True, I’m a curmudgeon. But this is a gospel-backed rant.
Most contemporary Christian songs make God out to be a supernatural soccer mom. It’s the kind of stuff you hear at high school rallies.
Why this slant in the modern church? Because everything else in our culture makes much of us.
Advertisements. Movies. Psychology. Self esteem is a dog that can hunt.
Just the other day someone asked me how I expected children who have experienced abuse and depression to deal with feelings of worthlessness if we don’t bolster their self-esteem?
Could we really expect them to live the abundant life in Jesus Christ if they didn’t know they were personally worth the sacrifice Jesus made?
Great questions. Here’s my reply.
The Gospel Is about God Loving a Worthless People
I’d start with 1 John 4:19. “We love him because he first loved us.”
Then I would tell them that we are all corrupt. Sinners. Liars. Thieves. Adulterers–emotionally, physically and spiritually.
So by our very natures we can not love God. Because we don’t want God. So God loves us, which sows the seed of love for him in us.
I would also tell them that God is patient–long-suffering.
He endures with “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23), and wishes none would perish.
Yet, there is a point in which his mercy will end. It may be his unsurpassable attribute, but it is not his inexhaustible one.
For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:12
So I would tell my children not to drag their feet. Never put off repentance and surrender to another day.
The Gospel Transforms Worthless People
Futhermore, I would never tell a child that they were personally worth the sacrifice that Jesus made for them. That is to take the prerogative away from God, and to suggest that there is something in us worth saving.
Think about it: God didn’t choose the Israelites to possess the land for their inherent worth. In fact, he chose them in spite of their stiff-necked ways.
He could have chose any nation. For some reason he chose the Israelites.
Think about what Jesus said to the women at the well who had five husbands. Normal people don’t have five husbands. We can speculate she grew up in abuse. We can speculate she loathed herself.
But he didn’t tell her she was loved by God or a special person. He pointed her to the truth about her sin and about her savior.
And think about what he said to the woman caught in adultery. “Go, and sin no more.” Nothing about her shame or lack of self-worth. Just repent because God does not condemn you.
The Gospel Is Superior to Any Counselling Method
Sure, raising children and caring for those abused or depressed involves practical means like encouraging them and teaching them how to overcome depression…but NEVER at the expense of the gospel.
To do otherwise would only treat the symptom while ignoring the disease.
Besides, first century saints didn’t have our sophisticated counselling methods.
They didn’t need them.
Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
So, in the end, I would expect children who have experienced abuse or depression to enjoy the abundant life in Jesus Christ in the same way that we all enjoy it. Through the gospel.
Here’s What I’m Not Saying
Using strong language will obviously provoke some people to believe that I think humans are no different from animals.
That’s far from the truth.
Humans are distinct from animals in at least 10 ways–but the most important differentiation is that we bear the mark of God.
We are creatures created to bring glory to God through our grace-affirming subjugation of the earth by the gospel. But that worth is an alien worth–imputed to us from our Creator.
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