Sometimes I hear Christians say the oddest things. And, no, I’m not just talking about odd Christians who predictably say odd things. I’m talking about the normal, seemingly pious things that come out of normal, reasonable, devout Christian mouths. And these things remind me of the great task before me as a pastor.
Every so often I hear well-intended, good Christian people say things like, “We’ll, I’m just a worthless sinner begging for grace.” I hear things like, “the closer I get to Christ, I see how disgusting I am and how great he is.”
I understand these sentiments. I even used phraseology like this for a long time. At one point in my Christian life I wholeheartedly agreed with that old hymn “At the Cross,” which says “Alas! And did my Savior bleed, and did my sov’reign die? Would he devote that sacred head, for such a worm as I?”
But now I can’t stand such…such…worm theology.
Worm Theology is probably a good moniker for such belief. It imprisons humanity in this notion that our sin has made us worthless. It fetters us to the falsity that the evil within us has so completely broken us that we literally have no value.
It sounds pious. It sounds like a good understanding of the holy character of God lies behind it. It sounds like something Christians should say. But is this at all what the scriptures teach? Or is this just a leftover from the shame-laden sermons we heard in our youth?
When I look at the text of scripture, I see a God who saves us, not because we are worthless, but because we are of infinite worth. We were worth the price of God’s only Son. How much more could God give to communicate our value?
The closer we get to Jesus the more we’re supposed to see how much we are loved. The cross is not meant to shame us into feelings of worthlessness; the cross is meant to show us the fact of our worth.
In fact, the cross may even be a call to stop thinking about ourselves altogether. The more enamored we are with Jesus the less we will obsess over our sin or even our righteousness. Yes, of course, I sin. I do bad things. I wreak occasional havoc on my family, friends, church, and society. But my primary identity is not in those things. My primary identity is that I’m a child of God, one for whom Christ died, and someone God is putting back together again little by little.
God didn’t make trash. He doesn’t redeem trash. He doesn’t tell us that we’re trash. He doesn’t want us to think we’re trash. We’re royalty in the family of the King of kings. Stop swimming in the pig dung and realize that your Father has placed a ring on your finger and a royal robe on your back. He welcomed you home as a long-lost loved one. It’s time to ignore the angry dying rants of Christendom preachers who thought they had to devalue humanity in order to lift up God in the world. It’s time to forget the voices of shame imposed by people who deem themselves prophets. It’s time to disregard the death-bringing denouncements of the worm-theologies of your youth. I am a sinner. But I am not a worthless sinner. The cross of Jesus means that God thought we were worth the price of redemption. We are no longer defined by our worst moments, but by his greatest moment.
Read more from Tom Fuerst at www.tom1st.com.