace means losing our identity isn’t one of the consequences we face.
(Andrew was just sent to his room for hitting Jeni. Consequences.)