Our character and identity is really about hundreds of small decisions we make every day as to who we will follow. Believe it or not, whoever has authority over you has a lot to do with your identity. Take the challenge to find out who that is for you.
Gerry Bertier stood awkwardly by the side of the bus; his friend and side-kick felt the same uneasiness. Around them stood a crowd of onlookers, curious to know the words being whispered to them by the team’s new head coach, Herman Boone. The question, “Who’s your daddy?” echoed in Gerry’s head like a lone yodeler’s call on a high Austrian mountaintop. In that instant, Gerry knew instinctively that he had fallen prey to his own arrogance. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to admit to the obvious answer to his coach’s ringing question. So he stood still, head down, kicking himself for even getting into this humiliating conversation and hoping against hope that he could vanish as vapor. “Who’s your daddy, Gerry? Who’s your daddy?”
As a military teen, you are well aware of the military’s respect for the chain of command. Coach Boone taught his all-American, and everyone else listening, a poignant lesson that day. It was a lesson on authority. Whose dad, or instruction, was Gerry going to follow? While you will likely not find yourself in the same situation as Gerry did, you will have to answer a similar question: Whose authority are you going to obey? “What does authority have to do with identity?” you ask.
Believe it or not, authority has everything to do with identity. The reason is because we image that which we obey. And who you obey has everything to do with eternity. For that reason, in this study we will put our hearts on the surgeon’s operating table to see who our real “daddy” is.
POW! Like a powerhouse kick in the face, Saul (who was later known as Paul) was slammed to the ground. He had been on his way to Damascus, but now he lay dazed and confused in the dust struggling to make sense of the bright light enveloping him. Then, out of nowhere, a voice broke through the mental haze. Saul, or Paul, likely had the same confused look of shame Gerry had when he brazenly went toe-to-toe with Coach Boone. It was a short exchange for sure, but it was a moment that forever changed the young Pharisees’ life. In fact, years later while speaking to an angry crowd in Jerusalem, he reflected back to this moment when his identity underwent a radical transformation. He went from obeying one daddy to a whole new daddy! And just like Gerry, he needed to make a serious decision as to which daddy he was going to follow. Let’s take a look at the scene as Luke describes the events in Acts 21. As you read, pay close attention to who Paul obeyed at the beginning of this testimony and who he obeyed at the end of the story.
Scripture: Acts 21:37–22:22
- Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to choose between doing the right thing or going along with the crowd? Whose voice did you end up listening to? What were some of the challenges you had to face in making that decision?
- When you are faced with a moral dilemma, who do you usually go to for advice. Are they a trustworthy counselor? How much does this person’s opinion of you matter?
- In the end, each of us has one of two daddies: God, the father of all that is good and true, or Satan, the father of all that is vile and false. As best as you can discern, who is your ultimate daddy? What evidence can you point to in your life to support, or validate, your decision?
- Do you believe it is possible to know for sure who your real daddy is? If so, how? If not, why not?
- Why do you think following God is so hard and Satan so easy? How does faith factor into a journey with God? On a scale of 1–10, how strong would you say your faith is right now?
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Lord, sometimes it can be hard for me to know if you or your arch-enemy is my daddy. I know that I can only serve one daddy. I also know that you, as any good father, have nothing but the best interest of your children in mind. And, yet, obeying you can be so hard. Please help to know where I stand with you. Put in my heart a desire to do the right thing, even if it is hard and costs me popularity points with my friends. Thank you for a community of people (your church) who will help me to do that! Amen.