October 2, 2022

Keep Shaping Our Peculiar Identity

Pastor KJ Kim

Isaiah 55: 1-13; Matthew 11: 28-30

Today’s passage tells us about how the Israelites were so worried about their peculiar identity which was under assault by coercive pressure during the 70 years of Babylonian exile. And the passage also questions us whether we have peculiar identity as believers and Christians. In the race to be faithful, I want to share three things we need to remember to shape our peculiar identity.

First, we should remember that we are the recipient of the free gifts of peculiar identity. We are reminded that free, but special gifts are still available for everyone who thirsts, is exhausted, and overwhelmed. Junk food cannot erase our identity; however, our peculiar identity might be continued by seeking a communal life—listening to God’s story, and eating, delighting, and inclining around this table to remember and celebrate free gifts we are given.

Second, God cannot be trapped in our thoughts and wishes. The passage tells us that other than our own thought, we trust God has a plan for us. Other than our own way, we believe God makes a new way. Other than our own wishes, we follow and seek God’s new visions.

We are often tempted to think that we know about God’s plans or God’s wills or God’s ways, misunderstanding that God might be trapped in our dimension. We wish we could put God into our small pocket, and want to carry God 24/7. However, God stands outside the competitive, coercive of practices of Babylon, holding to another purpose, in spite of every compromise, against every seduction.

Lastly, our calling is a departure. For the Israelites, the Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy was an invitation and permit. It was God’s vision that opened their eyes and hearts to see their time of slavery differently.

Likewise, we often feel like we live in the world of Babylon. We, perhaps, are on our own trip to depart our own Babylon and to go back to our true identity as people of God. The bad news for us is that our trip to be and act like people of God is not like boarding on a luxurious cruise. Rather, we sometimes feel like we stay in the rat race. So, we are often tired, exhausted, and too overwhelmed to run another rat step in the rat race.

The departure is to leave our own rat race and go back to our peculiar identity--the recipient of the free gifts and the ones who can put down their own thoughts and wishes in order to seek God’s own plans and thoughts. In the meantime, we may have been given a “visa” which is today’s passage, so that we can go out in joy even if our departure is also delayed. What is better news for us is that we all have this church, like the lounges at the airport during the time when our departure is delayed.

None of us cannot be too late on board journeying to be people of God. Come to Christ and know that we are not rats, but we are children of God.

Thanks be to God.