Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Because you're worth it    (9/23/2007 )

Most of us will have seen the adverts for the beauty brand which uses this phrase as its punchline. It asserts the value of the individual—but also abuses that idea, by twisting it into individualism.

The phrase is designed to resonate with a consumer society in which ‘self' is moving to centre-stage. The ads say, “You're a very special person, so go on… treat yourself to this special product!” as though the purchase, in itself, makes you more special.

We all know that buying something new can cheer us up. But the ‘therapy' of shopping, and even genuine shopping addiction, have become embedded in many cultures. On weekends, families are found less often at the park and more often at the shopping centre. Big or aspirational brand names give us a sense of status and well-being, and we look up to celebrities who can afford to have the best of everything material.

What underlies all this? Are people overcompensating for an inner lack of confidence? Are they anxious about their place in the world? Can they only feel a sense of their value when affirmed by someone else—even if that's an advertiser trying to sell them a product?

The Christian viewpoint is that life is a see-saw, not a swing. It's about balance, not about seeing how high, or how much, you can get.

You are special—because you're unique. Diversity is built into creation, and God delights in you. Yes, YOU! Archbishop Rowan Williams, at a memorial service for the 2005 London bombings, spoke of grief as a response to terrorism. The terrorist places greater value on the cause than the individual, whereas grief declares that each person is precious and irreplaceable. We are all God's creation, and each of us is a one-off. It is vital to understand and accept your own value. You cannot properly love others until you love yourself as God wants you to.

But everyone is equally unique! And therefore worth our care and respect. You are not the centre of creation; in fact, we are social animals, so a selfish society can only be dysfunctional and, ultimately, destructive.

‘Because you're worth it' has particular resonance for Christians. Jesus said ‘greater love has no one than this, that someone should lay down their life for their friends'(John [NT], chapter 15, verses 12-13). We recognise this in military and humanitarian awards, when a person puts themself in harm's way for the sake of others. Jesus put himself in harm's way for his enemies as well as his friends—even for the soldiers who nailed him to the cross.

The death of Jesus on a Roman cross is the ultimate indication of our real worth. As the New Testament writer Paul put it, “You have been bought with a price.”

Jesus didn't die only for those who believed in him, or those who could understand, or the rich, or the important, or the healthy, or the nice-and-respectable. He died for everybody, including you, because you ARE worth it.

Pray: Lord God, in my quietest moments I sometimes wonder who I am, and why. I ask myself whether my being here makes any difference to anything at all. Can it be that my existence makes all the difference to you? Help me to grasp the enormity of your love for me. Amen.

Think about: Remember an occasion when someone showed you a kindness, big or small. Had you done anything to deserve it, or was it simply a way for them to show how much they value you? How did it make you feel?

Challenge: Think of one person whom you find really difficult to get along with; maybe they're annoyingly arrogant, or perhaps they put you down. Either for the next week (if you see them regularly) or the next time you see them, try seeing them through God's eyes. Remind yourself that he loves them every bit as much as he loves you (with God, deserving doesn't come into it!). Try looking beyond the behaviour to the person. Does this influence your behaviour towards them? What would the world be like if we all saw each other through God's eyes?

Look up the Bible passage which tells you how much God values you

Listen to the Father's Love Letter to You

Watch the video clip Heroes - Mother Teresa, who understood the value of people

Read the book Love Beyond Reason: Moving God's Love from Your Head to Your Heart by John Ortberg

Read the book What Christians Should Know About Their Value to God by Steve & Chris Hepden

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