My name is Sarah. That means I grew up loving the trivia that in Hebrew my names means "princess." As a little girl, I loved how special it made me feel, how set apart it made me seem (never mind the fact that Sarah is one of the most common names for girls in the US). In any case, I loved to be considered a princess. Fetch me some soda! Tie my shoes! Buy me that pretty dress! Princess mentality is dainty and brutal. Unassuming and demanding. Pretty, but dangerous. There's this insatiable need we seem to have to be seen, really seen. To be known. To be unique. We feast our hearts and eyes on Disney princesses from an incredibly young age, and pine after that life. We're told to look for our own personal knight in shining armor. We raise up little girls, as a culture, who long to be royalty. We tell them, they're worth castles, we tell them they're worth wars, we tell them love is their only future option. And when we do that, we sell them a lie. The problem becomes even more dire when this mentality crosses over from secular to sacred, from the school halls to the church pews. Are we raising up Christian women to tout their identity as a daughter of the King as their only moniker? Are we telling ourselves that our prime identity lies within our womanliness? In Christ, we are adopted daughters of God who is our King. But that doesn't make us a princess. It isn't that we shouldn't be aware of our position given to us through the sacrifice of Christ. But it is imperative that we have a correct understanding of what that means. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are inheritors of God's Kingdom. In Romans 8 Paul describes us as having received the Spirit of adoption, "by Whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father!'" The Holy Spirit within us is a testimony to the fact that we are God's children–that means we are heirs. As inheritors, we receive the future hope of our eternal salvation. We receive a stake in the New Heavens and New Earth. We receive a commission to work and subdue in eternal ways. This isn't some superficial bounty; we are not inheritors to a trunk full of gold and silver. We're not heirs to a kingdom tied to this earth. We're co-heirs alongside Christ. We look ahead and forward to our inheritance. We look up and over this horizon to a new place where we will dwell with God as His people, working in ways we have only but tasted on this earth. To only think of our inheritance as eternity with God with streets of gold is a bit incomplete and farsighted. We have an inheritance in this life, too, and it isn't nearly as glamorous. A prelude to our permanent hope is temporary suffering. In Peter's first epistle, he speaks at length about our inheritance in Christ and our sufferings along with Christ. He tells us that it is to suffering that we "have been called, because Christ also suffered for
, leaving us an example. So that might follow in His steps." And further he tells us to delight in sufferings because "as share in Christ's sufferings. . . may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed." We suffer with Christ now, following in His footsteps of toil, so that we may also rejoice in our future, permanent inheritance. We don't get to choose which inheritance we savor. In Christ, we drink from two cups-- both joy and of sorrow. We are heirs, but some of our inheritance is gritty, difficult, and painful.
Our identity in Christ doesn't stop at being co-heirs and God's children, though. It's even fuller and richer than that. When I think of a princess, I don't typically picture a girl out in the fields, baling hay, sowing seeds, and putting her hands to the plow. I don't imagine her washing feet as Jesus did. I don't assume that she will harvest at the end of summer or plant in early spring. My mind goes to the opposite of that–I picture her demanding that others put their hands to the plow. I imagine her feet being washed. I assume she eats the firstfruits of harvest. She partakes but does not give. She demands but does not serve.
In 1 Corinthians 3:9, Paul speaks about the work and labor he and Apollos have done–but he makes a caveat. God is the grower. God takes the work that we surrender and makes it bear fruit. In this way he says, "for we are God's coworkers. You are God's field, God's building." We labor with Christ. Our stature as adopted daughters in God's household doesn't ensure that we will never work a day in our lives. No, it ensures that we will work every day of our lives, building up God's Kingdom in the ways that He sets before us. Our identity as daughters doesn't take away chores from our list, it adds chores to our list. Chores that are eternally significant.
Our labors look like sharing the Gospel–maybe with your children, maybe with your parents, maybe friends, coworkers, or the lost in the jungles of the Amazon. But our primary labor in the life in tending to God's Kingdom in the places He has put us in. We labor to create and sustain Christian community within our local churches. We labor to care for the sick, oppressed, orphaned, widowed, and distressed among us. We labor to make God, His holiness, and His hope known. This isn't an easy task, but it is a necessary one.
Being a Christian isn't a fulfillment of some picaresque dream little girls have to one day become royal. Yes, rest in the fact that You are God Almighty's daughter, but don't be fooled into thinking this position leads to a princess lifestyle. It leads to a rewarding, fully-known, fully-loved life but that life is partnered with the death of ourselves. The death of our sin, our comfort, and our preferences. We are heirs and laborers and means there's hard work, good work, set before us now.