I can’t help feeling insignificant and desperate for God when I think of how Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross and of all that sacrifice means for my life—the freedom, the joy, the peace, the fullness. When I look deeply at all Jesus has done for me, I feel small. I realize that Jesus took the punishment for all the times I’ve missed the mark, fallen short, hurt people, screwed up. I can’t help but wonder why. I mean seriously—what possibly could I be worth to God that He would do all of this for me?
In view of that, I can’t bring myself to demand any rights. In fact, I don’t really feel I have any at all. Jesus has all the right in the world to demand of me anything He wants. I am just a “worm.” Bildad was right when he spoke to Job: “How much less are mere people, who are but worms in his sight?” (Job 25:6). I am worthless.
It is vital that I keep this perspective of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is this view that reminds me of where I come from. It keeps in proper view of who God is and my desperate need for His mercy and grace to be active in my life.
But then there is the other side. When I remember that Christ didn’t just die for me, but He rose again, and when I look into His compassionate face, I can’t help but see that now I am a child of the Father. Because of this, I am not limited. I am no longer a slave to my selfish desires. I have been set free to live the full life that God intended for us, and I am now empowered to live life in a way I never could on my own.
Obviously this view has a much more appealing look to it. I love living life from this perspective. I love verses like Philippians 4:13: “For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Paul even said in 2 Corinthians, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” There are countless other verses we could look at that prove we can be great because of Christ.
I love living from this perspective and don’t want to minimize the truth it holds. The problem can be that we may take this viewpoint quickly for granted. If we do, we can fall into the temptation of viewing ourselves as better than others. We also will tend to make demands on God to do things our way. An epidemic of this is happening to so many Christians today. And I believe that it has started out with good intentions and not necessarily a wrong theology. The problem is that it is an incomplete theology.
Have you ever thought about how magnets work? Remember grabbing magnets as a child and playing with them? Some magnets would stick together tightly. But I remember the other ones that would fight each other and work against each other. I would spend a lot of time forcing them together or trying to keep them lined up. But every time I let go, they would separate. The reason is that two positively charged magnets repel each other. They fight against one another. But if you put a positive charged and negative charged magnet together, they stick. They may seem like opposites, but they attract each other.
A lot of concepts about God seem to be opposites from each other. The reality is that they are really attracted to each other and are meant to stick together. Some examples are God’s mercy and His judgment, or the idea of God being fully man and fully God—two seemingly opposing views, but they stick together. This is also the case between the “worm” theology and the “child” theology. At first glance, they may seem to oppose each other, but in reality they stick together.
The “worm” theology and the “child” theology compliment each other and go hand in hand. The danger of holding only to one of these theologies is damaging to our relationship with God. It causes us to experience only an isolated aspect of God and not the fullness of God. If I only view my life in light of Christ having to die on the cross because I’m such a sinful mess, I become depressed and never see my life as being worth anything useful. My view is limited to my desperate state. I need this view because I need to remember my need for Christ and His power to help me stop living only for myself. But I also need to realize that this is an incomplete view because of Jesus’ rising from the dead! Because Jesus is alive, He has not left me in a desperate state.
The problem also exists that if I view my life only in light of the Jesus’ rising from the dead, I am tempted to become proud and condescending. I forget where I come from and tend to look down on those who still struggle with things I have moved past.
But what happens when I put the two together? My life can stay balanced. I get a bigger picture of whom God is. I know where I come from, but I also know the power of what Jesus has done in my life and what He is continuing to do through me.
[Kevin Diederich is a 29-year-old pastor in the Chicagoland area.]
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