I’ve been ruminating over some thoughts I needed to get out on paper… or monitor, rather 😅.
Enjoy, and feel free to share your own food for thought!
1. Worth ≠ Worthiness
One of the doctrines I’m most passionate about is grace. Not just God’s mercy, and unconditional love, but God’s power to be the best version of myself, and to keep trying, because, although I am fallen, I am also redeemed.
Grace = power to keep trying, because we are redeemed – all of us.
In fact, that power comes from Jesus’ sacrifice – not only His living a perfect life for us, or His death on the cross, but, particularly, through the Atonement: Jesus’ suffering for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane.
Each of us is given this precious Gift, because, while Jesus is God’s Only Begotten Son, we are also God’s children.
He wants us to come home.
We are of worth and value because we are His. We don’t earn God’s love. We don’t earn access to Jesus’ grace. It just is.
Worthiness, on the other hand, is what we choose to do with that divine relationship. It is a level of trust we build with God that says we are not only His, but instruments in His hands.
Not my will, but thine, be done.”Luke 22: 42 (KJV)
Clearly defining and separating these terms matters. When we confuse worth with worthiness, we tell others (and ourselves) that sinners are not welcome, or not of worth to God.
!!!!! False !!!!!
Friends, God’s power, His grace, is the power to bring us all home. Jesus came for the sinners. His sacrifice is not something we receive after we become perfected; it is the Gift that allows us to become perfected in Him.
When our choices lead us away, grace is the power that brings us back to Him, because, though we may leave, Jesus will never leave us.
2. A Big Heaven & The Character of God
Which brings me to my second point. I believe that Heaven is big. God wants us home with Him so profoundly, that He provided a way for us if we want it.
I honestly believe that’s the biggest deciding factor when all is said and done.
Even just the desire to believe is so powerful!
The question is, what does that look like?
Sometimes, we want to be in the popular crowd. Perhaps those trends even lead us toward Jesus, but that isn’t a lasting faith! Because sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, Jesus requires us to be distinct and different.
Sometimes, we truly want to be with God, but we want something else more. Are we really willing to give up our addictions, our prejudices, our temporal wealth, or our time for Jesus?
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.Matt. 4: 18-20 (KJV)
But I digress.
My point is: if we truly want heaven, if we choose it, God has a plan. The character of the God I know is One who longs to be with us so much that He sent His Son to suffer and die and satisfy the demands of justice. For us.
In fact, I don’t believe that everyone who believes differently from me is destined for hell. I believe that heaven is big and the character of God is good. Whatever our knowledge looks like now, when we die, there will still be a plan in place. If we choose it.
So, you might ask, if God loves us so much and so unconditionally that He would give us anything, why Earth? Why adversity? Why not just whisk us away to a palace in the sky to live happily ever after?
The secret is, it’s not about “having”; it’s about becoming.
God can give us all of the miraculous blessings at His disposal, but, we must become caring stewards worthy of those blessings (notice I didn’t say “worth” those blessings).
The Prodigal Son, for example, was of infinite worth to his father and immediately welcomed home. And yet, he did not understand what he had until he was given the opportunity to learn through his loss thereof.
And we all learn in different ways!
The brother of the Prodigal Son didn’t have to lose it all; he did, however, experience a lesson in jealousy and compassion upon his brother’s return.
Both required some refining.
I think that’s what a loving Father in Heaven has in mind for you and I. Not to harden us. Or to make us suffer. But to help prepare us for a Godly future.
3. “Religion is the group practice of Spirituality.”
One of the ways God does this is through organized religion.
I’ve often thought, Why can’t I just believe in Jesus, do my own thing, and leave it at that? It would be so much easier!
Sometimes, I struggle serving in my church, or volunteering my time. I struggle getting along with my fellow humans, because, while we all try to follow Jesus, we all fall short, too.
Sometimes, my actions hurt the people around me. Sometimes, other members of my church hurt people I love, and I see the devastating consequences.
I’ve sincerely enjoyed virtual worship during the pandemic. I’ve grown so close to God and Jesus as I study more on my own, and I’m learning to take more personal accountability for my faith and for teaching my children what I feel in my heart. There are also less religious “politics” involved.
As small transitions back to in-person worship occur, I find myself asking, Do I have to go back, God?
So, when I heard this quote the other day, it hit home hard.
Religion is the group practice of Spirituality.”Brad R. Wilcox
We weren’t meant to worship alone, friends.
Part of our refining process means learning how to get along together, in and out of Christianity.
As things get more and more crazy out there, our tendency is to want to hunker down and keep ourselves and our families out of the commotion. That’s a very powerful freedom and right.
In fact, I teased my husband recently, “Maybe we should just start a farm in the middle of nowhere and hide out.”
But, do you know what he said?
He said, “I feel like, knowing what we know, we have a responsibility to stay put and show the world what it’s like to just be good neighbors and live our values, and, hopefully, find a community of people who are willing to do the same.”
God is slowly teaching this imperfect human who has always hated group work that, because He loves and values each of His children, because Heaven is meant to be big and not small, and because of the peace and grace He offers to my soul, that peace was meant to be shared.
Even when it takes a little work.
Here’s to believing in grace, and tapping into that power to help us live, and love, accordingly.