Column: Worthy opposition
We all wonder if we are “worthy.”
That’s easy … we’re not.
But still, consider for a moment the space “worthiness” occupies in Christian teaching.
We encounter “worthiness” in sermons, scripture and hymns. “Are you worthy?” “Worthy is the Lamb.” “Jesus alone is worthy.” We are fascinated by what’s worthy and what’s not.
In this context, “worthy” means living up to God’s standards. It means worthy of being saved into eternal heavenly fellowship with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all the saints. It means worthy of God’s love and grace, and worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Worthy means we’ve attained the perfection with which God created us. Worthy means equal in stature to the absolute truth of God’s Creation. The Bible, authoritatively, is a treatise on what’s worthy and what’s not.
Final Jeopardy answer: “Jesus is; we aren’t.” Question: “What is ‘worthy’?”
Modern culture, having jumped largely outside biblical authority, is addicted to asserting “I’m worth it!” having convinced itself that worth is a human commodity. Fallen man rarely contemplates his worthiness in God’s eyes because he is tricked by the mirage of worldly worthiness in his own eyes.
That’s what Satan did to Adam and Eve. He convinced them they were worthy of God’s knowledge. Turns out God’s knowledge, in the hands of mankind, leads to death (Genesis 3). Satan knew it, and reveled in his trickery. He’s reveled in it ever since.
We have a special problem with all this today because over the last couple hundred years, individual freedom and human worth have been codified into the articles of civil organization (e.g., the U.S. Constitution). For thousands of years prior, any individual life just wasn’t worth that much to society at large. Our culture – ostensibly, anyway – finally has it right that there exists divinely Created, intrinsic worth in each individual. But we have it wrong, thinking that true worth resides anywhere but in God, or that we have worth in any way but through Christ.
Secular man errantly celebrates “self-esteem,” not worthiness. Plenty of popular preaching promotes the narcissistic theology of “God created me to be great!” That ignores biblical truth that God created us to praise Him, not the other way around. Other divisive preaching invokes guilt, digging out Old Testament this-for-that legalism which undercuts simple faith and problematically ignores the grace of Jesus Christ.
Grace isn’t a trade. It’s a gift, not a transaction. Our worthiness isn’t in our work or self-centered illusions; it resides exclusively in the grace, truth and sacrifice of Christ.
And it’s worth an eternity.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) notes that man generally prefers rules because he can judge rules, but not grace. Grace is God’s business.