Advent Devotional

Day 23

Advent Ornament on Tree
By Erik Segalini | December 23

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

In this very familiar song, Rudolph learns who he is and who he was made to be. Ten years ago, during a writing assignment for Worldwide Challenge magazine, I picked up a powerful way to daily remind myself of my identity.

I was writing about a staff member with the high-school ministry of Cru. During one of many interviews, I noticed a small chain peeking out from under Vince’s shirt collar. I wondered whether I should ask about the necklace – most men don’t wear jewelry. It might be significant to the story, or it could just be an embarrassing and intrusive question about nothing at all. I decided to ask.

Vince pulled out a red dog tag on the end of a beaded chain. In the military, he explained, soldiers wear these tags so that if their body is burned beyond recognition, someone can accurately identify them. The tag bears important facts about the person's identity.

“Were you in the armed forces?” I asked.

No, he answered.

“So what's up? And why is your dog tag blank?” I asked, excited about my discovery.

Vince continued. His dog tag was both blank and red. He wore it to remind him of his true identity: that he is the property of Jesus Christ, purchased by the Savior’s blood shed on the Cross. Vince wanted a daily reminder that Jesus shed that blood for him. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Vince wanted to remember every day that his real identity was a child of God, made possible because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Vince also explained that his dog tag reminded him that he was in a war or, as the book of Ephesians describes it, “a spiritual battle.” It helped him remember that he serves a bigger cause than himself.

In 2005, I was explaining “who we are in Christ” to the Bible study I led at our church, and I remembered Vince’s necklace. A few days later, I ordered one online. I inscribed 1 Corinthians 6:20 to help me remember the point – in a culture obsessed with self-identity, my real identity is in Jesus. Sure, He has given me skills and gifts, and I am unique from everyone else. He made me that way. But once I find my identity in belonging to Jesus, I can enjoy those gifts, understand their purpose and appreciate my real value. Jesus paid a ransom for me on that Cross.

Everyday, when I put my dog tag around my neck, I remember that I belong to Jesus, that He bought me at a great price. I am forgiven. And I am in His Service.

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