I’m passionate about people understanding their worth apart from what they do. This is the heart behind the Creed of the Beloved that we say each week at Shepherd’s Grove, and it’s something that I believe we continually struggle with societally. Of course, our bent toward defining human value based on achievement goes back centuries, first to the Roman Empire, one of the greatest and most influential civilizations in the history of the world. Rome was the first meritocracy, which means that attaining power and influence in their culture was based entirely on accomplishment. So true was this that families would permanently memorialize notable members using something called death masks. Moments after a person passed away, a wax sculpture was made of their face that was later placed alongside hundreds of others in a shrine that told of their achievements to generations to come. Then, as fathers would accompany their children down halls filled with familial fame, they would look at their sons and say, “What will you do?” Of course, there were a few who were noticeably missing from these lavish and self-glorifying displays. Those who hadn’t conquered anything of value in the eyes of the culture were intentionally left out as a way of letting impressionable youth know that what they did was all that really mattered. Unfortunately, this “I am what I do” mentality has permeated much of our Western thinking in the thousands of years since. And though we typically won’t totally disregard the existence of the ones who don’t “make it big,” our societal messaging still focuses on success as the greatest measure of personal importance.
My friend, you are not what you do! Your value is defined by the God of Creation, who loved you enough to send His perfect Son as a sacrifice for your sins so you can run free in His unending mercy and acceptance. Because your image is reflected in the apple of His eye, there is nothing you can do to make Him care for you any more or any less than He does at this very moment. Even if you never accomplish another thing, His grace is the same, and He invites you to slow down and bask in the wonder of His unconditional love. Your Name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and your Godly heritage is secured for eternity by the blood of Jesus, which means you can cease striving and simply rest in His finished work.