An Affirmation for God’s Children


“I am a child of God.” The first words of this affirmation have their origin in a former minister’s baptism ritual. When Nibs Stroupe baptized an infant at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, he (like many pastors) would introduce the baby to the congregation by walking through the sanctuary. He might say “This girl will be told that she is valuable when she is attractive to men;” or “This boy will be told that he needs to dominate others in order to feel good about himself;” or “This is a middle class child who will be told that he/she is entitled above others,” and so on. He would conclude: “Our job as the church is to remind her/him of her/his true identity: a child of God.” It was a powerful ritual.

Like any good ritual, this one has variations that reinforce an underlying theme. The world is full of identities that are pre-made for us to occupy, but our status as God’s children is a foundational spiritual birthright. Before we were anything else, before we became linked to our job success or failure, our gender, or our race, we were the recipient of God’s radical grace. We didn’t do anything to deserve being a child of God; no child gets to choose her/his family of birth. And so that unearned identity is unshakable; nothing can separate us from God’s love (just as nothing can truly break the link between parent and child). We need a ritual reminder of that central identity.

We also need to recommit ourselves to the activity of following Christ. As I have noted in the previous blog entry, following Christ is less about what we believe and more about what we do.

And so I offer this affirmation of identity and activity as an alternative to traditional creeds of Christian belief. You may not do all of these things this affirmation says; you may not yet be the person these words describe. But these aspirational words are my gift to you, a reminder of the habits of mind and body that lead us to understand who we truly are: a child of God.

3 thoughts on “An Affirmation for God’s Children

  1. Love it! That I would gladly say loud and clear and maybe even memorize! 😉

    I love you so. Maybe a prayer we can say together?


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m unclear about who God is and God’s distinct role on RH. In a general Christian sense, but this Politics and Religion blog.

    You’re clear about what Christianity is and isn’t. It’s not a label, not limited to prayer life or religious services. It’s not belief. It’s not passive. A Christian follows Christ’s footsteps, lives Christ’s words, lives Christ’s love. (I think of love as a verb, too.)

    But I don’t understand Who you’re talking about when you talk about God. I don’t know why God’s affirmation is needed, why God affirms MY being? I don’t know why the still-twisted gift is a reminder of my “birthright as a child of God.” Why doesn’t the sentence end with “birthright”? Do I have less value, am I less loved or beloved without God?

    I ask these as a flailing-but-trying follower of Christ. I rely on belief. (My thing about belief is that it can’t STOP at belief.) I keep holy water beside my bed. Where I rec’d it is my reminder that God is present to me even in darkness. Does holy water expire? I ask myself even as I cross myself with it. I am hurt and angry, often desolate. But I believe… something. Enough to persist.

    Raised in the Baptist church, the first Bible verse emblazoned in my mind is John 3:16. KSV, NIV, NRSV – they all use “believe.”

    Who is God?

    This Affirmation/Declaration is a separate thing to address.


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