Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.—Jesus (John 5:40)Each one of us is born with a deeply rooted question: Do I matter? It comes in so many varied forms: Who am I? Do I make a difference? What is my worth? Am I significant? Our hearts are ever hungry, searching to find out, “Do I matter?”
” … earnestly I seek … I thirst … my whole being longs … in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”—David (Psalms 63:1)
Our very fall in the beginning revolved around an endeavor to, having been deceived about the character of our God, get “life” from a source other than the source we were originally intended to get our life from (i.e., eat and get life from our knowledge of good and evil).
In today’s Western individualistic culture, this reaching after, this hunger for worth, value, identity, and security (life) seeks to find its satisfaction from myriad different sources. Today folks seek to get life from either their success, their family’s approval, their social strata, possessions, sex appeal, and for some, even their religion. (Not God per say, but the way in which they worship, believe, or behave in relation to “God.”) Sadly, for many, it’s an endless pursuit of always feeling “hungry.”
One of the elements of the Kingdom Jesus came to establish was that this Kingdom offered a new source for humanity to get its worth (value), security (assurance), identity, and LIFE!
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”—Jesus (John 10:10)
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”—Jesus (John 14:6)
“Those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”—Jesus (John 4:14)
This life would be rooted and grounded in a revelation of God and His character of Love (John 17:3) that would also speak volumes about our personal worth and value to God, which in turn would give us security and assurance, as well as meaning, purpose, and identity. This revelation of how deeply we are in the heart of God would begin to define us, and it would be this “getting life” from God’s estimation of every person on this planet that would characterize those who were a part of this new Kingdom. (I’ll speak more about this before we are done here.)
I want to take you through a little exercise and I want to encourage you to really put some effort into this. I want you to look at the following statements and try and decipher where the people in these situations are currently getting their life. Are you ready? Here goes:
• A couple with two kids purchases a bigger and more luxurious house than they need, even though it means they’ll both have to work more and see each other and the kids less.
• A Hindu woman prays to a shrine of Vishnu three times a day.
• Despite failing health, one of the world’s 950 or so billionaires continues to work fifteen or more hours a day and rarely takes vacations.
• A middle-aged man leaves his wife of twenty years to move in with a woman half his age. He also starts smoking cigarettes and driving a Harley.
• A perfectly normal-looking middle-aged woman spends a year’s salary on breast implants, a face lift, a tummy-tuck, and thigh reductions. She then becomes unsatisfied with the size of her lips and nose.
• A “Christian” group carries signs like “God hates fags” as they picket the military burial of a gay Marine.
• Despite having a sexually transmitted disease, a young woman compulsively engages in sexual intercourse with virtual strangers on a regular basis.
• One teen stabs another at school in retaliation for being publicly insulted.
• A pastor habitually gossips about others.
• A husband and father puts his family in financial distress by continuing to pursue his gambling addiction behind their backs.
• Even though she is a widely successful adult, a middle-aged woman cannot seem to break free from the tremendous need within her to continually gain her parents approval of all her activities.
Were you able to list some of the sources these people are using to try and get their life? In Jesus’s day, although sinners were wildly attracted and drawn to Jesus’s offer of a new source of life, the religiously conservative leaders were very strongly opposed. See if you can decipher where they were getting their life:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”—Jesus (John 5:39–40)
These well-meaning religious folks were seeking to get life from the rightness of their belief or the rightness of their behavior and religion, and when Jesus came offering Himself instead, they were so invested in the deceptive nature of religion that they rejected the very One who could have satisfied their hearts’ deepest longings. Jesus was calling us not into a religion, but a relationship. He came to establish a Kingdom.
As I close out this week, I want to ask you two separate but related questions:
1)How do you know how much something is worth?
Say a car, a house, or a work of art. How do you know how much it’s worth? Isn’t the worth of an item simply what someone is willing to pay for it?
2)How much would you say God is worth?
This is the tricky part. We can’t measure God’s worth. It’s infinite, immeasurable, even inestimable. But this is just the point. Dear reader, how much was God willing to lay on the line to risk to ransom YOU? Did not He empty Himself, risk it all, give up all, to save YOU? What does that say about you? How much was God willing to pay to get YOU? I submit to you this week that God gave all He was for you. That means, quite simply, that you, whoever you are right now, regardless of belief, race, gender, orientation, behavior, social strata, success, possessions, intelligence (or lack of it), or appearance, YOU right now at this very moment are worth everything to God. God made a statement on the Cross about You! Not only does the Cross reveal the truth about God, it reveals the truth about what your worth is to the God of this Universe. If God was willing to give all He had for you, that means simply, by the answer to question number one above, that YOU, in God’s heart right now, are of infinite, immeasurable, inestimable worth! Let THIS define you! THIS is the living water! Jesus told that lady at the well that day, “I know everything there is to know about you, and my offer is still on the table. You cannot quench what is in my heart for you.” When your heart grasps this truth, all other sources of life become “broken cisterns,”—empty, obsolete.
Understanding what God said about not only Himself but also about YOU, dear reader, is a foundational element of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a member of His Kingdom. This week, don’t fight it, don’t argue with it, just submit to it. Let what God says about YOU and your worth to Him on the Cross define you! Don’t settle for competing identities. Live in the Love that rages in God’s heart for you, and may it become a well spring of love that changes how you see and relate to all who are around you. Because, although He gave all just for you, He did the same thing for everyone else too. No wonder sinners were attracted to Jesus. And no wonder the religious people of His day crucified Him.
This week, in light of the value, worth, security, assurance, and identity Calvary’s Cross bestows on each one of you, bask in this love and reflect it to the world around you.
Keep building the Kingdom.
I love you guys (and God does so infinitely more),