Sunday, July 26, 2015

Your Value, Power, and Responsibility

This week I had the privilege of "bringing the message" to the hospital's weekly praise and worship service.  Seems funny for a Catholic girl, especially when three of the audience of nine were pastors of their own churches, as well as my fellow chaplains, but nevertheless...  In light of a few posts I've seen on Facebook and the fallout that comes with not feeling good enough, I thought I'd share the message with you.  The following is an amalgamation of Scripture, personal thoughts, and favorite quotes.  In case you've forgotten, or have never known your personal value and power, I invite you to know and/or remember...

I.  Value – Why do we have value?  Because we are made in the image and likeness of God and He loves us.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them."
Our value simply is.  It cannot be increased by our good works, nor decreased by our sins because we aren’t the ones who distribute this value.  God does. 
John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
1John4:10  "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation of our sins."
Mark 10:21:  (When the man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life and he replied that he had honored the commandments that Jesus listed) “Jesus looking upon him loved him.”
If being loved by God isn’t enough proof of our value, where else can we find it?  How do we know we have value?  We’ll look at just a few verses from Scripture to capture how critical it is to Him that we know this:
Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Matthew 12:11-12  “He said to them, “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!...”
Luke 12:22-24  “And he said to his disciples, therefore I tell you , do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens:  they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds!"
John 4:10  If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'”
The gift of God is His Love.  Because of it, we are HOLY.CHOSEN.BELOVED.FORGIVEN.
How do we stay in this truth?  We spend time in God’s word, in the classroom of silence where He speaks, in communion with fellow believers, and seeking all of the other ways He reveals Himself to us (sacraments, nature, music, fill in the blank__________...)
We must also consider ourselves loveable and love ourselves, in turn.  On the continuum of self-love, there is a broad spectrum.  At one end is self-loathing.  There’s a lot of that going on.  At the other end is self-love based on what we’ve done or some other false value.  We don’t want to be found at either end of this spectrum.  We want to be somewhere in the middle.  We want to live in the place where God loves us from, recognizing our value because He gave it to us.
Mark 12:28-31 "One of the scribes asked “Which commandment is the first of all?  Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”
“It is rewarding to find someone you like, but it is essential to like yourself.  It is quickening to recognize that someone is a good and decent human being, but it is indispensable to view yourself as acceptable.  It is a delight to discover people who are worthy of respect and admiration and love, but it is vital to believe yourself deserving of these things…”  Jo Coudert, American writer
Can you imagine Christ calling you by name?  He does it throughout Scripture and He does it with you.  Continually.  Close your eyes and try to imagine it.  If you cannot, it would be a good thing to practice until you can.  We need to live in this reality… 

II.  Power -Do you understand the power you already have as a baptized child of God?  

2 Peter 1:3-4His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.” 

Ephesians 3:20  “Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think…”
By the way, this is the same power that created the universe...

III.  Responsibility – If we understand our value as children of God and the power He makes available to us, what are we called to do about it?   

A.  Our first responsibility is not to underestimate it!  Fr. Iain Matthew in Impact of God says in one of my favorite quotes, ever:
 “Survival demands a certain skepticism.  We are trained to cope as social beings by keeping our desires within realistic limits.  But where God is concerned, the problem lies in our desiring too little, and growing means expanding our expectations or rather, making His generosity, not our poverty, the measure of our expectations.” 

“It seems that each of us creates either heaven or hell on earth for those around us, by what we say and do, by what is in our hearts.  We have the power to bring division and pain, or to bring peace and joy.”
-Susan Conroy 

I’m reading a book called Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  It says that for those of us going to Heaven, life on this earth is as close as we’ll ever get to hell.  On the one hand, “Duh”.  But, on the other, "Wow."  Doesn’t this reality make the bad a little more bearable?  Conversely, for those going to hell, this life is as close as they will get to Heaven.  Gulp.  We have the power on earth to create these earthly heaven and hells for each other.

 “Each time anyone comes in contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us.  We must radiate God’s love.”  - Mother Teresa

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something,
And what I should do and can do,
I will do.
-Author unknown  

Dear God of Scripture and Lover of Souls,
Thank you for the opportunity to know you through Your Word, for pursuing your people, and for making yourself known throughout all of history.  Please convict us of Your love!  Help us rest in it.  Show us the value and power we have because of it.  Grant us the grace to make Your generosity the measure of our expectation!  Grant us the light to know Your will and the courage to do it.  Amen.