I was thinking about that TED Talk I recommended on Monday, the one about the fear of fat. We are fighting against an underlying assumption of our society, one that is drummed into our subconscious mind from the time we understand language. Fat is bad. Thin is good. Fat people can’t be beautiful. Thin people are more attractive. You know the mantra. It goes one further, though: Fat people are morally bankrupt, lacking in self-control. Thin people are basically good, or at least have “good” genes. And as a Christian, I have to admit to feeling less worthy of God’s love when I am overweight. (This is in addition to feeling less attractive and even invisible sometimes.)
Which got me to thinking, what other assumptions do we make about our worthiness in God’s eyes based on social standards, even those in the Church? For instance, I experience a mountain of guilt when I think about Robby’s and my money management approach: “We got a notice that we’re overdue on a credit card payment.” “I thought I put that on auto-pay? I’ll fix it.” “Wait, how much are the taxes on the car? Where are we going to get that money?” “Another overdraft? How much can I transfer to the checking account?” We are mostly in reaction mode, juggling money from account to account to avoid disaster. Based on what I read, we have a lot of company here in America, so you can probably relate.
I also feel guilty for over-eating, for eating out, for eating junk food, for not recycling every water bottle I use, for buying craft supplies (with money that could be spent on bills or school), for not supporting the right causes, for not keeping up my yard, for not keeping up the house, for not teaching my kids to be good stewards…you get the idea.
Because we’re supposed to be “good stewards,” of the money God entrusts us with, of the bodies God entrusts us with, of all the resources God entrusts us with, right? And if we are not, God is leaning against some doorpost in Heaven, arms crossed, shaking His head in disappointment. “No rewards for you, Robby and Rachael. I love you, but you need to learn to take better care of your stuff. No raise for Robby for the next 2 years.”
And even as I’m writing this blog post about how that’s not the case, I’m still a little afraid that it IS.
But here’s the thing. Whom did Jesus come to seek and to save? The lost. The sinners, the drunkards, the prostitutes, the dirt poor, the sick and demon-possessed, the shepherds and fishermen and tax-collectors. He chose the foolish things of the world. He picked children and dead people. These are not the good stewards of society. These are the broken, failed people. These are us…or were, before He adopted us and cleaned us up.
We are God’s children now. His messy, whiny, silly, dirty, much-beloved children. Think about your kids. How do you determine what they are worth to you? Is it the chores they do? Their obedience? Their achievements in school or in life? The way they represent the family? The income they bring in? These are all laughable questions, because 1) We don’t sit around and calculate the worth of our children, and 2) They are priceless because they are ours, not for anything they do, and 3) If your kids are like mine, they do a passable job at best on those things.
As God’s children, we benefit from the same type of love (only perfectly executed) from Him. He didn’t choose us–and doesn’t determine our worth to Him–because of what we can do for Him. We can’t do a thing for Him except create drama, make messes and lose stuff. He knew what we were when He chose us, and He still opened up His perfectly united Family of 3 perfect members to include filthy masses of messed up people.
And so instead of expecting us to join the Family ready to be a functioning member, He patiently teaches us how to be more like Him. He teaches us the same lesson over and over, sometimes, until we get it. He waits until we are ready to learn the next thing before He gives us that responsibility. He guides us into (sometimes very difficult) situations that teach us responsibility, that teach us self-control, that teach us to rely on His Spirit, that teach us to say, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” And we become good stewards, a little at a time. We become children who reflect His beauty, one shiny, polished spot at a time. And He leans on some doorpost in Heaven, arms crossed…smiling. “You’re getting it! You are looking more like Me every day! Well done!”