In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
God created light and said it was good.
God created dry land and plants and said they were good.
God created the sun, moon, and stars and said they were good.
God created fish and birds, and said they were good.
God created all land animals and said they were good.
And then God created humankind in God’s own image. In the image of God, God created them. Male and Female, God created them.
And then God looked at everything that God had made and saw that it was very good.
Do you notice a pattern? God creates good things. Whatever God creates, God does a good job with it.
So why do so many Christians talk about themselves like they’re scum?
Self-degradation is a popular thing for Christians to do. How many times have you heard preachers talk about how we’re all worthless, useless, awful, disgusting people, but fortunately, God loves us anyway?
How often do we sing songs about how miserable and wretched we are? How many of our conversations about our position before God start with a negative descriptor.
Why do we think that our default state is one of filth and worthlessness?
There’s a story that Jesus tells about a son who takes half his father’s things and runs away to live a life of extravagance. He’s irresponsible with his father’s wealth and loses all of it, falling into a life of extreme poverty. Things were so bad, that even the pigs were eating better than he was. One day, he realizes how far he’s fallen, and he says to himself, “My father has servants who have more food than they can eat, while I’m here starving to death.” so he decides to go and approach his father and beg to become a servant.
In his mind, he has disqualified himself from sonship. He’s taken his father’s wealth and wasted it, he’s sullied his father’s reputation, he’s shamed himself before his father. He’s not worthy to return home as a son, but he tries to return to his father’s house as a servant.
But when he gets home, the father won’t even entertain the idea that his son is anything other than a son. The father completely ignores the son’s self-degrading statements, and embraces him, puts him in the best robe, and throws a huge party.
The lost son is focused on his failures. He believes that what he has done has degraded his position and his worth.
But the father doesn’t seem to agree.
In the father’s eyes, the son has always been his son. Even while the son was feeding unclean pigs and longing to eat the pigs’ food, the father considered him a son. His value never went down.
So why do we always talk like ours has?
Why do we, as lost-but-found children continue to insist on our own depravity and worthlessness when the father has already demonstrated that he values us as children?
We screw up. On our own, we are unable to live a life of perfect holiness like God wants and calls us to. We rebel in ways that cause God grief, and when we do, God seeks to correct us and draw us closer to God’s self. But we never stop being God’s children. We may be dirty, but that does not diminish our worth.
So while I think it’s important that we recognize our inability to draw near to God without Christ, self-degradation is not a good way to worship. It’s insulting to our Creator to suggest that we are defective.
Some Christians might try to tell you that who you are is detestable to God. That what Jesus’ sacrifice does is hides your filth from God’s perfect eyes so that you can be called God’s child, but that without that sacrifice, you remain detestable and worthless.
But that doesn’t line up with the story of scripture. You are not detestable before God. Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t hide the real you from God. Jesus’ sacrifice reveals the real God to us, showing us that God has always been with us. Jesus’ sacrifice shows us that while we suffer and struggle, God suffers and struggles with us in order to lift us out of it and into our rightful place as children.
That’s how it’s supposed to be. The Gospel isn’t about how you deserved nothing, but were given everything. The Gospel is about how God restores us so that we can enjoy the good things that God created for us and always intended for us to enjoy.
We are not unworthy of relationship with God. Relationship with God is exactly what we were created for. Even when we fail and fall short, that does not diminish our worth. Otherwise, why would God go to such great lengths to win us back?
God welcomes us back as sons and daughters because that’s what God always intended for us to be. God doesn’t elevate our worth when we become Christians. God honors our worth by restoring us to your proper place as beloved sons and daughters.
So while it’s important that we understand our place before our Creator, we misrepresent God when we insist upon our worthlessness. All of scripture points toward us as God’s wonderful creation. We don’t always live up to the expectations that God gave to us, but we never lose our position as God’s creation.
And when God looks at God’s creation, God says it’s very good.