Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 6:1-14 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Recently, I became a U.S. citizen. At the end of the process, I had to go in for an interview with a naturalization officer where they asked me some questions about U.S. history, followed by allegiance and loyalty questions. This was scary! What kind of officer would mine be? Would he or she be cold, sterile, uncaring? Would they attempt to trick me with tough, spurious history questions?
I sat in the waiting room with old interrogation movies playing through my mind. I began to wonder if I had what it took to become a citizen. Would they reject me? Would they push a button ejecting me through the floor, never to be heard from again? Had I told my family that I loved them?
Finally I was called and down the hall I went. A fragile yet cheerful young lady met me. She was warm and happy. She walked me into the office and proceeded to sit down behind the desk. She was my officer? Where was the angry, cold officer who was supposed to make me squirm?
At one point, she may have noticed how uncomfortable I was, so she whispered, “Don’t be nervous. Everything is as it should be.” The interview was going well.
That is, until we got to the portion on allegiance. She informed me that I must be willing to “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity” to my former country of citizenship, its leader and any of its laws. It caused a minor existential crisis in me. Becoming a citizen of the new place meant I had to allow loyalties for my former country to die! I was living a new life! It felt weirder and treasonous to my old identity.
I have always known myself as a Tongan, even if I barely speak the language and have only been back once since we left in the early 80s. I have traveled the world with a Tongan passport. And now this chapter of my life had to die because my citizenship and loyalty belonged to a different place. My new identity was grappling with my old one and it was reshaping the way I viewed myself.
Paul reminds us of our citizenship change here in Romans 6. Our loyalties and allegiance have moved through the process of death to new life in Christ. He has paid the price and “everything is as it should be.” We are no longer slaves to sin. We are dead to it. There is a new power at work in us. Now we must grapple with the new identity we’ve been given.
Our loyalties are to the Living Jesus! Our old identity has died, and now we live in Him! Not some cold, sterile God, but the lover of our soul. We are given an identity change that should constantly cause a minor existential crisis in each of us, every day.
Recalibrate: How are you living your life today, in light of your citizenship in Christ and His Kingdom?
Respond: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal in your life which loyalties are not in line with citizenship of the Kingdom of Christ.
Research: Reread Matthew 4 where Jesus calls Peter and his brother to leave their current life and follow Him. Notice in the Gospels how they grew into their citizenship.
Remember: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14, ESV).
Iki Taimi is the lead pastor at Gardena Genesis Community Church—a congregation that he planted in the Southern California Conference (SCC). He has a deep passion for young adults and creative ministries and serves as the SCC’s chairperson for Young Adult and Senior Youth Ministries and co-founded the secular collegiate ministry C3. He is married to Melanie and they have two beautiful children, Mikayla and Lio. Iki loves people, food, and Jesus.
Today is Make a Mess Monday! Put a plastic tablecloth on the floor and give your little one a selection of different textured things to play with. Pour water. Have them pick up large spiral pasta pieces with their little fingers. Squish Play-Doh or pizza dough or even bananas. Encourage your child to experiment with all that is on offer. Know that our heavenly Father encourages us to live life knowing that He loves us and has prepared a smorgasbord of experiences for us.
Not long ago, I met someone who collects toy cars. The cars are neatly kept in the boxes in a drawer. Can you imagine how boring that is for the cars? Do you think that is what the cars were made for? When I was little, I sometimes felt that to be a good kid I had to sit still and not make any noise, kind of like the toy cars. What do you think a kid is designed to do? Make a list or draw a picture that shows what you think kids are designed to do.
When I was in high school, I developed the horrible habit of gossiping. It was so much fun to listen and to share all drama that was going on with others. It seemed harmless, but talking about other people was quite damaging to them, whether they were aware of the gossip or not. My big wake-up call was actually reading Romans 1 for the first time and seeing that it was in this list of sins. I hadn’t thought about how it was impacting my relationship with God. Take a moment to think about your identity. What kind of person are you? Do any of the roles you play influence your actions? Are there any parts of you that don’t align with your life in Christ? What are they?