Worth, Humility, and Pride (Where we’ve got it all wrong)

I was in church on Sunday and during worship a familiar song came up. It is called “Canons” by Phil Wickham and I’ve sung it many times before. This particular Sunday, however, I found myself caught off guard by the chorus.

Singing, You are holy, great and mighty
The moon and the stars declare who You are
I’m so unworthy, but still You love me
Forever my heart will sing of how great You are

It doesn’t seem too bad, right? I was singing along, contemplating each of the lines until I got to the third one:

I’m so unworthy, but still You love me

I’ve sung this line so many times, I’ve put my heart and soul into it, but on Sunday I realized something: This line is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it perpetuates a sense of worthlessness amongst Christians that I’m beginning to realize shouldn’t exist. Phil Wickham’s song isn’t the only one out there that encourages Christians to sing about how unworthy they are. It is a concept that isn’t restricted to singers, either. There are preachers, pastors, and teachers out there who all agree with a single concept: Christians have no worth in the eyes of God.

Do you realize what that says about God?

If we are so unworthy, why does God love us? He is an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being that could crush us like ants if he wanted to (and has a history of, if you take a gander at the Old Testament). If we are nothing but worthless, wretched creatures, then why would God desire a relationship with us? He probably wouldn’t.

Sin is an issue, I do not deny that, but why do we so often tie “sin” and “worth” together? Obviously God doesn’t. Show me where in the Bible is says, “and because humans sinned they became worthless,” and I will write a follow-up about how wrong my observations are. I don’t think that is going to happen, though.

If sin made us worthless (which is the same word as unworthy, but when we use the word unworthy we pretty it up and make it sound like we’re not referring to ourselves as worthless), why would God continue to pursue us? If human beings did not have inherent worth (instilled there by their creator), why would the creator of the universe send Jesus to earth to die a miserable death? That seems to be an unnecessary step to take to try and redeem a worthless creation.

From God’s actions I think one thing can be surmised: He believes his human creation to be worthy of love and pursuit. There is something inside of us that He tries to reach and show us.

Yet we continue to call ourselves worthless and tremble at the feet of God begging Him not to stomp us out because we’re such wretched, horrible creatures that deserve nothing but death, torment, misery, and pain. We put on this veil of false humility where we claim we’re worthless so that we will appear to be humble, because it seems prideful to believe we have worth. I had a friend at my old church who once told me this: Humility isn’t about degrading yourself, it is about realizing it isn’t about you and there is more to the world than yourself.

Humility is being willing to accept and pursue what God thinks of me, even if I’m not willing to believe those things about myself quite yet. Honestly? Degrading myself and believing I am worthless in the eyes of God is easy. Opening myself up to the fact that God believes I am worthy and taking His opinion (someone else’s opinion) as my own conclusion, on the other hand, is a lot harder because it means I’m no longer in control of how I think about myself.

Suddenly there is more to my world than my own opinion of myself, and that just doesn’t fly.

That’s pride, and it is one hell of a beast to battle.

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Brave

This isn’t so much a blog post as it is me sharing a song I’ve recently come across. It is called “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and you can listen to it here:

I find the lyrics of this song to be particularly profound. The premise is this: We’ve all been through crappy things, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have a choice to change. Even when we’ve been beaten down by others, through words or through actual physical violence, we can choose to rise above it and carry on. We don’t have to cower in fear of our pasts or be the people others have tried to make us. Instead we can choose to be brave.

You can be amazing

You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug

You can be the outcast

Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love

Or you can start speaking up

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do

When they settle ‘neath your skin

Kept on the inside and no sunlight

Sometimes a shadow wins

But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say

And let the words fall out

Honestly I wanna see you be brave 

We can be the voice that other people need to hear. We, the everyday average nobodies who are just trying to make it, can make a difference when we choose to do so. When we allow ourselves to toss aside the fear of embarrassment or of breaking social norms, the world becomes a much more hopeful place.

When I started running last summer I had a lot of reservations. The voices in my head told me that I was too fat, I would look ridiculous, I would never be able to run, everyone who was at the park with me would think badly of me, and so many other things. I was worried about what the world would think and in a moment of raw courage, I decided to put on a pair of sweatpants, pull a sweatshirt over my head, and run.

I didn’t make it far, but that emboldened me. It helped me feel braver, all because I was willing to step out and take a chance. I did what I wanted to do even though it opened me up to a lot of criticism…and in the end it was one of the best choices I could have made.

Perhaps that is a trivial example, but I think it fits. I had to overcome a sense of discouragement toward where I was in order to realize that I can improve my circumstances and, in the long run, encourage other people to do the same. It was not an easy process and I don’t think being brave ever will be. In the end, though, it is worth it every time. 

The Ruby Project Revelation

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Sometimes it is too hard to try and write a polished, pretty blog entry.

So I’ll just wing it. Tonight I went to a showcase put on by a non-profit organization called The Ruby Project. In short, they help young women who have been through abuse, trauma, or other painful things in life get back on their feet. They help these young women realize that they have worth and that they can rise above their circumstances. This showcase ended their weekend retreat and let me just say this: The things The Ruby Project ladies are doing for these girls are amazing.

Tonight I sat in the audience with tears in my eyes as these young girls shared their stories through poetry, dance, and storytelling. Girls who have been through so much for people so young got up and shared stories of being sold into sex trafficking (yup, that happens in the United States boys and girls), of getting into drugs, of being abused by family members or people related to the family. These girls were brave, beautiful, and in love with Jesus. I admire them for their courage and for their willingness to fight against all odds to live a better life.

The thing that really stuck out to me, however, was this: This is what the church is.

My friends, the Church isn’t supposed to be a building you go to on Sunday morning and don’t think about the rest of the week. Church isn’t just a weekly thing. Church isn’t just a place where you learn about the Bible. The Church isn’t supposed to be static and unmoving. The Church is a living thing. It is dynamic. It should penetrate every part of our lives. Why? Because it is the only thing worth living for.

To be the Church is to be a part of the body of Christ. It isn’t to be a member of a ton of people who make an agreement to meet every Sunday. It is to be a living, breathing, dynamic, loving force in the world. The Church is supposed to love each other and love others. We’re supposed to be out doing things and living out the Word.

Yet I find myself sitting, fretting about the future, fretting about grad school or what I’m going to do once I graduate. I get so caught up in what I have to do to get to a place where I can be someone significant, where I can be good enough to really do some good work for the Lord…that I miss out on a beautiful truth:

I have already been called and equipped to do what I need to do. I just need to do it.

Instead of thinking, “once I get a graduate degree I can really start helping people,” or “once I get to a place where I know enough of the Bible and can earn my place in God’s church I can do great things,” I need to accept the fact that I have been called even in my brokenness. Did those girls at the Ruby Project Showcase have it all together? Were they perfect? No. Yet they put their hearts out there, they put their pride on the line, and they let the love of God shine through them.

Where I am deficient, God is sufficient. The more I’m willing to own up to the fact that I have got nothing, the more God gives me. The more I give up and surrender to Him, the more I’m able to love because it isn’t my love coming out…it is God’s.

 

If you would like you support The Ruby Project, please check out their donation page. Your donation will help them with future projects, including next year’s showcase.