Rooted 2021 Student Devotional: In Christ, Your Standing With God is 100% Secure
Going back to school in a pandemic was tough in 2020; it might even be harder in 2021. Disagreements about vaccines, the threat of catching COVID, the looming possibility of cancellations and shutdowns – and the strife surrounding it all – leave us exhausted and searching for solid ground. The promises of God that we find in Scripture are that solid ground. Over the next two weeks on the Rooted blog we will offer short devotions for you to share* with your teenagers, examining promises from God that our writers find profoundly comforting. In an uncertain world, God says, “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6); may his faithfulness fill us with hope and joy in the months to come.
Now that the school year has begun, we all know the sense of anxiety we felt as we re-entered the world we had a break from for a few months. Over the course of the summer, relationships were bound to shift. Your friends may have lost interest in some things and gained interest in others. People got together, and people broke up. Dynamics in friend groups changed, and honestly, you probably changed a little bit, too.
The question “where is my place?” may be going through your head as you walk back through the front doors of your school. It can feel paralyzing.
However, if you have put your faith in Christ, I have some amazing news for you: your status before God never shifts or changes. This status is not something you can control, alter, or move up the ladder in. You never have to be left wondering how He views you, or where your place is at His table.
Look with me at these beautiful words in Isaiah 1:18-
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall become like wool.”
These verses become even more incredible once you know the context of Isaiah’s message: Isaiah is a prophet chosen by God to give His rebellious people some news. Some of this news is very solemn and scary. Israel has hardened its heart towards God and abandoned Him for their sinful ways. In the whole first part of this chapter, God’s people are told of their serious charges against God: “they have forsaken the Lord” (v.4), they are “laden with iniquity” (v.4), they are “utterly estranged” (v.4) ….well, you get the picture. Israel is in a very, very bad spot.
I wonder what the original hearers felt when they heard verse 18. They were probably surprised by God’s kindness; not expecting to receive these words of sheer grace and mercy after having been told of their deep iniquity. And here is what is so beautiful about this verse: it is only possible because of Jesus and His sacrifice!
This is what God is pointing to as he talks of clearing Israel from their guilty charges. Only through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is God able to be fully just and punish sin, yet take away Israel’s sin without compromising His holiness for a millisecond. His people have blown it big time- yet he still steps in. He shows them grace, and he points them to the Messiah who will be coming to offer the once for all sacrifice to clear them of their unholiness.
This good news for Israel—and to you and I today—is initiated and carried out all by God. Only God can take the crimson stains of our sin and completely wipe them away. We can try to rub our sins away, or cover them up- but only God alone can truly remove the deep stains in our hearts.
Here is the comfort you can draw from this passage as a student in 2021: whether you get an F or an A on a test, whether you make the team or not, whether the popular group invites you to the party or you are left sitting alone at the lunch table, your identity is entirely secure in the most important place imaginable.
Your life is hidden in Christ—and that has absolutely nothing to do with your performance. It has everything to do with His love and grace. You are free to rest in His love.
As Tim Keller often says, “your identity is received, not achieved” (emphasis mine). This is such good news. No performance—either wonderful or terrible—will change God’s favor over your life this school year. Nothing you do can alter the scales of your standing before Him. No matter how deeply you fail or how well you achieve this year- the gospel is your only hope. Jesus is your one identity. This will never change.
No matter what the remainder of your school year turns out to be, you can rest assured that your status before God is the same every single day: you are as white as snow in His eyes. All because of Jesus.