Finding Our Value Through God's Eyes
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
Romans 15:5-7 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
The opening verse shows the sense of unity that God has always desired for His church. We should be thankful that some churches operate in this sense of unity. Unfortunately, too many churches don't. The disharmony within the Body of Christ is a cancer. Although some can discern it from a distance, it doesn't always show until you start to get inside and get under the skin. This illness has an affect on its victim. It greatly impairs the Church from functioning at it was intended to. It tarnishes God's image to the world. It makes our message of love appear hypocritical. It brings spiritual death to many believers and hinders many others from ever knowing the joy of salvation. It is probably the most significant reason that Christianity has not affected the world as it has the potential to. Unfortunately this problem has plagued the Church since the first century.
1 Corinthians 3:3-4 (NLT) for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn't that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren't you living like the people of the world?
A key to to the cause of disunity is found at the end of the passage, "Aren't you living like the people of the world?" People in Corinth were plagued by the same problem that affects society today. In human society our self-esteem is often obtained from a social position. Our ranking is dependent on things such as our job title, how much money do we have, the type car we drive, the neighborhood we live in, the size of our house, who are our friends, how many people love us, the whiteness of our teeth, the style of our clothes, the college degrees we have, and the amount of hair we have on our heads. We score ourselves in these categories based on our own observations and what we hear from others. Everyone else does the same. This fuels competition and jealousy. Our ego is best satisfied when we are on higher rungs on the ladder than those around us. We feel good when other people have to look up to us. We are often willing to struggle and fight for these positions. The drive of our ego is so strong that millions have been murdered throughout history so that leaders could maintain there ranking at the top. This system of human society is as much of a hindrance to unity in the Spirit as the desires of the flesh is to living a holy life.
Most of us have been impacted by this. We are born into the Kingdom and come into the church with joy and love in our hearts. Before we know it someone has betrayed our trust, spread a damaging rumor about us, or taken credit for a good idea that we had. Gossip is a great way to build our own egos at the expense of other. Karen told Jack that Jill has a problem with her temper. Jack can now feel better about himself. His rung on the "righteousness ladder" at his church is now more secure. He and everyone else knows that he can control his temper. He can make his position even more secure by telling Harry about Jill's "little" problem. We emotionally wound people and then drive them away from the church and God's love. Especially because this behavior is not expected, a church can be cruel and merciless place to be. Churches have an earned reputation for being cruel. Someone once said, "When the church goes to battle, it is the only army that shoots its wounded."
As Christians we have to transition away from the influence of the world's value system. This system is not compatible with the true Christian life. Transitioning from it is not only important for improving our relationship with God but also for developing and maintaining healthy relationships with others. It has a major impact on cultivating loving interaction between the members of the Body of Christ. To make the transition we must learn to get our sense of self-worth by realizing how precious we are to God. Our sense of value must come from knowing how God sees us and how much God values us. Let's take a look at some areas that demonstrate the high value that God places on us.
God Sees Us As the Object of His Great Love
When all else is stripped away, the Bible is a wonderful love story. It tells of a God who patiently waits for His unfaithful lover to return, He gives everything including His very life to win back the affection of that lover and to restore their relationship.
Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT) Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
Ephesians 2:4-7 (NLT) But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.
Although it logically makes absolutely no sense to us, we cannot deny that God loves each and everyone one of us with a passion that is so great that we do not comprehend it. Observing His love in the Bible and seeing Him interact with us should leave no doubt His love is real.
As A Loving Father He Sees Us As His Children
The more secure we feel about ourselves the easier it is to respect and love others. We can feel secure if we truly believe that God sees us as His children and that He is a loving and faithful Father. He is constantly watching over us, providing for us, training us, and protecting us. Even more than a earthly parent, He seems to delight in blessing us when we have been obedient to His direction.
Matthew 7:11 (NLT) So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty."
He loves us enough to discipline us. He wants us to mature and grow strong in Him.
Hebrews 12:6-8 (NLT) For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.
When we are weak He protects us. He defends us from those stronger than us who are trying to take advantage of our situation. He compassionately sees our needs and addresses them. He brings comfort when we are distressed. He gives us no reason not to feel secure in Him.
Psalms 68:5 (NLT) Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
God Views Us Without Prejudice
Prejudice is often part of the quest for higher self-esteem. We can elevate ourselves by knowing that we are superior to a whole class of others. The following verse clearly shows that God is not prejudice. It also shows that God doesn't see us through the distortion of the world's values. Your yellow teeth, out- of-style cloths, or the fact that you are not as smart as others does not have any affect on the way God sees you. He sees and knows your heart. That is what counts to him. He doesn't see the things that we are conditioned to believe are a part of us. Others might have you convinced that you can never do anything worth-while. Give God a chance to convince you otherwise.
Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.
1 Peter 1:17 (NLT) And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do.
We Are Made In His Image
When God looks at us He must see a reflect of some of Himself. Prior to the creation of man we see this dialog between the members of the godhead.
Genesis 1:26 (NLT) Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves.
We also find evidence supporting this in the New Testament.
James 3:9 (NLT) Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
What does it mean to be made in God's image? Normally the word image refers to a physical likeness or representation. For this discussion I would like to focus on some characteristics that appear to be common between God and man. I believe that these are at least part of what is intended in the phrase "made in God's image." Of these characteristics I would like to focus on a specific group of three.
- We, like God, are rational beings.
- We, like God, have free will.
- We have emotions similar to God.
We Are Rational Beings
We are rational beings. We have the ability to reason. We can examine facts and form conclusions based on what we observe. This, for example, gives us the ability to observe God and conclude that He is good. God Himself acknowledges Himself and us as rational beings in Isaiah 1:18.
Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV) "Come now, let us reason together, "says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land, but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword."For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
We Have Free Will
God has free will. He can exercise His free will to do whatever He desires. His actions are a natural outflow of His will and His nature. He has this right because He is the ultimate power in all of creation. We also have free will. We have the ability to choose what we do and do not do. We have this right because it has been given to us by God. We like to believe that we have a collection of rights. However, free will is the only right that we have and the only thing that we truly possess. All other rights are granted to us by whatever authorities have power over us at any given time. Although we possess this right, we must remember that one day we will be held accountable for how we used it. Did we chose to use it to please God or to please ourselves.
We Are Emotional Beings
It should take no argument to support the fact that we are emotional beings. Every day we experience emotions and see the emotions of others. God is emotional. The scriptures are full of examples of Gods, love, joy, grieving, and anger. They show that emotions are closely tied to His actions and are an important part of what He is. By having emotions similar to God's, we should be better able to understand and empathize with Him.
Tying It Together
Why then did God include these three characteristics of His when He created mankind? If we consider the combined application of the three, we can see that are an essential for the development of a love relationship. As rational beings we can observe God and conclude that He is worthy and deserving of our love. We can then choose to love Him. Love cannot exist without free will. Love is demonstrated as we choose to put another's pleasure above our own pleasure. We need to be emotional to love because ultimately love is an emotion. God cherishes us enough that He desires to have an interactive relationship with us as shown in His letter to the church in Laodicea.
Revelation 3:20 (NLT) Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. In this passage we see that God acknowledges that love is a choice. He knows that He cannot force Himself on us. Love needs an invitation to be real and genuine. We invite Him by opening door in response to His knocking. This is such an amazing demonstration of the patience and strength of God's love for us. Are you catching this. Each one of us is so precious to God that He woes us and then patiently and loving waits for us to respond to Him. He calls each of us by name and knocks on the door of our heart.
Revelation 2:17 (NLT) Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
I have heard of lovers giving their beloved a special piece of jewelery as a commemoration of their love. The jewelery is special because it contains a hidden inscription. It might, for example be written on the inside of a ring or in a special compartment in a locket. The inscription is a term of endearment. It is a phrase that has very special meaning to them - a phrase that signifies the intimacy they have. I believe that the white stone in this passage is similar to the jewelery that I just described. In heaven God will present each one who overcomes with a white stone. On this stone will be a term of endearment that is only meaningful between God and the recipient of the stone. This will commemoration the special relationship He has with each of us for all eternity. As big and powerful as God is, each of us are the object of His love.
Sometimes we limit God to being just a bigger and more powerful version of ourselves. He is not restricted by time and space. We must remember that God is sovereign and free to do whatsoever He pleases. He can be the majestic King in the throne room inspiring all of creation to bow before Him and worship Him. He can also be the one who has a very close and intimate relationship with each of us. The intimacy limited only by the degree that we are willing to surrender self. If we could bring the reality of God's love for us into our hearts, we should no longer be dependent on man's accolades for our self- esteem.