When we were teenagers, our parents presented us with a stern admonition whenever we left the house with friends. “Remember who you are!” they said. On one hand, that seemed like a silly thing to say to us. How likely were we to forget our names? On the other hand, we suspected there were some important implications in that reminder about our identities. We just weren’t too certain what they were. So once, in frustration over the repeated warning to “remember who you are,” one of us blurted out, in that tone of disdain that only a teenager can manage, “and just who am I supposed to be?” And the quiet, thoughtful, parental response came back: “You are our child.”
Well, that made things a little clearer. With that identity, we knew, came expectations. “Remember who you are” meant: remember the values we taught you, the morals, the ethics, how you are to act, to engage with and to care for others. Remember if temptations come to draw you away into dangerous patterns and places, you are our child.
Surprisingly enough, as it turned out, our parents apparently had far greater insight into the temptations we were going to face than we did. And they knew how difficult resisting those temptations would be, because resisting temptation has always been hard.
Temptations are as old as time and have been recorded in some of the earliest of human writings. In fact, we don’t get too far into the book of Genesis before running into the epitome of tempters, that crafty snake in the Garden of Eden. Imagine his intriguing slithers and hisses catching Eve’s attention. Then, when she’s all ears, with great cunning the snake discovers how to undermine the resolve of the impressionable Eve. She readily eats the forbidden fruit of the garden and easily convinces her husband, Adam, to do likewise.
Clearly, Adam and Eve’s desires to fulfill their own fleeting desires for good things clouded their better judgment, and they failed to remember who they were. They were God’s children, but they forgot. They forgot all that was implied in holding an identity as God’s child. And the results of forgetting their identity were serious.
It seems that the world’s problems, our nation’s problems and our personal problems are always tempting us to forget that we, too, are children of God. Maybe some of the toxic climate of anger, fear, suspicion, reproach and cynicism we now endure would dissipate if we ignored the hissing lure that sounds around us every day.