It’s a common question. I ask it. Maybe you, too?
Perhaps, most often, looking for some way to connect with a stranger at a party, or even a new neighbour, to see if we have something in common. But, sometimes, it can simply be a manifestation of Human-Doing-Identity-Seeking Syndrome.
And yes, I made that title up, but you know it’s a thing, a real thing. Don’t we learn it early and easy? Even at home where we are most loved, or at school where teachers want the best for us?
And even in church!
Just think about what we say to each other in church:
- “Jesus didn’t save you just so you could go to heaven; He saved you so you could be a witness.”
- “Jesus healed and did miracles when He was on earth because He needed to get the public’s attention. It was so the people would recognize that He was the son of God.”
- “You are blessed to be a blessing.”
It sounds so spiritual! And might be true, to a degree. But these sayings might also carry an unintended message that is both untrue and harmful. Perhaps even debilitating.
Hopefully, most of us don’t hear these things and think, “I’m not important. What I bring to the table is what counts. The more I bring, the more important, loved, and valued I will be.”
But some of us do think that, unaware. Might our drivenness, burnout, frustration, and even our occasional inexplicable sadness be evidence, in part anyway, that we are carrying some untruth in our hearts?
Perhaps this one, that our value to God is what we can do for him.
Oh, but doesn’t that performance perspective just reflect the way things truly are in this world? We are valued by what we accomplish, how much money we make, who we know and, basically, what we can do for someone?
Pretty much, but is that really God’s way?
Maybe in the light of “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” we should tone down the usefulness rhetoric. In our minds, at least? After all, in the record of Jesus’ travels do we ever read that He was so moved with the need for more witnesses of his power that he healed all that came to him?
No, we can’t find that anywhere.
It does say He healed all that came to Him, and more beside. (There were some He sought out Himself!) But He was “moved with compassion” and He “had mercy” on them. No assessment of their usefulness anywhere in the records.
Is toning down the rhetoric too simple a fix for the soul-sickness of human-doingness? Maybe, but if we acknowledge His love and compassion more than we focus on our usefulness, we might be helped down the road to freedom.
- Freedom from the need to earn our place in the family.
- Freedom to act in joyful response to His “love shed abroad in our heart”.
- Freedom to appreciate the honour of doing the works He did and even greater, with the same motivation.
Part of a joyful life as human beings is to be productive and creative, to work with our hands, bodies, and minds. We were made in our Creator’s image, after all. But what we do is not where our value lies.
Our value lies in our being His beloved.
Might that be enough?