I was recently listening to a devotion given at FCA where the majority of my high school students attend. The speaker was very articulate, she had good volume, and captivated her audience. The subject of her devotion was #hash-tags.
She began by defining what a hash-tag is and how we get #hash-tagged by people around us. She reminded us that unfortunately we begin to believe these hash-tags.
The gears of my mind began to crank and it made me reflect on what theologians and pastors refer to as imputation. This young woman was teaching the students about imputation. Calling something what it is not. In her own manner she was expressing her growing understanding of a truth that is at work all around us.
She discussed the various hash-tags used in High School. People get hash-tagged ugly because they don’t wear the right clothes. They get hash-tagged stupid because they don’t take the “smart people” classes. She argued that we begin to believe these hash-tags and live according to them.
She’s right! What we are labeled we become. A pastor shared that he was labeled as a trouble maker when he was a kid and as such all the teachers treated him that way. He began to think that’s all he was and lived as such – a doofus trouble maker. We see this all the time in children, at work, or wherever. A child may be slower than the rest, but the teacher believes in them and treats them as smarter, brighter, and with dignity. The child becomes smarter, brighter, and dignified. People “live up” to the labels put on them.
As I reflected afresh on this truth I began to think of what God call’s us – his label for us. There are many, but they can be boiled down essentially into two – #rebel or #restored. The first hash-tag we most definitely live up to. We live “our way, right away” with little to no thought about those around us, let alone the Author of the story who has us as a supporting character exposing the various aspects of the main character. This is not the way we were created to be, so are #rebels in the Author’s kingdom.
But, there is another hash-tag the God has for us. Those whom Jesus has called he has restored into good standing in the kingdom. As such, God calls these whom his son has called, #restored.
This is the hash-tag that we have problems with if we have been united to Christ in faith. God calls us redeemed, righteous, restored, adopted, heir, etc. But our actions look like #rebel and we are afraid that #restored is just dreaming on God’s part.
But here is the the beauty of imputation. God calls us #restored because as we learn to trust what he says and not how we feel or perceive, we begin to live out of our new label. The Spirit works in the lives of #restored to bring about change from what #rebel was.
This is the struggle of the Christian’s life. Trusting what God says or what we think and feel. Learning to see as God sees in where our struggle comes from. This is what imputation bears out in the life of the believer. It grows what God has called us despite our own perceptions.