Where does our value come from? I have seen a couple of posts on facebook today that posit that we have value if we value others.
For myself, I have often felt as though my only worth came from what I did for other people or how much I could “produce.” This has been made more pronounced by the fact that I grew up in a pretty works-oriented church and have always had close friends who were REALLY organized and productive. My mom is the first born of 7 and loves to clean and raise her hand when responsibilities are needing filled at church. Most of my best friends over the years have been efficient, get-er-done kind of women. Since I do not operate that way (I’m very relational but not very productive) I have always felt something lacking within myself….
When I first really became a follower of Jesus at the age of 16, I felt love from God, but I also saw my sin SO much clearer. I spent a few years SO hungry for God but also I felt an almost constant guilt about so many things. I smoked cigarettes, I swore, I lusted, I gossiped, I got angry (like really angry), I felt depressed. Over the next few years, many of those things fell away or faded but as I allowed God to have more of me, I also found new layers of rebellion and brokenness waiting after other layers were pealed away.
What could I do? Others seemed to be much better at this than I was, but when we talked one on one, if I was brave enough to be honest, they would express a similar frustration.
I remember, when I was about 20 I read Ragamuffin Gospel and was totally undone to hear someone say that there was radical grace available to people who were already Christians. Here is what I really thought: Jesus was full of grace for those who don’t know him, who are big ol’ sinners and don’t walk with him, but for people like me, who had grown up in church and should “know better,” there was a lot less grace. After four years of being a Christian (and, since I grew up going to church I had a lifetime of Bible verses in my head) I should have it down. I had no excuse for still sinning.
When I read this book about grace by a man who, even after following Jesus, fell repeatedly back into alcoholism, I suddenly realized that grace was for me, too. Even after FOUR WHOLE YEARS of walking with Jesus.
Because of this idea of “knowing better” many followers of Jesus have learned how to divorce the reality of who they are from how they look to others. They believed the lie that as an “ambassador for Christ,” their job was to look as perfect as Jesus looked, so that people won’t get the wrong idea about God.
But can we just be honest? Is anyone actually perfect? Also, what is more powerful- a God who saves people so that he can whip them into shape fast, or a God who died for sinners because they had no chance without Him? A God who loves screw ups just as they are RIGHT NOW. Even if they “know better.”
And what about now? What about after almost 20 years of knowing Jesus? Beloved, I need that radical grace just as much. Jesus gives me value because He is good. He teaches me how to love other people and even, also, how to love myself. I’m not climbing any ladders of holiness. That is not what following Jesus is about. I am getting to know Jesus more and more every day and letting him love me and love others through me. That’s it.
God already loves us and this is what gives every human value. God, our creator, loves us absolutely. What pure Christianity believes is similar to what that boy prayed at camp last week, “I am a sinner, but I love you and I know you love me.” The book of 1 John talks all about what it actually looks like to love God and that is when we love each other. It is when we recognize him and believe him that we begin to walk with him. It is when we love others that we begin to love Him… but this all happens after His already loving us.
The basis for our value is that which was given us by the one who made us, it is not based on what we do or don’t do.