You can’t take that away from me.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord..  Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

There is a lyric from the old George Gershwin love song, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” (circa 1937) that says “the way your change my life, no, no they can’t take that away from me.”  The title of the song, coupled with that phrase, convey an encouraging spiritual truth.  Love relationships are packed with power to change our lives.  Just ask anyone who has walked down the aisle.  And love, truly unconditional love, is transformative at a level that goes deeper than simply changing externals.  That kind of love has the potential to establish our very identity and define who we are at the core of our being.

God’s love, expressed through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, is the quintessential, gold standard of transforming love.  He chose us while we were yet sinners and separated from Him and wooed us as a spiritual bride for His Son that we might become members of His eternal family.  His love gives us a new identity as His sons and daughters, something no one or no thing can ever take away from us.  That is the truth in which Paul is reveling in the verses of Romans 8:38-39.  No matter what fortune, fate or foe may confront us, it will not “be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we realize that our identity is based on the high value God places upon us, independent from our accomplishments or lack thereof, and anyone else’s view of us, it is a game changer.  God’s love literally changes the DNA of our lives.  We take our place in a royal genealogy and thereby become heirs of an incorruptible inheritance.  That gives us confidence in the face of fear and becomes an anchor for our soul in times of trouble.

That fact was the secret for David, the great king and psalmist, in being able to rise above adversity.  Again and again we see him encouraging and strengthening himself in the Lord his God.  (1 Samuel 30:6)  He did it primarily by confessing that his identity was rooted in God’s faithfulness and love toward him.  In so doing he refused to let his own frailty and failures, or his enemy’s accusations, define him.  He knew he was God’s beloved son no matter what, and no one or nothing could take that away from him. 

The simple truth is – identity is a choice.  The idea of choosing an identity they can’t take away from me is humorously illustrated by the story David Robertson, conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  He half jokingly shares that his choice in becoming a conductor was a result of a burglary in his home when he was a child.  At the time he was studying the French horn.  Unfortunately a beloved trumpet was one of the things stolen.  He says it was then that he made the decision to become a conductor rather than a musician.  ”I realized that if you didn’t have one instrument, no one could take it away from you.”

Our identity in God, like the conductor’s, can be secure because we choose an identity independent of the presence or lack thereof of outside influences.   It stands on its own based more on who we than what we do.  It is an identity that no one can take away from us. 

Which identity have you chosen?  One that can be affected by thieves, or one that no one can take away from you? 

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