Abide in me as I in you.
Today Jesus asks you — all of you all at once — to abide in him. It’s tempting to think this talk of abiding means you to surrender who you are in order to be in Jesus. But, finishing the thought, Jesus asks you to abide in him as he abides in you, as if his life is also made known in your life, in your very own particular identity!
You have to admit, identity is important to us, something we want to hold onto and something headlines often suggest we’re in danger of losing. You hear a lot these days about securing your identity so that no one can hack into your life uninvited. Very often, in the hope of protecting your identity online, various accounts will ask security questions with answers ostensibly known only to you.
What was the model of your first car? What is your favorite city? What’s your dream job?
I answer Chevy, Paris, Priest.
But don’t tell anyone.
Long before I drove the old Chevrolet that belonged to my dad, I already had an ID card because he was in the Army. My military ID listed my full name, my gender and race, my height, weight, and date of birth, along with a picture to confirm it. Today I have other cards that identify me. Likely you do, too. I suppose I could hold all the cards that bear your name in one hand and imagine I know something about you. But I also suppose there would be so much more to know about you: a grace-filled mystery.
What I remember about my first ID card was how afraid I was to lose it. My parents often asked if I still had it. I also remember occasions when I needed it to prove who I was. I always felt a little worried when I had to show it. What if it failed me? What if I didn’t belong where I was heading?
I still feel nervous whenever I have to show proof of my identity, whether by passport or driver’s license or social security number. Even my Kroger card makes me wonder if I have the proper ID.
Today in the Acts of the Apostles, an angel of the Lord sends an evangelist named Philip out onto a wilderness road to share the good news of the Risen Lord. And on the same road we meet a man identified as an Ethiopian eunuch. The story has it he’s on his way home following a trip he’d taken to worship God in the Temple of Jerusalem. In his own land, he’s a court official, the keeper of a queen’s entire treasury travelling in his very own chariot.
Though nameless, there’s an awful lot of data about him offered up in the story. His identity ought to be easy to discern, and yet the truth is biblical scholars have argued for centuries about who he really is. Despite ready answers to securing his identity: Chariot, Ethiopia, Eunuch, scholars have never quite hacked this man’s identity. Read more