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Am I Unworthy?

July 8, 2013

tumblr_mahxjrq4Nv1rueq4eo1_400A couple of weekends ago I was having a conversation with a close friend about the word ‘unworthy‘. His perspective was that as a result of what Jesus had done on the cross we ought now to consider ourselves as people who are worthy of relationship with God and of all the good that comes with it.

For the most part it was a discussion on semantics, as although we use the same words we often find that each of us attach slightly different meanings to them.

Nonetheless it got me thinking about what it means to be a Christian. The ideas discussed that afternoon were similar to an age-old conversation that I’ve had before about the difference between ‘sinners’ and ‘saints’ – am I a sinner saved by grace or am I now to consider myself a saint who is no longer a sinner?

I often come across both extremes of this – those who fiercely claim that they are saints and no longer sinners (1 John 1:8) and those who struggle to consider themselves right before God (Romans 5:1).

Interestingly enough when we read the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, we see that he opens in the following way:

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Now the church in Corinth had a lot of issues that needed dealing with, in fact that’s one of the reasons why Paul writes to them; addressing issues of severe sexual immorality and idolatry among other things. But notice how he addresses them …sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together… Is it not possible that I am both a sinner saved by grace AND a saint? After all doesn’t Paul seem to refer to himself as the chief of sinners in some places of the New Testament and as a saint in other places?

guilt_carry-man‘Why is this important?’ you might ask.

If we only consider ourselves as sinful wretches then we might lose hope – walking around with our eyes to the ground, so consumed with shame and guilt, so aware of all our inadequacies and wrong doing. We might tell ourselves that God wouldn’t really be interested in people like us. I wonder if you can relate to this?

phariseesAnd yet  if we only consider ourselves as saints then I think we could be tempted into self-righteousness. We might start to consider ourselves more highly than we ought, putting ourselves on a pedestal that prevents us from relying on God’s grace. We might tell ourselves that God is lucky to have us, we might even consider that His church would struggle without us. I wonder if you can relate to this?

However if we hold the tension that we are both sinners saved by grace called to be saints then I think that causes us to come before God open-handed and in desperate need of His provision. With our eyes Heavenward our daily prayer might look something like this:

prayer_raised_hands“God I come to you again, aware of all my sin and grateful for all your mercy. Thank You for Your atoning work on the cross that is making me more like You. Please help me today to live as You would have me live, please help me today to shun the path of a sinner and rejoice in the path of a saint.”

So back to the original question – am I worthy?

As I said it depends just on what you mean by the word ‘worthy’. If you mean am I deserving of relationship with God and all the goodness that comes with it – then my answer is absolutely not! Never have been and NEVER will be, there is nothing in me that deserves what God has done.

However if you mean does God consider me ‘worthwhile’? Did He think I was ‘worth’ dying on that shameful cross for? Then I would say yes I’m convinced that God does consider me ‘worthy’.

It’s the difference between having a high self esteem and having a high self-worth – click here for a previous post on why I think ‘self-esteem’ is unhelpful!

I believe that the more I follow this line of thinking the more I am amazed that He would deal so graciously with someone like me. It puts the focus back on Him where it belongs, it’s not so much that I am worth dying for, but that He considered that I was worth dying for – The onus ought always to be on His character rather than mine.

How amazing that I get to benefit from His sanctifying grace, looking to that day when I stand before Him as a fully made Saint without any trace of sin.

I can’t wait.

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