The voice of our God says: “You are my son, my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” And the voice of our enemy says: “If you really are the son or daughter of God, prove it.” (Mt. 3:16-4:11) I don’t know about you, but I have spent just about every day of my life trying to prove to myself and my world that I am worth loving. It is as consuming as it is exhausting.
For we live in a world that says, “You are what you do, you are how you look, or you are what you have. It’s all about how you perform, about how you stack up against those around you. Do more, be more, and have more or you will get left behind. Others will get the attention and affection you so desperately desire. After all, there’s only so much love and admiration to go around, so you better make sure you get yours, even if it’s at the expense of others.”
But we don’t have to live that way. We don’t have to live according to the lies. After all, Jesus himself said that it is “the truth that sets us free.” God created us for so much more than the scarcity we tend to live out of. He created us for abundance. His love is both unlimited and unfailing, it will not run out. He is the only one who can give us the love and affection that is able to satisfy our deepest longings. You see, identity can never be achieved, it can only be bestowed. And it can only be bestowed by the One who made us. We are of infinite value in his eyes, not because of what we do or how we look or what we have, but because of who we are. Or, more appropriately, because of whose we are. Only when we live out of that truth can we have any hope of living the free and whole and loving lives he created us to live.
After all, that’s why the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness in the first place. It was an offensive move. It was to wage war. It was restore our God-given identities. The forty days and forty nights in the desert were symbolic of the forty years the people of God wondered in the wilderness. The temptations that Jesus faced, and defeated, were pretty much the same temptations the Israelites succumbed to. Jesus was reversing the effects of the fall. He was going into the wilderness to do battle with the enemy for our God-breathed identities. It was a journey that began in the wilderness and ended at the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus was showing us that we, like him, are the beloved. He was making a way for us to reclaim, and live out of, our true identities.
And even though it is a battle that has already been won, we certainly don’t live as though it has. For some reason we still let the lies enslave us. Jesus has given us the power and the ability and the freedom to reclaim and live out of his deep love and affection, rather than out of the lies of the enemy. The only question is: Will we? Will we listen to and live out of his truth, or will we continue to be controlled by the lies of the enemy? The choice is ours.