Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Week 1 Day 5: Children of God

“…to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12,13

Children of God
Our identity, our sense of value, our self-worth doesn’t depend on our appearance, on our achievements, on our reputation, on our success, on our wealth, on our possessions, or any external factors. Instead, it’s rooted and deeply grounded within us: We know that we are loved by God and that there is nothing in the world that can separate us from the love of God.

– Br. David Vryhof


 


Transcript: Our theme this week is “God is Love,” and we’re asking in our prayer that God will reveal to us, deepen within us, the knowledge that we are deeply, profoundly, irrevocably and unconditionally loved by God. Today we focus on a couple of verses from the first chapter of John, where John writes, “To all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God who were born not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John is pointing us toward our true identity as children of God. He says when we open ourselves to receive the love of God as it’s brought to us in the person and work of Jesus, we become transformed and we begin to realize that our primary identity is this beloved child of God.

There are many things in the world that we use to talk about our identity or indicate our identity. We might talk about our vocation, our work, our relationships – all of them feed into who we are as people. John is suggesting that the most important thing about us is that we know that we are beloved children of God, because when we have this at the center of our identity, we can live in what Saint Paul calls “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Our identity, our sense of value, our self-worth doesn’t depend on our appearance, on our achievements, on our reputation, on our success, on our wealth, on our possessions, or any external factors. It doesn’t depend on those things. Instead, it’s rooted and deeply grounded within us. We know that we are loved by God and that there is nothing in the world that can separate us from the love of God.

So today might be an opportunity to reflect on your own sense of identity. From what and from whom do you derive your sense of worth, your sense of who you are? How might this be different if you embraced as the central characteristic of your identity the fact that you are a beloved child of God? I invite you to consider the kind of freedom that that brings.

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

55 Comments

  1. Dorothy Wilson on March 17, 2018 at 19:20

    God you love me for whom I am. I feel your presence everyday. You hear & know my voice , my soul & my heart ❤️. Thank you Father

  2. David John Drew on February 21, 2018 at 10:25

    O God, you know already that my uncle, my mothers’ brother, died of a sudden heart-attack on Monday night. He was a good husband, father and grandfather, the perfect son, a friend and mentor to many – loved by all, and missed. I wept for him Lord, knowing that yesterday was St. Valentine’s day and that despite all her friends and family support – that my aunt was alone in her heart for the loss of her lifetime companion – over fifty years of loving marriage. The theme of these past few days has been the hymn ‘Abide with Me’ –

    “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
    The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me…

    In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me
    Abide with me, abide with me…”

    O Divine Master of souls, I ask that you abide with me, allow me to mercifully experience your tender love in the face of death and decay, allow me to receive you in an act of supreme hospitality, may I possess the ability to invite you into my heart as a stranger, and to realize the gift of grace you offer in an unconditional embrace. I too am a stranger in the world, longing for companionship.

    I know that long ago, I was conceived as a thought in your mind from the beginning, before the emergence of the world as we know it. I became an emanation of your will – you willed me to exist, to live and breathe, to reflect your essential glory, to be an icon of your remarkable, and unparalleled Divinity, to shine in the darkness of the world. O Lord, somehow, I became lost in a thick forest devoid of all light, and forgot you as my origin – I was overcome by amnesia, distracted, lacking your Spirit. Yet I began to search to recover that which was lost and attempt to find the original meaning behind who I was, and what purpose my life was always intended to be. I struggled to rediscover your power in the world around and within myself.

    O Master of the Dance, I discovered your song and rhythm in everything around me, echoing as an eternal and sacred chant in my soul. Every atom praising your Name in unison, and as my faith evolved it transcended mere words and expressions of belief to the very essence of love that binds and fills, a vast ocean of love that permeates, saturates and infuses everything with your power. Without your power, nothing can exist.

    O Lord God Almighty, may I be conformed totally, in your eyes and judgement, to your will alone.

    + Amen

    Pax – David.

  3. Jack in B.C. on February 21, 2018 at 00:05

    This really is the heart of things, isn’t it? Our true identity that is a priori everything else. Not about finding out who we are by how we are in the world and what we do etc. But rather becoming deeply conscious of this identity as beloved (beloved!) children of God – not dependent on the futility of our lives, which will all turn to ash (thank God!) – and allowing that consciousness to transform how we are in the world and work itself out in the detail on our lives such that it is not futile after all, even if it does all still turn to ash! Without that consciousness, it seems to me, so much of what we do as human beings really is futile (vanity, the Bible calls it), but with this consciousness we (I) discover something abiding, something eternal, a treasure beyond the outer futility that falls away. Alleluia! I’m a bum! (Woody Guthrie).

  4. Jennifer on February 19, 2018 at 18:57

    This has been hard for me, maybe from so many years spent as a Catholic “doing all the things'”, including choosing a profession that serves the church ( organist and choral director.) While I know that my work did and does serve to lift people up, enhance their worship etc, it did get very tangled up in my self-worth. When a big disruption caused me to step back and take a rest and take stock, I discovered both the SSJE and the works of Richard Rohr, OFM, who pretty much “saved my life.” Since then I have tried to keep this in the front of everything : that I am God’s beloved child, forever and always, and what I DO in my work is not my identity but my response, as a gift back to God and to others.

  5. James on February 18, 2018 at 22:59

    Who am I? I am a beloved child of God. One of God’s children. I need to take a moment to let that sink in.

    This makes me Jesus’ brother and heir to the throne of God. Whoa! As much as my earthly father loved and cared for me, it was a mere shadow of the love God has for me. He cares deeply for me, watches over me, and provides for me as no earthly parent can.

    I am co-heir with Christ in an inheritance that is impossible to fathom this side of Heaven.

    My self-worth is found in God and no where else.I will stumble and I will fall, but my Heavenly Father will be there to steady me and set me on the right path as I seek his wisdom, love and face.

    I need to be still and know he is Lord and Father.

    • Bishop Hollywood on February 19, 2018 at 21:46

      Realizing that we are children of God means alot. It means that not only are born again and washed in the blood of the Lamb but with that comes responsibilities and standards. First we are to love our Father in heaven, secondly love each other and always live in accordance to the Word. Not doing or saying what everyone else is doing and saying, but be different from the norm of society and being not afraid to show it and live it. We ought to let our light shine so that people know that we are children of God.

  6. Tamara Schupman on February 18, 2018 at 19:26

    Again, I needed something visual, other than written words to help me see this. I took two plain gingerbread figures. Inside one I wrote all the things that I believe define me: mother, daughter, grandmother, teacher, singer, actor, conductor, audiobook reader. It was dizzying to look at, and I could see all the vulnerabilities, where I could be wounded, hurt, feel unloved. In the other figure I placed God, and filled in the head, arms, fingers, feet, mouth/throat, spine with how God leads me to respond to the world. Yes, I experienced an overwhelming sense of freedom, rather than a feeling of being overwhelmed. I overwhelm myself and lose my true freedom by defining myself and life with things, activities, perceived talents. When I define myself as a Child of God, the entire picture changes, and I am truly free to live and give in Love. Today may I let nothing but God define me and free me.

    • SM Coleman on February 22, 2018 at 19:37

      Thank you for your gingerbread image. i have cluttered my mind with the sense of expectations and what i should do. My God gingerbread is all heart and scents, agape love.

  7. Mary Anderson on February 18, 2018 at 00:06

    I am a beloved child of God. Help me to hold this dear to me and to always be reminded of God’s unconditional love.

  8. Vanessa Rose on February 17, 2018 at 23:38

    I know I am a child of God, I was reminded if this in my weekly gathering of (Meeting Jesus). We said our names individually in the circle, and I thought about our holy baptism in the Church. It is wonderful to see the innocence of children in Sunday school. It is comforting to know that we too as adults on our Christian journey and walk with God that we are “Children of God” and will continue to be. Scriptures tell us to come to God as a little child….I interpret this with awe and wonder. May we all be encouraged during the day, that ‘We are Children of God and His love for US in unconditional”. I have enjoyed reading the comments of others.

  9. chris.ingersoll@kos.net on February 17, 2018 at 02:53

    Being given the freedom to choose how I live my life and reflect the love of God that reigns in me can be a scary thought. I am not forced to live like Jesus, but I want to live my life like Jesus. My wanting and God’s letting me do that is energizing. My fear is that I will feel overwhelmed with the outside world and might want to follow the world which is very easy. The feeling that I am a child of God brings me to send loving thoughts to Ann for the loss in her grandson’s life and those in Florida who have been devastated by the killings in the school there. I can emphasize with these families. Lives lost to not only life but a change to know who’s child they are or can be.

  10. Jaan Sass on February 16, 2018 at 22:47

    I am sorry for your loss and will pray for Nick and his family and will pray for your family. I have seen a lot of people in my life attempt suicide including my sister but could not imagine what is like to lose someone close from suicide.
    This reading was difficult for me. I have always wanted to identify with a vocation but suffered a lot of personal failures in my life. I know that I am a child of God, but at times I am Jealous of others who are more accomplished at my age. When I am centered on the thought that I am a child of God I feel at peace with my past. I wish that I could stay with that thought and emotion always.

  11. Jayne on February 16, 2018 at 22:37

    I am reminded of a baptismal hymn, Child of Blessing, Child of Promise. The 3rd verse goes “Child of joy, our dearest treasure, God’s you are, from God you came. Back to God we humbly give you; live as one who bears Christ’s name.” I pray that I can feel that blessing and freedom of being God’s beloved child, and that my actions today reflect Jesus’ love.

  12. Julie on February 16, 2018 at 20:16

    I retired a year ago and while I didn’t find my identity in my job or title, it took some time to adjust to not working. My relief came when I felt I no longer had to hide the fact that I never finished high school, let alone college, after having much success in my career in health care IT and consulting. Six months after retirement, my husband and I sold everything that the world says is valuable, and bought an RV.

    So, now as we travel the country, we are liberated from the confines of material things. We see Gods love in the people we meet, in the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. We feel God’s faithfulness to us and His protection in our travels. In just these few months that we have been traveling, I have so many stories to tell and am so grateful to know I am His beloved.

  13. Julie on February 16, 2018 at 09:22

    Such a foundational truth that affects every aspect of our life with God. Thank you for this precious reminder of my true identity.

  14. Rhode on February 15, 2018 at 23:30

    It would be wonderful to write ‘I obtain my worth from Gods’ love’. The day to day pressures and attractions of life make me work on my outward appearance, things and stuff that say “success”. All Distractions. The bible helps me slow down, stop and visualize how great God is. Jesus help me to visualize how good God is. I say I believe in Jesus. I believe in His words. Oprah said “you don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.” Not a big Oprah fan …but from her mouth to Gods’ ear. I am still growing in this realization that Gods’ love for me is not dependent on my actions or my feelings; that the freedom of True Love which God offers removes the pressure to be good – to act good — yet, shows us, through Jesus (and others) what love can do.

  15. Jennifer on February 15, 2018 at 23:11

    I would like to say I derive my central identity from knowing I am a beloved child of God but know for most of my daily life I derive my identity from awareness of my personality traits (introverted, conscientious, etc), work, relationships with others and my relationship with myself.
    If I remember my central unchanging identity is as a beloved child of God then I am free in a number of ways. There is freedom in this central identity even when the the circumstances of my life and relationships change. There is freedom in knowing my central identity as a beloved child of God is based on God’s love for me and not my love for God and/or my response to God. There is freedom because I know God drew me to Him, my identity as a child of God was not a result of a decision I made but “I was born not of blood or of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God”.

    • Bryan Cook on February 16, 2018 at 18:13

      Thanks Jennifer, your concept of central identity overriding peripheral identities is one I will remember, especially when the latter get me into trouble, sadness and depression.

  16. Beverly on February 15, 2018 at 22:18

    Twenty-two years ago, at a mini-retreat for parents, we were given a challenge. Standing blind-folded before our small group, each of us had to speak for two minutes in response to the question, “Who am I?” The real challenge was that we couldn’t say anything about where we lived, what we did for work or leisure, our children/spouse/family, or any possessions. After about ten seconds, I had nothing left to say, And I stood there for the remainder of those two minutes (which felt like twenty minutes), not being to see/gauge others’ reactions and not knowing what to say. It became one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had, and was the beginning of a journey toward sacred integrity that continues today—in fits and starts, and always with Grace. In prayer that all of us may experience a Holy Lent, drawing ever-closer to who we are in God.

    • Suzanne on February 17, 2018 at 23:38

      So powerful! A great exercise, even when not in front of group. Really gets to the core of who we are as a person, our Self, bare and exposed. Thank you for sharing.

    • mary on February 20, 2018 at 06:55

      AGREE! what a great story. thank you for sharing.

  17. David Ames on February 15, 2018 at 22:09

    When I focus on what it means simply to be as a tiny speck within God’s creative and infinite universe on this fragile earth, I try to see the face of God in every person I meet. My identity is known to me in my relationships with others. It is in our relationships that we are bound to God and to one another and “born by the will of God.” For me life is a gift and I am thankful to share in the abundance of “God, the giver of Life.”

  18. Eunice W. on February 15, 2018 at 21:54

    Being raised in an atmosphere where I could never please God, it took many years to realize how precious I am to God. These days I bask in Gods love and wish only to share this loving God through my life!

  19. Paul on February 15, 2018 at 21:14

    “He gave power to become children of God.”
    “He gave power” suggests to me that we have been transferred/transformed from one state to another. I guess that God who gives us power to become, will give us power to remain in this beloved state. I am thankful to be one of the family, with a great variety of brothers and sisters.

    • Barbara on February 21, 2018 at 19:54

      Thank you for sharing this program ,is already making me feel good . About who I am. MANY THANKS TO ALL who opens their hearts to share.

  20. Zane Osborne on February 15, 2018 at 21:10

    The idea of embracing the central theme in my life being that I am a beloved child of God. One who is adopted; that God chose to have me as a son. This concept of selection as a son is even more powerful as it demonstrates a willful and deliberate choice by God, my parent, to have me as His son!

    This is a profound truth that I need to let permeate and impact and guide my life so that I can be all that My Father asks and empowers me to be.

  21. James R. on February 15, 2018 at 20:34

    I am retired now but when I was working I derived my sense of worth mainly from my job. I am told a lot of people do this. Mine seems to have been the opposite from most people. I didn’t feel my job was worth much therefore I wasn’t worth much either although people would tell me they felt otherwise. After retirement there seems to be a strange residual effect from my attitude toward myself from my former job. It takes the form of dreams which sometimes are nightmares. In the dream I have returned to my job and everyone is looking at me to do this major “catch up” after an absence of 10 years. I know this is impossible. I do not have the ability to do this. I had the dream again last night. Maybe this dream is symbolic of something else but I don’t think so. I have offered this situation to God in prayer (Lectio Divina) and I do believe God sees me as worthwhile and loved. However the dream continues.

    • gary on February 16, 2018 at 21:21

      Hey James, I retired 4 years ago and almost every night I have dreams (sometimes bad but mostly just basically factual) reliving my years working at my only 2 jobs. Last night was particularly disturbing. My supervisors play a prominent role, acting the same way and saying the same things they always did. I never liked my jobs, was never qualified for them, never produced anything really important and regretted every year that I remained unwilling or uninterested in pursuing something rewarding. But I got along with everyone and liked many of the people. But yes, I know what you’re going through. The dreams happen less when I’m consistent with my prayer life (saying the daily offices once or twice a day). But so far nothing (including psychiatry & spiritual direction) has stopped them completely. I’ll pray for you and your night life!

  22. Helen Gretz on February 15, 2018 at 19:38

    Now this is a concept I can sink my teeth into (I know, I know, grammar police will be all over me for ending a sentence with a preposition…). We – I – readily self identify by our roles as parent, sister/brother, spouse, worker, volunteer. We – I – are often at a loss when these things fall away fall apart fall fall fall. I have never thought of identifying first as a child of God, and beloved to boot! Loved unconditionally even as I love my own. Wondering, now, what might happen if I can hold this in my mind (help me Lord) while I go about this day. Any day.
    God’s Peace.

  23. Christopher on February 15, 2018 at 19:05

    I know in my heart that as child of God I am blessed with all I need in health, happiness and holiness.

  24. Patricia George on February 15, 2018 at 18:41

    Interesting that today’s thoughts are concerned with our identity and being one with God, asI have been reading, for the third time, a book about just that! You may like to read, The Impersonal Life by Joseph Benner. Available at Chapters and on Amazon… Enjoy!

    • Mary on February 15, 2018 at 19:43

      I praise and thank God for creating me, and for God’s constant love, nurture, forgiveness, help and companionship throughout my life – 85 years now.
      Without God I am nothing.
      With God nothing is impossible.

    • Joan on February 16, 2018 at 18:03

      Mary: You and I are both 85 and thankful too for our lives. I since this study can again look at others and honestly think God loves that person. as He loves me.
      t

  25. Liberty Ford on February 15, 2018 at 18:34

    Amen. I learn all the time from people who have not received, or perhaps I should say don’t realize they have received. It teaches me the profound value of our baptismal vow to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

  26. Bryan Cook on February 15, 2018 at 18:16

    My parents gave me through physical birth a genetic code which underpinned much in my life and, through example, a moral code by which to live as a member of a global society. God gave me a spiritual birth with unconditional love and a soul which never dies , despite all that I have done to myself because he also gave me free will. Nurturing my soul through prayer, through spiritual communion and spreading that conditional love brings me that inner peace which God wishes for me and for the world.

  27. Anne Campbell on February 15, 2018 at 18:15

    I am grieving the suicide of a 19 year old friend of my grandson. He was a strong believer, had Bible verses plastered on the walls of his UVA dorm room. He was kind, smart, a role model and mentor to everyone.
    Tragic that he felt “ The darkness had overcome him “ and the light, for him, did not overcome the darkness.
    I would ask that you all pray for Nick and his family and friends who are so affected by his death. He hung himself.

    • Delores on February 16, 2018 at 10:23

      Dear Anne,
      I pray that you and Nick’s family and friends can feel God’s embrace enfold and comfort you. And I pray that Nick has found the peace that eluded him on earth with God. My husband jumped from a bridge to his death when he was 38. I was 34 and our children were 6, 8 and 11. That was in 1974. God was the source of my strength and He brought all of us through that perilous period in our lives. May God bless and keep all of you, too.

    • Delores on February 16, 2018 at 18:14

      Edit to Delores’ reply to Anne’s comment: Some misplaced words changed my meaning in my original comment. It should read, “I pray that Nick found the peace with God that eluded him on earth.” God understood what was in my heart. I hope other readers did, too.

    • gary on February 16, 2018 at 21:11

      Oh, Anne, what a terrible thing to happen. A spiritual director I know just lost her 14-year old son the same way. Growing up in this world is very hard, especially for people who see the world through the Lord’s eyes, and who sees God, as Nick did, in the hearts and souls of others. I can’t help but thinking St. Paul’s comment–living or dying, I am the Lord’s– is misunderstood by people who may think, then, life isn’t as precious as most think it is. No words can express to Nick’s family and your grandson the heart-wrenching grief and sadness those of us who love God, life, and SSJE, feel for Nick’s loss. But I suppose prayer can, and God will know.

  28. Julia on February 15, 2018 at 18:07

    My best moments are when I am “an instrument of his peace.” I find that if I myself can’t take in the love directly – it is uncomfortable to take in the full embrace because it is such a huge shift in consciousness – I can receive it and pass it onward. A source of the holdback, I think, is that we humans crave contrast – if there is white then there must be black —so the entirety of God’s love is overwhelming – what would i do with only love and no upset? Who would i be? I feel i need a lot more meditative practice to become comfortable with the all encompassing nature of that love …

  29. Susan on February 15, 2018 at 17:17

    Being so broken in body, I am comforted by my identity as a child of God.

  30. agatha08 on February 15, 2018 at 17:11

    If I knew I was a child of God, I’d relax and rest more. It seems like I am always busy doing something. Many times those “somethings” aren’t really very important.

    If I am truly an heir to the kingdom, I don’t need to exhaust myself every moment with activities; I need to rest and enjoy my relationship with God more.

  31. Margaret on February 15, 2018 at 16:59

    Some balance needed for those who are suffering and struggling from Romans 5: “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us…”

  32. John David Spangler on February 15, 2018 at 16:37

    What is the scope of God’s love? Doesn’t it extend beyond “all who received Him”? Aren’t we all, everyone not just those of have received Him, children of God? Weren’t we all born “by the will of God”? We may or may not seek God. We become aware of God, because He loves us. We receive Him not by our efforts but by His grace. Though they might not have known God, He has spoken to me through the voices of many of have “not received Him”, agnostics, athiests, whoever. Surely, they are God’s children just I know that I am. No one is, I believe, separated from the “love of God”. We need, and He provides, continuous help in remembering and enjoying that love. For such help, I thank the brothers and my non-believing friends.

    • Liberty Ford on February 15, 2018 at 18:33

      Amen. I learn all the time from people who have not received, or perhaps I should say don’t realize they have received. It teaches me the profound value of our baptismal vow to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

    • Diane on February 15, 2018 at 18:44

      Amen, Amen!

    • Randall Day on February 15, 2018 at 20:40

      It seems to me this has to be true – that we do not limit God’s presence in the world and in the lives of other people by restricting God to those we or a religious institution can “approve” through placing a condition (“receive” – which religion is always very happy to define). What is true for one or some is true for all. Also, I experience God in people who see themselves as “agnostic” or “atheist” or “Buddhist.” (Which says something about all these labels, why they emerge, and their value).

  33. Debbie Deppe on February 15, 2018 at 16:14

    Remembering that I belong to God enables me to deal with the toxic people I encounter in life. I can remain calm. I can pass this reality to my students and remind them that they are beloved children of God when they’re stressed.

  34. Annalisa Sedgwicke on February 15, 2018 at 15:49

    My anger and fear, arising from my ego, separate me from God. I was caught up like that when I began the reading for today. One question caught me up, bringing me back to re-read it several times. Then as I reflected upon that statement, ‘from what and from whom do I derive my sense of worth…?’ I caught myself in the act of ego. Caught in the act, I humbly returned to God.

    • Vanessa Rose on February 17, 2018 at 23:43

      Well said Annalisa, your comments are true and from the heart. God is with us always. May I suggest short mediations to enable you to focus brining you to centre knowing his love. We can realize too in our journey with God that we are indeed his children, and sometimes as adults we may forget. May you have a wonderful prayerful day.

  35. Lisa F on February 15, 2018 at 15:49

    Deep in my heart I believe this truth. It’s in my human mind that doubts arise. I remind myself daily Romans 12:2
    “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
    When my thoughts tell me I’m not enough, I get quiet and pray. Confessing I am a beloved child of God. Drawing neare to God is how I allow the holy spirt to transform my thoughts that sometimes go astray.

  36. Keith Aldred on February 15, 2018 at 15:22

    COMMIT YOUR WAY TO HIM AND HE WILL GUIDE.

  37. sue hole on February 15, 2018 at 15:01

    Realising this in my faith has enabled me to feel really loved for the first time in my entire life ( I never felt safe or loved as a child) – and it is a great comfort to me. Thanks be to God.

  38. Marylyn Collins on February 15, 2018 at 11:58

    I am God’s own beloved child! Can this be? Help me to take this word into all of my being, all of the time.

  39. Marylyn Collins on February 15, 2018 at 11:55

    I am God’s own beloved child! Help me to really take this fact into my life.

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