The Paradox of Worthiness
By Beth Demme
Remember the movie Wayne’s World? Or maybe you remember it as a skit on SNL? Mike Myers and Dana Carvey play Wayne and Garth. Whenever Wayne and Garth meet someone famous or someone they idolize, the bow repeatedly and say, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
That’s how we feel before God, isn’t it? Unworthy? To me, this is a great paradox of the Christian faith. We aren’t worthy, except that God says we are.
The word “sin” means to miss the mark. We each know how we miss that mark. Even the Apostle Paul knew it. He says in Romans, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. … For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:15, 18-19 (emphasis added))
One way I personally miss the mark is that I tend to be more than a wee bit judgmental about other Christians. I actually find it easier to accept people of other faiths than to accept certain Christians, and Christian denominations, who – in my not-so-humble opinion – squeeze God into a box and, in the process, squeeze the love right out of the good news of Jesus Christ.
I judge them, all the while pridefully patting myself on the back for my own “right” views. In other words, I fret over the speck in my brother’s eye, while ignoring the log coming out of my own. (Matthew 7:3)
I miss the mark by failing to show love and by acting out of pride.
Paul uses forceful language for this. He says, “nothing good dwells within me.”
In other words, I’m not worthy of God’s grace. Like Wayne and Garth, I say, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”
And yet, God says I am worthy.
Again, the Apostle Paul explains, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
I think Dr. Steve Harper (author, Methodist pastor, and retired seminary professor) explains it best:
Redemption only makes sense if there is prior value. If something is worthless, it can be thrown away and replaced. But if it has prior value, it must be found and restored. Redemption means that people have prior value (eternal value), and God’s love will not permit anyone to be discarded.
In other words, we have value because God says we do. As Christians, we understand the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, but I think we sometimes forget that we have been deemed worthy of redemption. We aren’t worthless, such that we can be thrown away or replaced. We are so very worthy in God’s eyes that God will do whatever it takes to bring us back into a relationship.
We aren’t worthy, except God says we are.
Do you find this to be a paradox of the Christian faith? Do you feel worthy? How does it make you feel to know that you have prior value? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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