I'm not the type of blogger that writes controversially to gain followers. I’m also never going to personally attack someone that I disagree with, which many people use their online platform to do. My heart is always to point people to what’s right about the world, not what’s wrong—writing to bring healing and not more pain, reconciliation and not division…..always.
So in the spirit of reconciliation and healing, let me shed light on a Christian ideology that I used to have personally, but definitely don’t anymore. After burying my daughter Goldie this past year, the agony of death pulled me in deeper into the arms of God than ever before. And as I listened to His heart moment by moment, I was astounded to hear this truth…..
God’s love had such a priceless value sticker on me, that eventually, I had to start valuing myself as highly as He did.
Earlier this week, the hubs and I went to the Dove Awards to celebrate my nomination as a songwriter for Kari Jobe’s worship song, Forever. And though I usually avoid places that require me to wear heels for hours on end, I thought it would be fun to go since the song had done well and had a good chance of winning.
Because I’m rolling on small amounts of sleep as a mom of a newborn, everything was thrown together last minute. I borrowed a dress that afternoon, texted a picture of it to my female pastor to make sure it wasn’t too short for Jesus, pulled out an old pair of 14-year old Prada shoes I’d never had the chance to wear, shaved my legs and removed old bits of pink toenail polish ten minutes before running out the door. Though everything was pulled together in a frantic rush, I ended up looking like I’d actually tried. I stepped out of the car that night holding the hand of my Studhubs, feeling like a million bucks and anticipating a special night.
Luke and I were ushered to our seats down front with all the nominees, artists, producers, and songwriters. And as the night kicked off with bright lights and amazing performances, the stage was filled with presenters who came out regularly to open up white envelopes and call out winners. After about the sixth acceptance speech, I leaned over to my husband with a concerned look, whispering an observation.
“Babe,” I said low enough so no one could hear. “Isn’t it sad that a lot of Christians think that in order to be humble, they have to devalue themselves and talk about how unworthy they are?”
As award winners took the podium to receive praises and accolades from their peers and fans, there were some that seemed to try and honor God by dishonoring themselves. As the theme of unworthiness developed, it absolutely broke my blood-bought, worthy heart.
We are unworthy of this award, because only God is worthy.
We need to deflect glory and not receive any glory for our hard work.
This music isn’t about us—it can only be about God.
We shouldn’t act like we’re excited about winning because it might make us look prideful.
We’re so dirty, how can we possibly worship a pure God?
Years ago, I stood in front of one of my favorite musicians and let them know their album rescued me out of a very dark season. And I’ll never forget their response: “Well, thank you. But it was all God.”
To which, I wanted to reply, “I mean, it was good….but it wasn’t THAT good!”
A lie has permeated our churches, it seems, creeping its way into our Christian culture. When we write, speak, and sing from the standpoint of who we used to be, and not as we are in Christ, we devalue the cross. When we refuse to see ourselves as God sees us, not only do we dishonor Him, we also dishonor the blood that was shed to change us.
HERE’S A FEW TRUTHS THAT I WILL NEVER AGAIN DENY:
I am not unworthy anymore—I’M WORTHY! (Eph 2:4-9)
I am not unrighteous anymore—I’M RIGHTEOUS! (Romans 3:22)
I don’t have a sin nature anymore—IT’S BEEN CRUCIFIED! (Gal 2:20)
I am not dirty anymore—I’M CLEAN! (Hebrews 9:14)
I am not unholy anymore—I’M HOLY! (Hebrews 10:10)
I am not impure anymore—I’M PURE! (Hebrews 5:27)
Over the past year as I’ve run hard into intimacy, God has been blowing up a few old religious mindsets—especially the ones that devalue me as a person. For years I thought God was a bit of a narcissist tyrant, making sure I stayed humble as He commanded my nose to bow in the dirt, pushing all pride out of me while I viewed myself as an ugly worm.
But then, I learned to hear the voice of Jesus.
And the absolutely mind-blowing thing about my Savior is….when I bow down low, He lifts up my head. When I throw down the crowns I receive, He puts them back on my head. And as I humble myself before God, He lifts me up….many times in front of people.
I refuse to view myself as unworthy when I’ve been adopted as a coheir with Christ. I refuse to serve God as a slave when I can approach Him as a child of God. I refuse to view my hands as unclean when they’ve been purified with perfect blood.
And I refuse to call myself a sinner when I’m now the righteous of God in Christ Jesus—even when I forget this truth and sin. (2 Cor 5:21)
Friend, every one of us behaves according to what we believe. And for years, because I believed that I was a sinner, shameful and unworthy….you’d better believe I acted that way. But as I started leaning my head against the heart of my Father and hearing what He had to say about me, shifting my focus from my unrighteous behaviors to the worth I have in Christ….a miracle happened.
I started seeing myself as God sees me.
And no matter what I do….He still sees me in Christ.
He sees me as a new creation.
He sees that the old has passed away, and the new has come.
He sees me through the blood—even when I don’t act that way.
Did I want to win ‘Worship Song of the Year' the other night at the Dove Awards? You better believe I did, and I would have jumped up and cheered in an uncool manner, excited that a song I helped write was recognized as a gift to the body of Christ! Let me tell you why I would have been so excited.
THE SPIRITUAL ANSWER: Because as a daughter of the King, one who knows that she's worthy, redeemed, righteous, and holy….I BURN to write material from this perspective and shift the orphan mindset in the church to an identity as sons. I want to teach the body of Christ to crawl out from under the mountain of shame we've placed on ourselves, striving to earn Father's love and affection, and learn to approach the throne of grace with boldness and confidence. My boast as a believer is not in what I've done….but in what CHRIST has done in me–and I'm really, really confident in who He is. I want the whole world to sing out to their Father as sons and daughters, not as slaves….as worthy children, not as unworthy wretches…..as the pure and spotless bride!
THE UNSPIRITUAL ANSWER: Because I've always dreamed of winning a Dove Award and a Grammy—have chatted with Jesus about it—and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that dream!
OPEN HEART SURGERY:
Alright, it's your turn. Let's do a bit of a heart check.
Say you receive an award for something you had worked hard on, and you were really proud of the work you produced.
-Would you feel the need to play down your role in the process in order to appear humble?
-Do you feel uncomfortable when you receive applause or encouragement from others?
-Or on the other side of the spectrum, maybe you crave approval and achievement, needing validation to feel good about yourself?
Take a moment and ask your heart these questions, being deeply honest.
On the outside, those who push aside applause can appear as if they're doing something right, and those who are competitively arrogant can appear prideful. But the thing is….
BOTH extremes can point to a value issue in the heart.
I don't need to win a Dove Award to increase my value. I'm more grounded in the love Father than ever before, and will only grow in that identity. But because I'm a ‘words of encouragement' girl, I love it when people come up to me and tell me that they love a song I've written, a book, blog, or sermon. I hug them and genuinely say ‘thank you,' letting them know how much it means to me that they recognize the sacrifice I've made. I don't try to appear falsely humble, acting like I don't care or pretend that only God created the work–knowing that as a mini creator made in His image, we co-created it together! It makes me feel connected to those who encourage me along the way, inspiring my heart to keep producing more materials that lead people into the heart of God.
And then, as I learned from my pastor Bill Johnson, when I'm alone before Father, I lift my hands and release the glory I've received…thanking Him for giving me the talent and ability to do what I love.
Take a few moments today and ask your heart this question….HEART, what do you believe that you're worth?
If the answer isn't…as worthy as Christ….then take some time to immerse yourself in the promises of God, reading aloud what He thinks about you.
I promise you. The more you hear about how crazy He is about you, the more you will begin to think like He does.
And He thinks you're worth dying for.