In a lecture at Concordia Seminary-St. Louis on April 4, 2017 called “Paul, Grace and Liberation from the Human Judgment of Worth,” noted theologian Dr. John Barclay related that our society is currently experiencing a crisis of self-worth. There has a been rise in anxiety, depression, self-doubt and even suicide related to the feeling that we lack worth. Much of this, Barclay said, has to do with the increase in interactions on social media in which there is a great deal of value placed on our posts being “liked,” our pages being “followed,” etc. We, unfortunately, are living in a more and more judgmental world in which we seek affirmation more and more from our peers.
Fortunately for us as Christians, we have Paul to set us straight on the concept of self-worth, Barclay reminded us. St. Paul writes:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. —Ephesians 1:4-6
We have worth because of Christ. We are made sons and daughters of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And nothing can change that. Not even the opinions of our peers or our any failure to live up to some earthly standard.
So how do we live our worthiness in Christ? Paul helps us in that regard as well, Barclay explained. In Ephesians 3:8, we read Paul’s mission statement, if you will:
This grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.
And that is our mission as well: to use the grace of worthiness that we have been given in Christ to share the richness of that gift of grace with others.
Our worthiness in Christ is never something that we earn, but something that is given to us unconditionally through faith in Christ. That flips our whole value system, Barclay noted. No longer are we to seek achievement to win favor from God and man, as is the way of the world. But our Christian viewpoint is to simply receive the gift of worthiness through Christ and to then live in response to that gift by showing grace to all, no matter what worthiness or unworthiness the world has ascribed to them.
What a wonderful and uplifting way to look at ourselves and look at one another through the eyes of Christ. We are more precious than gold or silver to our God and we always will be.