All this time at home has given me a great opportunity to catch up on some classic Disney movies! Personally, I think Disney movies are one of the best ways to unwind from a long day or to unplug because they’re just so much fun. The other day, I was watching Aladdin, a TRUE classic. But, the plot got me thinking: how exhausting must it have been for Aladdin to keep up his secret identity? Only a few of his closest friends knew the real him, and when his secret that he wasn’t a prince came out, everyone became so angry and felt betrayed. Yikes.
It made me so sad to think that, even though none of us are faking royalty, we might still grapple with who we really are. We might make up this elaborate persona by day, but it is so tiring to keep up this persona all day, every day. We have to fit certain characteristics to fit in one place, do certain things to fit in another. Sometimes, it seems so hard to find a place and a group of people that accepts me for just that: me.
Thankfully, there is one place I know I will always belong, and that is in the family of God. As cheesy as it sounds, this truth is rooted in Scripture. God promises us that if we receive His son Jesus and believe in His name, He gives us the right to become His children! (John 1:12). If we believe that God sent His son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it through His steadfast love, we are grafted into His family. If we belong to Christ, we are heirs according to this promise, just as Abraham was all the way back in Genesis (Galatians 3:29).
So what does that mean? Simple and easy. It means that if you believe in Jesus, you have a place to belong. It does not matter who you are or where you come from because God’s love extends to all who believe in His promise.
Now, that does not mean once we believe in Jesus and are welcomed into this family that we can go about and do whatever we want. Being in the God’s family does not have a “strict set of rules” per say, but rather to root all of our thoughts and actions in His unconditional love. Essentially, Jesus does not say we need to do a specific set of things in order to maintain our spot in His family, but rather act in a way that loves others as He has loved us.
Think of it this way: we are told that anyone can enter God’s family if they genuinely believe in Him. Right? And God commands us, above all, to love Him as we learn more and more about who He is. Cool. So as we learn more about God, we become more like Jesus, and since God graciously loves all of His people, we are called to do the same as we are working to become like Jesus.
Long story short, we do not have to keep up a fake personality like Aladdin did in order to maintain relevancy in the royal family. We are loved because God first loved us. However, once we enter into His family, we are called to a lifetime of love and grace. If we mess up here and there, that’s okay! But we should always strive to love our neighbors because that is what God implores us to do. We do not have to fear being exposed or caught messing up, but also should not become complacent in a damaging lifestyle. Once we are in His family, we come back to Him again and again because His love for us never ends. Live into that truth, and join the family. There’s no other place like it. – Katie Hufnagle
Journal Guide: Take some time to get alone today and take about 15-20 minutes to journal through these questions. Journaling is a way we pray to God, so see what God might be telling you.
1. What are some places you can be yourself?
2. Have you ever felt like Aladdin? How did it make you feel?
3. How can you live into the idea that you are in God’s family in your family? School? Friend groups?
4. Take some time to write a prayer to God.
Conversation Guide: Ask three questions to your siblings and parents. We think doing it over the dinner table or right after dinner is a great time to do it.
1. How does our family encourage one another to be genuine in who we are?
2. What are some ways our family can replicate God’s family?
3. How can we as a family invite others into God’s family?
Prayer: Read John 1 and then read this prayer by yourself:
Dear God, I am so grateful to be a part of your family. Thank you for your unconditional and steadfast love. Guide me in new ways I can love you and love others as you have demonstrated so powerfully and continue to demonstrate every day. Thank you for your invitation into your family and I pray I can remain faithful to your good word as I become more like Jesus. I love you. Amen.