by Jamie Barrett
Discerning Our Value
Each of us want to be someone of worth. We look for praise in some area of our lives in which we believe we can shine. I think about the Marvel movies and the quest for significance and worth. Each of the characters are pursuing what they believe will matter the most in the end. A series of decisions that lead to the best possible outcomes. I particularly think of Thor. His very ability to wield Mjölnir is based on whether he is worthy. Found unworthy, he forfeits the chance to carry this magnificent war mallet. There comes a point in the series that the demigod is stripped of his armor, sent to earth, and found unfit to take up his hammer. Now he is vulnerable, apparently weak. I imagine each of us experience something like this. When our ultimate worth is found in anything outside of our Maker and centered on our performance, our value varies. Marvel depicts this Norse superhero finding his ultimate worth in his own willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others. You see, the Bible says that in Christ we have infinite value as royal sons and daughters of the King because of His sacrifice for us. He is the main actor in this story. We have been bought by the blood of Jesus and ransomed from the wrath of the Father. This is the ultimate template to discern our true worth and discover an enduring hope. This is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus that decimates any false gospel that aims to compete. The truth of the matter is that all false gospels pale in comparison. Only the blinding brilliance of the biblical gospel points to unlimited worth found in Christ alone.
As creatures made in the image of God, we look like Him in remarkable ways. Part of the lie of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was that Adam and Eve were not designed to be like God from their inception. They believed there was something they had to do to become like Him, as the lie suggested. Their eminent worth as image bearers was unrecognized, dismissed. Their focus moved from what God had already done in fashioning them in His likeness to what they must do to get what they wanted. Their desire to be like God was a good desire, something God had already done. Their good desire shifted to a sinful craving when they believed they could get what God already gave them, without God’s involvement, and against His command. Our first parents diminished the image of God in them through the fall, marring it significantly for all who would come after. It is only union with Christ that takes the image of God tainted and twisted by the fall and perfectly restores it in us once again.
Identity and Calling
We each live our lives with a mix of conscious and unconscious realizations of who we are. This distinctive identity is what propels us in making every decision of life. Our resolutions, thoughts, and affections of our heart is what drives our words and actions. To say it another way, what we believe about our identity directly affects how we view our calling. Providing a negative perspective, if we believe we are worthless, we will not pursue a spouse who is “out of our league”. If we really believe we are incompetent, we will refuse to interview for a job outside of our training or experience. We will play it safe. If we believe we are unintelligent, further training or robust preparation is out of the question. Why waste the time, effort, or money? From a positive perspective, if we believe we are able to complete a building project we have never attempted, we will secure the plans, gather the materials, and start the build. If we believe we have infinite value in Christ, we will refuse to settle for the temporary pleasures of sin and will choose obedience. If we believe that God has infinite affection and love for us, we will want to please Him and seek His glory when things are hard or come easy. What we believe about our identity directly affects our destiny.
A Continual Search
There is a pursuit of worth for each of us. We either regularly forget or don’t know that we have infinite worth when we belong to Christ. Every time a drug addict turns to her substances, she is looking for meaning and worth that cannot fulfill. When she comes off her high, the subject of worth and worthlessness comes cascading in like an avalanche. The child looking for praise from his father is looking for something deeper. Now an adult making over six figures with a beautiful family and home, he continues his relentless search. His successes in life pales compared to pursuing the praise of his dad. Yet the dad’s praise is not what he is ultimately looking for. Though important, we each need something deeper than our parents’ approval. The woman at the well in John 4 was looking for worth in relationships. She never found it because she was focused on the wrong thing. Though good, relationships can never fulfill us in the end. Jesus clarified that her deeper thirst was for Him. Yet she never realized it until that moment. I imagine that woman was tempted, like each of us, to look for her worth outside of Christ after that momentous occasion. As Christians, we forget our identity and our calling far too often. We continually endure cases of spiritual amnesia. We live as practical atheists forgetting that God even exists. We overlook the deep truths of our legacy. Justification by faith becomes, to put it mildly, tedious. We persist in our pursuit for worth outside the infinite value we already have as people united to Christ.
The Bible portrays the church as the people who have a special identity. We forget we are royal heirs of Christ, sons and daughters of the Most High King. Therefore, we regularly gather to be reminded of these deep truths. We gather not just in a particular building on a particular day. We gather in homes, parks, neighborhoods, restaurants, coffee shops, at enjoyable events, helping each other with home projects, and out in nature. We grow uncommon community by seeking each other out between services deepening friendships during the week. We show one another the incredible reality of the gospel in the midst of misunderstanding. We have hard, uncomfortable conversations. We wrestle deeply with what God has done for us in Christ and the person and character of God. We explore ways to bless and serve others. Because Jesus is our peace, we have the freedom to be peacemakers. Our lives have the potential to powerfully demonstrate who we are in Christ. Our marriages showcase the gospel, a living portrayal, by men and women regularly remembering their covenant of companionship. We are reminded of the gospel when we seek out counsel by other godly church members. We read the Bible together, meditating deeply on the word of truth. Our homes are platforms for the gospel when we live out the truths of Scripture, though desperately imperfect. But the flaws highlight what gives us our ultimate value and enduring hope. The shortcomings reveal our thirst and need for Jesus as we are reminded in uncommon community. We already possess unimaginable worth because of what Jesus has done for us. This is a worthy truth to celebrate and remind one another regularly creating uncommon community. Are you worthy? In Christ, the gospel of Jesus says yes you are.