May 17, 2016 • Life for Leaders
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
When high school students decide which college to attend, one of the first things they do is to purchase a shirt or sweatshirt with the name of the institution emblazoned on the front. They wear this brand proudly, proclaiming to the world: “I’m a student at USC” or “I belong to UCLA.” They are glad to be associated with their college and want the whole world to know.
Do I really think of myself as God’s servant, child, ambassador, and saint? Or am I defined more by some of the other labels I wear? What really defines me?
In Revelation 22:4, we find a similar phenomenon. Except, in this case, the brand doesn’t go on a t-shirt, but rather on people’s foreheads. And the identification is not with a college, but rather with God. As John puts it, “They will see [God’s] face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (22:4). This means that those who serve God and see his face belong to him. They are God’s servants, God’s chosen people, and God’s beloved children. Their relationship with God defines them more than anything else.
As I reflect on this passage from Revelation, I think about all the different “brands” I “wear” in life. I belong to my wife (and wear a ring she gave me). I’m glad to be associated with my children, as well as my family of origin and extended family. I am identified by what I do, by my work with the De Pree Center at Fuller Seminary. I’m part of a church, an ordained Presbyterian pastor, an alumnus of a college, a resident of Pasadena, a citizen of California and the United States. All of these associations and so many more define me to some extent, and this is not necessarily wrong. But, I wonder how much I am defined by my relationship with God.
When I think of who I am, do I see myself, first and foremost as belonging to the Lord? Do I “wear” God’s name on my forehead? Do I really think of myself as God’s servant, child, ambassador, and saint? Or am I defined more by some of the other labels I wear? What really defines me?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What really defines you? If you were to wear a word or phrase on your forehead that most clearly identifies you, what would it be?
What difference might it make in your life if you “wore” God’s name on your “forehead”? I’m not thinking right now of how others might see you so much as how you might see yourself. If you got up this morning and said, “I belong to God most of all,” how might this shape your day?
Gracious God, how glad I am to belong to you. Thank you for accepting me as your own, not because of my works, but because of your grace in Christ.
Help me, Lord, to see myself as belonging to you. May my relationship with you define who I am. May it put into right perspective all the other identities by which I am known.
As I go through this day, as I do the work that is before me, as I relate to my colleagues, friends, and family members, may I do so as one who belongs to you. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
I am really touched by this message and it has transformed my way of thinking and has made me to see the need for me to always the BRAND OF GOD ALMIGHTY.I am blessed by this short but detailed sermon. Amen.
Thank you, Kwesi, for your comment.
Editing: the middle sentence in the second paragraph under “Questions to Consider” does not need a question mark.
It would be great if Christian “branding” were a major focus of churches and other groups of believers. Our identity is crucial to all aspects of life, and it is so easy for us to get it wrong.
Thanks, Catharine, for your edit and for your comment.
Too often, I find myself so concerned with how others are “seeing” me. Love this message and the reflecting I am doing as I wrestle with it.
Boy, do I understand that! Thanks for your comment, Teresa.