Friday, July 6, 2018

What is your net worth?

This is my first post in a looooooooong time.  But writing helps me organize my thoughts and my thoughts need organizing in a bad way lately as the Holy Spirit continues to correct my thoughts, routines, attitudes, cravings, actions... you get the idea.  So here we go...

My Stella loves many things.  At the top of her list is food followed by baking, watching Food Network, talking about meals, drawing pictures of cakes and looking through cookbooks.  If you put all food-related things aside though she also loves reading, pranking and the Guinness Book of World Records.  This week she has been reading it every day as soon as she gets up (inspirational way to start the day I think).  I looked over yesterday and saw that it was open to the world's heaviest living person.  I'm going to try to paint myself in as honest a light as possible (self-deception does absolutely no good) and I will admit that at first I was appalled, not by the visual but rather the "obvious" lifestyle of laziness and gluttony.  Then I was annoyed with myself for that reaction and the assumptions both about how he gained the weight and how he spends his time.  There are many reasons a person might gain weight and it's typically more complicated than just diet and exercise.  I also decided that he probably works from home, has friends and contributes to society in whatever ways he can while being physically limited.  Thus satisfied that I had given him a fair trial in my mind's courtroom I went on with my day.

Man, this guy nagged on me ALL day.  I kept seeing that picture of him with his thumbs-up and oxygen tanks and, along with the picture, the phrase "contributes to society" would float through my head.  This morning I realized what is bothering me.  It's my persistent reversion to the belief that a person's value is based on their do-ing not their be-ing.  How do they contribute?  Contribute is a do-word, every time.  Value... worth... how much someone would pay.  Value makes sense--how valuable I am to my company determines pay and position, value to social media is paid in "likes" and followers, value to a family determines role and responsibility and so forth.  And how can we know how much to pay unless we have some form of measuring a person's worth--what they do is this measurement.  Yet God calls us to something better, something bigger, something... different.  
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33
Funny thing, though, we even twist that verse into a do verse.  We immediately start to think about what we can do for the kingdom and how we can do righteousness.  We turn to verses about making disciples, morality, using our gifts and bearing fruit and we think, "Oh, good!  Something I can do, some way I can actually contribute!"  So the pagans run after "these" things but Christians... we run after completely different things.  An excellent example in missing the point.  
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42
Only one.  Everything else is just the result of that one.  We reverse it.  We do in order to be.  It's just so much easier to wrap our minds around and, honestly, it feels good to do.  I want something to point to--look at what I said here, look at this choice I made about sex, look at how patient I was with my kids today...

The problem is not do-ing in and of itself.  The problem is how quickly we revert back to finding our worth and the worth of others in the contribution... to society, to the household, to (do I dare admit it?)... even the kingdom of Heaven--something we have absolutely NO business defining in terms of worth and contribution.  We even hear sermons about "kingdom worth" vs "earthly worth" but those typically come back to spiritual disciplines, morality, serving the church and community and giving.  Things we do.  This is because most of us are very uncomfortable with be-ing.  In fact, most of us would have no idea who we are if everything we do was stripped away.

But what about the prisoner in isolation?  What about the coma patient?  What about the shy, reserved, introverted?  What about the poor or the uneducated or the mentally or physically challenged?  What about comparing the value of a man with schizophrenia at adult day camp to the president of a corporation?  What is "kingdom value"?  Is there value in the "broken" as much as the "well"?  Is there as much value in the rural homemaker as in the civil rights activist?  And if we compare the worth of a practicing LGBTQ with an elder from the church?  What if our value is not in anything that can be seen or experienced?  What if our worth goes beyond our words and actions, beyond our accomplishments or choices?  What if our value has absolutely nothing to do with what we do?  What if "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) and don't contribute one bit to our value and worth?  Value... worth... what God paid for me.  And I had nothing to do with it.  What God paid for the world's heaviest living person and he had nothing to do with it.  What God paid for the elder, the homemaker, the activist, the homosexual as well as the heterosexual, the CEO, the gamer... and we had nothing to do with it.  And we have nothing to add to it.  Be-ing His.  Seeking HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness is not what we do but whose we have become.  We do naturally as we respond to His call to be, not to earn it.

Heavenly Father, I apologize for my judgement on this man I don't even know.  I recognize my judgmental nature and I know it comes from a desire to feel more worthy by de-valuing others.  After all these years we're back to this, again and again.  Heal my heart of its insecurities so that I recognize who I am in You alone.

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