The staff will be posting reflections as we fast every Friday throughout the Lenten season. See last week's post here.  This week, Jelani Walker continues our series by sharing what it looks like for his identity to be anchored in the Gospel.


I love soccer. Growing up it was the main thing that brought joy to my heart. It was the thing that I looked forward to every Saturday- playing for the Franklin Township Rec League. I remember as a kid having my shin guards, shoes, these small shorts (because that’s what soccer players wore back then), and the long socks I put on to cover my shin guards. I remember what it felt like to go out on Saturday mornings to play this game I loved. I remember wanting so much to score goals and to be as good as some of the other players. But something else that I noticed at a young age was that I was one of only a few black kids who played the sport. Even though there wasn’t any mistreatment of me at the time, it was something I knew.


As I continued this journey as a young man who loved soccer, I began to look for images of players who looked like me. I shortly found out that there weren’t a whole lot. While my friends had many players that they looked up to that shared their skin color, it seemed as if my choices were few and far between. Not that I didn’t have anyone to look up to, but most of these players seemed to be from different places and didn’t come from the background I came from. This was difficult for me to deal with. As a kid, I never questioned who I was. I knew I was a black child, but what was hard for me was figuring out how to identify with this thing that I loved when it didn’t seem to identify with me.


Romans 8: 1-4 reads:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


This passage speaks to the freedom that we have in Christ. That freedom has come from the God who sent "his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin”. This truth, this Gospel, spoke to me as a believer. I know that someone paid the price for me, and drew me towards himself in ways I could not explain. This truth also gave me a sense of freedom-  a freedom to be the person that I was. It gave me a freedom in the fact that I didn’t need to look for something or someone to identify with. I found my place- a freedom to identify with something that I loved, that identified with me.


This is how the Gospel continues to speak to me today. It continues to allow me the freedom to be the black kid who plays soccer, and also the black kid who loves the Lord. As this Lenten season continues and as you ponder the things of the Lord through the Scriptures, I challenge you to ask yourself:

- Where are the places where God is challenging you to accept the truth of His word?

- Many times, we condemn what the Lord has blessed. What are the things that the Lord is challenging you to see the way He sees?