On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises. This week we continue our focus on the Exodus and particularly focus on the Israelites’ struggles in the desert.
After freeing the Israelites from the bondage of slavery, God gives them a new identity: not only are they His people, but they are to be a “priestly” people.
This new identity requires them to obey His commands. Or more accurately, “you obey me completely and keep my covenant.” In return, “you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine.” Ex. 19:05.
God tells the Israelites that their status as a nation will not be defined by political power, by military might or by natural resources. The Israelites will find their identity in their relationship with God: “You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” Ex. 19:6.
A Californian once explained to me how Californians differ from the rest of Americans: whereas most Americans identify themselves by their work—what they do for a living, Californians define themselves by their play—what they do for fun.
Q: “So, what do you do?”
A1: “I’m a lawyer.” OR
A2: “I’m a surfer.”
To me, either approach falls short of true identity. Maybe the question predetermines the answer, but in either answer, identity is based on activity.
What if the question was: “who are you?” This question is not often asked, perhaps because it begs a more intimate response. “Who are you?” probes more deeply than “what do you do?”
I think, however, that most of us answer the second question (“what do I do”) as a way to identify themselves (“who am I.”)
But as a chosen people, the Israelites define themselves first by their relationship with God, their Covenant. They are a holy nation.
If I first identify who I am by my relationship with God, then my actions—what I do—must follow the example of Joshua:
“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.
This Lent I hope to realign my priorities with God’s plan, to seek only His will.