Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Challenging the theology of self loathing, and exploring the reality of divine love as birthright
I’ve been ruminating for while on the the theology of worth and deserved-ness. It’s commonly taught that people don’t deserve God’s love, favor and blessings. That we are “worms” or “wretches, undone” (As the Pentecostals call it. I think the calvinists call it “total depravity”). It’s the idea that instead of love, that sin has made all humans deserving of nothing but death. There are systems of scriptural interpretation that support this view… the idea that the only thing that made God want to love or bless humankind was the death of Jesus. I’m pretty sure I adhered to some variation of this theology at one time.
But when I read the gospels, and I look at the thought patterns and logic of Jesus the Messiah, I start to question the idea that sin caused God to value people less, that sin made God question the plans He had for us from the beginning.
How did Jesus think? What did He say?
Jesus preached to multitudes of people, and not all of them were his followers. Yet, He would often say to them “Your Father in Heaven” this, or that. He didn’t differentiate between those who were the children of God and those who weren’t (except for one notable instance with the Pharisees). Jesus was the Sower (see the parable in the gospel of Matthew chapter 13)- he spread God’s word like seed and let it germinate wherever it landed. He didn’t judge one swath of land as being more worthy than another. He didn’t bother picking the most fertile place. He released the grace of God into the earth like seeds of a wild flower.
Jesus also once posed this interrogatory…that if any human child were to ask their parents for a fish, would the parent give them a snake? And if evil humans loved their children enough to bless them with good things, why wouldn’t a Holy and Good God do the same for us?
Jesus was trying to change the way people thought about God.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son.”…. Not, “For God so hated the world that He killed his son..” in order to make us worthy enough to be loved.
NOT EARNING VS NOT DESERVING
And while it is immutably true that sin brings death. It is also true that Love conquers death, because love sees inherent value in all people.
Yes we all need the mercy of God, and no we can’t earn it. We’ve done everything possible to disqualify ourselves from receiving it. But in a strange kind of way, this is the very reason why we are prime candidates for it. Because the true definition of mercy…is unfailing love. When we fail- God’s love does not.
There is a difference between not earning something and not deserving it. Obviously, we cannot earn or merit the love and grace of God? Why? Because that’s not how love works. Love pours out and expects nothing in return. Love is unprovoked, and yet love provokes, gives birth, and begets love on top of love (love on top- Thanks Bey! ). There is no crowning achievement or gauntlet to endure in order to receive love. How on earth do you think we got here?
But let’s go back to the beginning…no…before the beginning…before time, space or matter came to being. Let’s step into eternity. It’s from this place that God decided He would create a vast and glorious universe- a material realm. This realm, from before its foundation, was always meant to be inhabited by the objects of God’s love- humankind. Humans were always meant to bear God’s image in the material world. That’s not something you earn, but it’s also not something you don’t deserve. On the contrary- it’s was the very thing that you were created for.
You were created to be a receiver of God’s love, grace, blessing, and favor.
The Divine Parental Prerogative
Think about it like this- especially for those of you who are parents (but even if you aren’t)… When you had children, whether planned or unplanned, did it ever occur to you that your child would be undeserving of your love? No it did not….because you knew at the very core of you, that this child did not ask to be born. You brought forth this child for the very purpose of being a receiver love and nurturing from you; and also that they would grow and become fully realized human beings. You knew if there were anything that your child deserved when you brought them here, that it was love, nurturing and safety.
Now, apply that logic to God…. Times Infinity.
Love Was Always the Plan
Jesus did not die as a concession. His death was built into His love from before the beginning. “The Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world” loved us, valued us so much, that He decided (Before ever speaking a word to bring us into existence), that in the unfortunate event that we use our agency to rebel against Him; that we fail to carry out the glorious vocation of being His image bearers; that we become marred by the sickness and deception of sin, leading to death…He would die to bring us back to Himself.
Long story short- This is what God thinks you deserve….
you deserve to be loved,
you deserve goodness,
you deserve peace,
you deserve joy
…because this is exactly what you were created for.
LOVE YOU ALL!