We had a good sermon at church last Sunday. It seemed that our vicar thought otherwise and my heart went out to her because of this. She preached on James 1 1-12 and she talked about perseverance, trials, humility and expectation.
She was humble and sincere and she opened up about her pre-sermon crises of confidence.
There was one thing she said that struck a particular chord with me and that was concerning our necessary reliance on God and how, as Christians we sometimes need to humble ourselves completely to let God take control.
It was sound teaching but, as is often the case, it got me thinking a little tangentially.
As I listened, I started thinking about the message we sometimes take away that we are nothing without God and how we (I) twist that into a stubborn, self-harming thing. The internal dialogue goes something like this:
I am nothing in comparison to the Lord and without him I cannot succeed.
I don’t currently feel the presence of the Lord or I don’t feel I am doing what the Lord wants me to do.
I am therefore nothing… I am worthless… a failure.
You have no idea how often in a given week I can feel like this. Or perhaps you have – I assume it’s not just me…
Anyway, when I stop being cross for a moment, I remember something profound, something awesome, something mind-blowing, something simply beyond hyperbole.
I remember that God made me in his image.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1 v 27
Now, this can be considered as both a revelation about the nature of God – a useful pointer that shows us aspects of God when we look at each other and at ourselves – and as a revelation about our relationship to God – as free-willed, personal beings able to have a meaningful, intimate relationship with him.
I believe it is both these things and, specific to my point here, I believe it also points to our nature as intrinsically Godly beings.
As men and women created in God’s image we have intrinsic worth and value. A lot of it.
The more I think about this the more shocking it is. In the context of Christian theology, being made in God’s image is quite simply a staggering qualification.
I would take it as a fantastic (ie. unbelievable) compliment if someone said to me, “You look a lot like George Clooney!”. To tell me I am like God is off the scale.
Let me put it another way. Jesus did not come to save the sinless, the perfect and the good. He came to save the fallen and broken: the murderers, the thieves, those who hurt others, the liars, the cowards, the mean and spiteful, the selfish, the lazy, the self pitying and the grumpy. So, Jesus sees value in these people – intrinsic value, value that is built-in, or created-in if you like – before they are redeemed.
Let me be clear, I am not saying we are self-sufficient. No, we are broken, we are insufficient and we are desperately in need of the Lord. Without God’s grace, without Jesus on the cross, we are messed up and way short of the mark. If heaven is the greatest club ever, we are not on the list, we are not coming in. So, there is no room for smugness, complacency or pride.
Nevertheless, let us never believe we are worthless nor take for granted the fact that we are created in God’s image. You, me, him, her, even them over there: we are all like God. We are Godlike.
Of course, now I’m going to have to work on my humility again. Ho hum.