By Ross Gilbert
When each of us arrived on this planet, we arrived with fundamental questions about who we are and what our place was in this story. Ultimately, both men and women wonder the same thing,
“Am I worthy of being loved?”
Perhaps, if we had grown up in a wonderful family and had great friends and the best teachers and nothing bad ever happened to us, we would have had a chance of answering those questions in a way that left us feeling confident and good about ourselves. But that is the reality of very few, if anyone.
Instead, we have been hurt, bullied, taken advantage of, rejected, used and victimized in various ways, often repeatedly. Often those wounds occurred at the hands of the very people we looked to for love and protection.
As a result, we’re left trying to dig ourselves out of an ever deeper hole, believing we are not good enough, constantly creating new evidence that, in our eyes, proves our own unworthiness. It’s an ugly, endless cycle of attempting to answer these fundamental questions.
Fortunately, Jesus came to put an end to shame and death by giving us LIFE. Yes, Jesus came to forgive us of our past failures and sins, but the gospel is so much more. It’s about Jesus coming that we might have life, a life that overcomes the death that the enemy held over us.
Because we’ve made the gospel about behaviour, we focus on our need to work hard at stopping and overcoming sin. We determine that we’re really not worthy of the love we need until we do. This is where grace comes in!
It’s the point in the story when all seems lost and our hero is about to be defeated, except something so unexpected happens. Like in Star Wars when the Emperor is about to kill Luke Skywalker and then suddenly Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him over the railing. Or in Die Hard when Hans Gruber is about to kill John McClane’s wife, but he has the gun taped to his back. They may not be perfect illustrations, but the point is that grace comes to our rescue.
Grace is the love and acceptance that gives worth to a person, independent of their performance, and it is a love and acceptance that can only be found in God.
Listen to how Paul put it in Romans 9:30-32:
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness [being loved and accepted], have obtained it, a righteousness [being loved and accepted] that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness [they tried to become loved and accepted through their works], have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.”
The fact that we struggle with having what it takes and wonder if we’re enough, is the evidence that we are struggling to earn and become worthy of being loved and accepted through our performance. We are looking in the wrong place and therefore won’t find what we are looking for. The love and acceptance we crave, that we need, can only come from God and can only come as a free gift. This is the life that Jesus came to give, the life that overcomes death and shame.
Jesus knows you. He knows everything about you. Even the deepest, darkest secrets you are afraid will be found out. And still, in spite of that, He continues to offer His grace, His unconditional love and acceptance to you for right now. All that He asks of you and I is that we believe His love is enough, that we receive and trust that love, and live today as if it were true. Because there is nothing that is more real than His perfect love. Perfect love that has overcome death and shame.