Bouncing Back From Difficulties: Useless & Worthless People

Today ends our final segment of bouncing back from difficult times. Because they WILL come, and we don’t want to be people who break – we want to be people who bounce.

It’s about being spiritually anchored so that we may weather any storm. We won’t break – we can bounce back. We’ve talked about refusing to see obstacles as unbeatable. We’ve talked about rejecting hopelessness and holding on to hope. Then we discussed embracing change instead of fearing it. Last time we talked about being intentional about living in community and allowing our connection to others to help us bounce back.

UselessWe wrap up today talking about recognizing the value that you have – about seeing the worth and meaning in your life. When it comes to our ability to bounce back or break in difficult times, less is more. What I mean is this: feeling useless, worthless, meaningless is a fast-track to breaking.

Useless — feeling that you contribute nothing to anyone and are only a burden (even if those people protest the opposite)

Worthless —  one of the key reasons for people to exist is have a deep sense of personal worth

Meaningless — when one has no purpose

  • The Imago Dei

Finding use, worth, and meaning begins with the proper theological understanding of the place of humanity. In theological circles we talk about the Imago Dei – the image of God imprinted on all humanity.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

With the image of God on you, your value stems NOT from anything you bring to the table. It’s about God’s work in your life. This is your source of value. That means…

  • You’re a Corvette, Not a Pinto

The Apostle Paul talks about it in terms of purchase price.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There is no higher price anyone can pay than life itself. And if this is the purchase price for you, you’ve got to ask yourself if you are living up to your purchase price! Are you living like a Corvette or do you look in the mirror and see a Pinto? This is the very message Jesus is trying to tell us.

  • Jesus Says, Human Life Has Intrinsic Value!

Matthew 6:26 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

While all life is important, there is no other creature that is made in the image of God (see point 1 above). The Imago Dei, God’s thumbprint on humanity, sets us apart from all other life on earth. We are special to God.

You are special to God.

God redeems people that the world spurns. A great example of this is Onesimus, a runaway slave who encountered the Apostle Paul and became a Christian. Paul wrote back to Onesimus’s owner and talked about the difference Christ makes in life.

It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. (Philemon 9-12)

Or how about Moses, a murderer with a speech impediment that God used to save a nation? Or how about Jesus, the bastard child of a teen mother who brought salvation to the world? A Christian singer/songwriter wrote years ago:

God uses improbable people for impossible tasks.

Because God doesn’t put value on us the way the world does. When the world looks down on people, God lifts us up. When the world says, “Useless,” God says, “Useful.” When people say, “Good for nothing,” God says, “I’ve got a purpose and meaning for you.”

When therapists and counselors worked on these underlying “less” issues, they saw a dramatic turnaround in suicidal ideations. Feeling useless, worthless, and meaningless leaves people with the belief that there’s nothing worth sticking around for. Helping them find use, worth, and meaning radically alters one’s outlook. Suffering they couldn’t deal with became pain they could.

Less might be more to the world, but our “less” has never mattered to God. He IS our more.

I won’t quit. I have impact. Pain isn’t permanent. I will not break.

 

 

Jesus Had Stinky Feet

Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did Jesus Have Stinky Feet?

My wife hates feet. With a passion. She hates feet and things associated with feet (unless, of course, I’m offering to massage her feet – she’s all for that idea!). The feet are not an attractive part of the body. They get dirty. They stink. And, let’s face it, there are some pretty jacked up toes out there. Like in my bloodline. There is a phenomenon we jokingly call “The Linzey Toe”. Our fourth toe has an odd curvature to it. My dad has it. I have it. My wife prayed that our children would be spared. But, alack-a-day, they are Linzey children and received the hereditary toe.

If we feel that way about feet in our society, imagine how people felt about feet in Jesus’ day. There were no paved roads, just dirt. There were no athletic socks, just sandals or boots. I bet feet got pretty nasty. So people stayed away from feet. In fact, only the lowliest of servants would handle the feet of others.

The zealous evangelist known as John the Baptist (or, as I like to call him, Dunkin’ John) had an interesting word picture to describe the value and worth of Jesus. Mark wrote about it in his book.

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” ~ Mark 1:4-8

That’s quite a statement about how much John valued Jesus. “He is so far above me that I’m not even worthy to get down on the ground and touch the straps of the sandals on his dirty feet.” If the feet were the job of the lowest servant, John is placing himself even LOWER in comparison to Jesus.

That’s not an attitude that we see a whole lot any more. In fact, sometimes it feels as though we take Jesus for granted. We like the grace part. We like the forgiveness of sinners part. We like the “I am a friend of God” part. But we often focus on the relational aspect of Christ’s humanity that we forget the grandeur and splendor of his majesty.

Jesus wasn’t just another dude. He was the supreme dude. He was God in the flesh. And that should have an impact on us. It should mean that we tread lightly in how we come to Jesus in our own faith. It should mean that we don’t take grace as some cheap gift – it is a costly gift from someone who is so far above us that we could never even hope to reach him on our own.

I wonder how our worship services would change if we thought about ourselves as unworthy compared to Christ’s majesty…

Tonight is Saturday night. As we head into Sunday and we all go to our houses of worship, please take some time to ponder the glory and worth of Christ. Don’t take him for granted, but let’s understand our place before Him.