Simba had grown up, successfully pushing down his past into the depths of his subconscious and living a care-free life with his life motto being Hakuna Matata. (what’s a motto? Nothing! What’s a motto with you? *laughter*).
His past came roaring into his current lifestyle thanks to the Baboon who claimed to not only know who Simba’s father was, but who Simba is.
“You Mufasa’s boy.”
And that piece of information led to one of the most powerful scenes from The Lion King:
Through Rafiki’s messing with Simba’s status quo, Simba received a powerful reminder of — not just his past — but who he is. (How is Rafiki not a prophet?)
You have forgotten who you are so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.
Remember who you are.
The call to “remember” is found throughout the Bible — particularly to the Israelites who’ve escaped the chains of Egypt.
If any of your people — Hebrew men or women — sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. (Deut. 15:12–15)
Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. (Deut. 24:17-18)
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deut. 5:15)
Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name — you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees. (Deut 16:10–12)
We are called to remember simply because it’s really easy for us humans to forget. God commanded the Israelites to remember the days where they were slaves in Egypt so that they won’t become like the Egyptians.
But how we quickly forget…
For instance, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire instead of seeking peace and reconciliation, we sought retribution. We became oppressors and persecutors, forgetting that we were oppressed and persecuted. No mercy. No grace. Simply vengeance and retribution. Because that’s what Jesus would’ve wanted…
We often forget about our lives (and struggles) before Christ and find it difficult to muster up compassion for those who struggle with the very things that we may have overcome.
A pastor tells a story about how a man stumbled into his church coming off a high. The church’s doors are open to anyone and everyone and on Sunday mornings you do not know who you might bump into. The man found Christ and started putting his life back together. After getting his life back on track, the man complained to the pastor, “Why do you keep allowing these druggies into our church? It’s not helping our cause.”
“We’re offering the same grace that we offered you,” the pastor gently replied.
Why do we find it difficult to offer compassion/love/grace especially to people who struggle with things that we’ve overcome?
The call to remember is not a call to dwell on our past; to live in the past; to be stuck in our “glory days.” Rather, it’s a call to not forget who we are, where we came from; it’s a call to not forget our struggles so that we may be a source of grace and hope and love to others — particularly those whose struggles we may be familiar with.
Part of the prophetic voice is a reminder to remember, because:
If we do not know where we came from or where we are in a story, it is difficult for us to grasp the meaning and purpose of our own lives.
As a preacher, sometimes we have to gently (or blatantly) remind our churches who we are so that we remember what our purpose is. How many of our churches have replaced their mission (to serve their community) with maintenance (of just their property)? How many of us have confused replaced our purpose to serve with the desire to simply survive?
How many of our churches have lost our way because we have forgotten our first love?
We forget and so we may have steered from the path that we are meant to be on and we find ourselves in a similar situation that the church of Ephesus found themselves:
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Every so often, in order to move forward we have to go backwards — to square one — so that we can realign ourselves to our purpose; so that we can remember who we are.
But there’s another aspect of remembering — one that Mufasa powerfully lays out:
You are more than what you have become.
Remembering who we are is being reminded of our imago Dei — that we are created in the image of God. Or as Pastor Rob Fuquy writes: that we are not just made from God but made out of God.
The (personal) call to remember is a call to look in the mirror and not see your flaws; your shortcomings; your scars; your failures; your mistakes; your perception of self-worthlessness — but to see yourself as God sees you: Daughter. Son. Child. Beloved.
Regardless of where or how you find yourself in this season of life, in the words of a Lion in the sky that sounds like Darth Vader — you are more than what you have become.
In remembering that you are a child of God; in remembering that you are created in the image of God; in remembering that you are made out of God — we are also reminded to look for the image of God in our neighbors and our enemies — that they too are made out of God.
Remember, then, who you are.