Fun with Flags

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When I was small, my father called me a chatterbox on occasion. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I don’t think it was a compliment. Just to be sure, I looked it up. According to the dictionary, it is a person who talks at length about trivial matters. Ok, that might be true. Yikes, now I have learned to write about them.

At our church, small groups are chatterboxing up a storm. Our new study, Crash the Chatterbox, by Stephen Furtick, seems to be hitting a nerve. This book is teaching us to hear God’s voice above all others.

My particular small group consists of people coming from all stages of life and all manner of financial security. Yet when asked to identify the voices of doubt and insecurity we each hear everyday in our heads; there was astounding consensus. I noticed that despite all our valiant efforts to get this life thing right, each of us are fearful our past or current performance simply won’t be enough. Dread of failure looms large in most of our lives.

This was such a prevalent theme; you might get the notion the enemy’s strategy against all of us isn’t really that novel. He can incapacitate anyone with fears of inadequacy. To combat these feeling of insecurity, we honed in on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:13-14.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Keeping in mind that identity trumps insecurity,

we considered what this passage teaches us about who we are in Christ.

This scripture took me back to my teaching days at the university. I loved teaching the discovery and exploration of the Americas in the fifteenth century.   The Spanish legitimately get a bad rap for a lot of things.  But I was always amused by their method of land acquisition. They were notorious for claiming new territory by staking a flag in the ground as they moved along. They claimed thousands of acres in this way as they explored new territory.

Now I love a good flag as much as anyone.

Flags are fun.

But it takes a lot more than a flag to establish ownership.

Their tactic was about as silly as if the United States planted a flag on the moon and thereby announced ownership of it.  Ridiculous. If any country actually wants to own the moon, they will need to leave a lot more than a flag on the surface. They will need to leave reinforcements. If and when someone manages to plant an outpost on the lunar surface and occupy it, then maybe we could write up a deed, give it a pretty stamp, and call it a deal. No land is truly under ownership until those who occupy it are capable of defending it against others who would claim it as their own. The Spanish maintained land but only when and where they left enough troops to hold and defend the newly raided territory.

In this vein, it makes perfect sense that when Jesus returned to heaven, he left a deposit in us. He left reinforcements, boots on the ground in the form of the Holy Spirit. We are territory under new ownership. And we aren’t alone as we try to navigate our new life in Christ.

Jesus didn’t just plant a flag in our hearts and leave us to our own devices, while he marched off to secure more territory.   He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, instruct, comfort, and teach us. As children of the Most High God, the Holy Spirit is available to help us deal with anything life throws at us. That is how significant we are to God.

Don’t get me wrong, a lack of confidence is a flipping big deal. But it isn’t confidence in ourselves that is needed.

When we truly grasp the identity we have in Christ, we can combat the chatterbox voice of insecurity.

Yes, the enemy will try to convince us we aren’t strong enough, good enough, or smart enough to deal with the obstacles in front of us. The enemy wants us to shrink back in fear that we will fail. And for that matter, our crisis of confidence may be well-founded. Perhaps we really don’t have the skill-set to face our future endeavors. But thankfully, our confidence does not need to come from our time, talents, or treasure. It comes from God at work in our lives.

No worries, we have a deposit, a flag staked in the ground of our heart complete with the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not left to feel secure in our own accomplishments. We are called to rely on our identity as a child of God with the resources of heaven at our disposal.

Chatterbox that.

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