Do you have birthmarks?

As we finish off 2014, here’s a quick look at one of the Top posts over the past year. Thank you for your readership, and I look forward to sharing more thoughts on our faith awakening in 2015.

–Andrew

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Many of us were born with a distinguishing design – a birthmark.

For some, it’s something to hide. For others, it’s a cute little thing. Scientists explain a variety of reasons these marks appear, but there still seems to be some mystery around it. Whether you like your mark or not, most will apparently see their birthmark fade between Age 5 and 10.

As children of God, we should all have birthmarks.

These won’t be related to pigmentation of the skin or blood vessels. Instead, these are the marks of one who has been born of the Spirit. Our spiritual birthmarks are not something of which we should be ashamed. They are defining characteristics that should be present in and among all those who are members of God’s family.

But just what are the marks of the children of God?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:1-5, NIV).

Love

According to John, everyone who is born of God should bare the mark of love. Our love should be evidenced in our interactions with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It should be a love born out of humility, sacrifice and putting others before ourselves. It’s a love reflective of our true bloodline – life in Christ.

We know our love for others is real when it springs from a deep love for God and carrying out His commands. We can’t say we love God and hate our brother. Our love for God is revealed in our love for others according to God’s Word. This means that our love is also closely connected to another birthmark.

Obedience

Everyone who is born of God should bare the mark of obedience. In fact, it is a defining trait of those who truly love God – if they obey His commands. We don’t obey because we have to or because we think we’re going to get something in return. No, our obedience is not a burden but a joyous response to the love first shown to us through Christ.

Our love and obedience for God shows a Spirit-empowered trust in Who God is. If God is truly God, then we can trust that all He has told us is true and worth living out. It is in our best interest and, more importantly, in the interest of glorifying His great name. This trust stems from a third birthmark that John gives to us.

Faith

Everyone who is born of God should bare the mark of faith. Placing our lives in the hands of the Overcomer. As we lovingly obey His commands, we join with Him in overcoming the darkness. Our faith is a characteristic of all those who have been brought into the light of the victory of Christ through His death and resurrection.

Who overcomes the world? “Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Our love, obedience and faith mean nothing apart from a relationship with Jesus. In Him, we receive forgiveness and redemption. In him, we are brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of heaven. In Christ, we are indwelt by the Spirit and enabled to bare the marks of one who has truly been born of God.

Marks of Life

“This has been a great talk and all, but what’s the point?”

If I may, let me answer your question with another question.

Where are the birthmarks in the family of God?

Looking at the Church today, one might see more unresolved conflict between brothers and sisters than sacrificial love. Unwillingness to be in the same room with another, harboring resentment, or holding on to a critical spirit. Where’s the love?

Consider your local church family. Would you say that people joyously obey the Word of God, or do His commands seem burdensome, too strict, legalistic? Many times people are content to sit and listen to a sermon but steadfastly opposed to applying it to their daily life. Where’s the obedience?

In the spiritual family, darkness should be overcome not welcomed. Confession should be the norm. Prayer should be the rule. God’s Word should be bolstering our faith as we do these things. Yet sometimes we find more characteristics of darkness than we do of the light. Where’s the faith?

Perhaps like physical birthmarks, we’re seeing some of the spiritual birthmarks fade away after 5 to 10 years of being a “Christian.” And yet, what would Jesus say?

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

…Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23).

Everyone who is born of God should bare the marks of new birth through faith in Christ and the power of the Spirit.

If someone were to look for birthmarks in your life and mind, would they find them?

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