This week I’m thinking of two of our Big Ideas:
To Recap, here are Big Idea 3 & 4.
- Idea #3: God never once lost sight of your created value—He sees you as you are and loves you just as He sees you.
- Idea #4: Here’s good news… God has already forgiven you and reconciled you to Himself through Jesus.
Both ideas weave together, and I want us to think about them at the same time; however, I’m not sure I will have the time or space to deal with them both here entirely. It seems to me that both these big ideas speak to one compelling way of thinking about God and ourselves: The focus being on our identity and the related thoughts about who God sees when He looks at us.
Let’s get started and see how far we get.
Our Identity and Value
Recently, our identity as sons and daughters of God has been a regular and widespread topic of teaching, conferences, and books around the Body of Christ. A similar idea, and a topic of much teaching that showed up across many streams of the church a bit earlier, was that of being an orphan or of having an orphan identity.
So, do you think of yourself as a son (or daughter) – or an orphan?
For those of you likely to read this blog, I am certain the most common answer will be, “A son.” I am glad for that, and it is, of course, the correct answer; but, I want to suggest that we may want to look a little deeper before we jump to the next question. As a matter of fact, let me rephrase this question just a bit and see if we all come up with the same answer:
Do you live in the consistent confidence of a son (or daughter) or are you subject to the doubts and insecurities of an orphan?
I Still Face Doubts and Questions
If I were to be honest, I would have to admit that as firmly as I believe in my identity and acceptance as a son of God in Jesus, I still have some residual vulnerability that can still cause me to be pulled back, or down, or to the side, by orphan-like insecurities. What does that look and feel like?
For me, it takes the form of “if-then” thoughts. The ifs range from a guilt pang immediately following being tempted to think or do something I feel I shouldn’t, or to realize that I’m not doing something (or not doing it quickly enough) that I feel like I need to do. Or maybe it’s letting my vision get filled with circumstances that don’t add up the way I hoped for (or that I thought God had promised). When these ifs raise themselves there is still a weak and insidious capacity for my imagination to run to a then.
Thens are stuff like, “What did I do wrong?”, or a vague (sometimes sharp) sense that I am disappointing God, or a heightened vulnerability to accusations that maybe I am just a disappointment in general. I don’t know if any of you share in these sorts of feelings, but I suspect in one form or another, most of us do. I know that one source of this is our own self-image and the tapes playing in our minds, and the wounds in our hearts. Another big and eager source is the accuser of the brethren and the network of liars that fallen spirit has amassed. Regardless of the source, I believe the answer to these orphan-like insecurities are the same; an unshakable sense of family and acceptance.
Orphan Thoughts and Fears
I call the regressive, self-depreciating thoughts and feelings mentioned above “orphan-like” because I believe they stem from a very similar fear of rejection that a family-less child—an orphan—cannot help but experience. The answer to those feelings in a child with an actual orphan identity is actually gaining a family and truly coming to believe that they belong and are loved and accepted in that family. As long as the question of belonging is unanswered, and as long as there are doubts about the legitimacy of their place in that family, that child—and children are just small people—will be vulnerable to there own form of “if-thens”. As a matter of fact, it will be almost impossible for that person not to be pulled around and down by such feelings and insecurities.
Understanding our created value helps us settle the questions about how God sees us; but the greater importance of that idea goes beyond and encompasses WHO God is to us.
This is where these two big ideas begin to really shine! The first one about our created value helps us settle the questions about how God sees us, but the greater importance of that idea goes beyond how He sees us to Who He is to us. The second big idea about our forgiveness, already being extended by God, helps us to not self-disqualify and revert to non-belonging.
Your Created Value is the Real You
Your and my created value is too often an abstract concept to us, but it is not abstract to God. He was actually there, both when we were originally introduced into the human race in potential through Adam and Eve’s lives, as well as being actively present when we were individually and specifically formed in our mother’s wombs. Here is what the Bible reveals about God’s take on our created value in those two cases.
- In Genesis 1:26-31, we see the creation of man and woman positioned as the pinnacle of God’s creation story. After they were created, supplied for, and commissioned, it is revealed that “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Not just good, but very good. That is your created value in the eyes of God. He is not confused about His opinion about your very good value, in general, as a child of His creation. He didn’t render this value judgment from a distance…He was there daily in the garden, and even after the fall, He was still there helping Adam and Eve, warning Cain, and receiving worship.
- In Psalm 139:13-17, the psalmist reveals, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows very well.” And later in verses 17 and 18, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.” These are not just wonderful works in general, or thoughts cast out on behalf of humanity; these are His wonderful works and thoughts to, and about, you as an individual and me as an individual.
WHAT ABOUT SIN?
“OK,” some would say, “but what about sin?” “Doesn’t sin destroy or diminish our value before God?” My short and firm answer is “No”, but the question deserves a bit more of a reasoned response.
First, when were you (or other individuals) formed in mother’s womb…before or after sin broke into humanity through the fall? After, right! So, all the wonderful revealed in Psalm 139 is both wonderful and true in God’s sight of people after the fall.
Second, Jesus is the manifestation of the Father’s value placed on reconciling and redeeming people. The value of Jesus’ sacrifice is the most accurate measure of the value God puts on the people he made and formed. Jesus’ blood is called precious in that redemptive sacrifice…precious beyond both the value of the blood of bulls and goats (religious stuff) and the value of currency markers like silver and gold (natural economic stuff). (See 1 Peter 1:18-21 and Hebrews chapters 9 and 10)
Lastly, let me make a simple appeal to your heart; after all, He has written His law on our heart, so we can trust it more than we think. Is the value of the unfortunate child who lost, or was abandoned by, parents actually reduced by being orphaned? I think not. The very tragic nature of their plight that all of us sympathize with speaks clearly to their value. And, where does it speak to and from…our hearts.
So, I rest my case that we are defined by our created value more than by sin or by our failures. I’m not saying that sin doesn’t have power—if not dealt with—to rob us of so much of the life, beauty, and joy God desires for us to enjoy, but the question here is not about the considerable damage that sin did, it is about sin’s lack of power to steal our genuine value in reality and in the sight of God (which, by the way, are always the same thing).
We are defined by our created value more than by sin or by our failures.
It follows then that God—Who is Reality and Truth Himself—sees and acts with our created value in mind in His relationship with us. We know that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We also know that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.” (see John 3:16-18) There is an example of Him acting based on His knowledge of our actual, created value and not the apparently diminished and confused value we portray in our brokenness. Idea #3, “God never once lost sight of your created value. He sees you as you are and loves you just as He sees you”, simply reminds us to choose to be in agreement with God about how He sees us. What He sees He loves. What He loves is actually worth loving. Let’s acknowledge the truth of our Father’s perspective and attitude toward us, and let’s make the conscious effort to bring our thoughts about Him and us into alignment with truth.
But What About Sin? (Didn’t We Answer that Already? Some questions just die hard.)
Once we believe that God sees our created value and relates to us as he sees us, it should be easy to come into agreement and begin to experience the peace and sense of acceptance that comes with being known and loved like that. But—and there is a big BUT—that is where we have to think about Big Idea #4, Here’s good news: God has already forgiven you and reconciled you to Himself through Jesus.
Your Forgiveness in Christ is Total
How you understand your forgiveness and reconciliation to God is going to determine whether or not you will ever be able to consistently rest in your status as a much loved and fully accepted son or daughter. Your feelings about your belonging and acceptance will be the foundation for your identity and your ability to rest as a full-fledged and fully-qualified member of the family of God.
Doubts or confusion about the comprehensive, total nature of the forgiveness that has been given to you through Jesus will leave the door open for the sort of “if-then” questions and accusations designed to rob you of your confidence and peace.
And, I was right…as I feared, I won’t have time to fully get into the extent and stature of God’s amazing forgiveness and reconciliation in this blog. I absolutely will cover it in my next one; so, let’s end on this:
Our Value is Clear to God
God truly has never lost sight of a single person’s genuine value—value that comes from being made in His image and loved by Him. We were created to share His triune and glorious life, and He has never wavered from that commitment. Sin has made it a challenging and bloody road, but the confusion about our value is a distortion caused by the ground-fog of sin. It does make it difficult for us to see our, and other’s, value accurately from a horizontal perspective, but from the elevated vantage point of God’s perspective, your value and mine has never been obscured from His loving eyes or heart.
Believe that He really does love and adore you. Living and seeing in agreement with how God lives and sees is the absolute best way to walk in the truth and live in freedom.