‘Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ Eph 4.13 NIV.
There are people, many of them, who suffer from poor self-worth. As a child and a youth I lived among farming folk, practical people who were good at manual labour but not particularly apt at literature and ideas. Having my strength in the latter I find I still need to seek acceptance in the Father who made me to be who I am rather than attempting to earn the respect of those from vocations where analysis and self-reflection are not at a premium. This reminds me of the young man who graduated from medicine and remarked to his father, ‘Is that good enough for you Dad?’ This says as much about the Dad as it does about the Son. The fact is that we have a unique identity given to us from the Father of Lights. We need to find our identity in God rather than in seeking the acceptance of those who may not know Him or even know themselves.
When Christ is our life we are have our life in God. We are graced by the person of Jesus, delivered from guilt by His cross and authenticated into our real identity in Jesus. In Jesus you are who you are. In self-effort, self-authentication and self-worth hunting of any kind, we are always less than we are. The more we try the more we become a parody of our true selves and the more we deny our loved one’s the benefits of what could have been a more peaceful and content ‘us.’ There is nothing so tiring as upholding and constructing an identity. But you are who you are in Christ. He is your Sabbath and your peace.
The first lie of self worth by self-effort is that those whose approval we are hoping to gain will appreciate us. Often they will use us, trading off our vulnerability. Those at home who have the most to gain from our presence - will through our absence - lose the most. They lose the most because they lose the sense of self they gain through our presence. They lose because their loved one had been consumed by a lie that has denied the family member their loved one.
The second lie of self-worth hunting is that it wins us self-worth. Not so. Our efforts are never enough. Our labour never satisfies. No matter how we expend ourselves the gnawing need to be appreciated, loved and valued for ourselves does not go away. But it does when Christ is our life and we are positioned in Father’s heart to be marinated in His love. Here the deepest need of our being is satisfied with His love. Our Sabbath rest is our peace and liberation from the need to validate ourselves and our reason for being.
Recently in The Age, someone wrote, ‘The office is an irrational, calcified relic. It's a lasting symbol of the bygone Protestant ethic that our lives must be hard in order to be worthy.’
But the risen Jesus announced peace!
The relevance of this quote from The Age is not about ‘the office’ as such. It is about how one’s person can be leached of personhood by the need to engage in conspicuous effort to validate oneself and earn points from others. It’s a kind of martyrdom syndrome.
For example, George’s relative passed away. He could have taken a flight and been at the funeral in an hour or so. But George needed to be seen as ‘worthy’ by driving for thirteen hours to the venue and arriving exhausted, yet stoic and in his eyes - having earned, by stint of travelling many miles and expending himself, some degree of self-worth and the admiration from the relatives gaze. But if such habits do provide us with a faint satisfaction they are also likely to attract sympathy or derision and frustration from those who love us.
We are already loved and validated by God. There are folks of whom it could be written on their tomb stone, ‘Died seeking the love they already had.’ We are already loved, received, accepted in Jesus. Father sent His Son to draw us into Himself. We are received into the fellowship off the trinity where we can bask in the love of God and be nurtured into our real selves, covered in grace and mentored in the love that is God. Enfolded in God we are continually moulded into who we really are.
If you belong to the world and have taken your cues from the world system, being a workaholic and a ghost of your real self will seem normal. (Not that you would have perceived this. You will not even know you are a phantom of your true self). If you have a life in religion you will be tempted to bust a gut showing yourself worthy about the church scene. In Christ you have a Sabbath rest from such labour. You are not fatigued by following other people’s Ishmael’s and - if Christ is your life - you will only do what Father is doing. Not necessarily what everyone else is doing. You are who you are and are growing from glory to glory as the person you were created to be.
There is a Christian Industry and the Kingdom of God that is spirit and life. It is directed by the Spirit of Sonship and advanced by those who are sons and not workers and slaves. You can dispense with the approbation of the clones and their reproach. They are tied to the body of death and inhibit the new creation and under the umbrella of ‘covering’ and the name of God.
But your worthiness is declared in Christ, certified in the blood of the new covenant and made real in the world by the Spirit of Christ in you. There is nothing for you to do. Except believe. Except to believe that Christ is your life, that you are loved by God and that there is nothing for you to do but be yourself and the spontaneous expression of Christ in you. Now you are liberated. Set free to be who you are and bear much fruit as yourself by only doing what Jesus is doing in you.